Popes in a Year
#48 - Pope St. Felix III (Felix II)
Pope from 483-492 A.D.
Died: 492 A.D.
First of all, what's with the name confusion?
You’ll recall that during the papacy of Pope Liberius (352-366) a rather popular antipope also claimed to hold the Chair of Peter for 10 years. Since said antipope was known as Felix II, it’s been a bit easier to refer to the
second Felix as “Felix III.”
Okay, now give me the scoop on Felix III.
St. Felix III was born of a noble Roman family, and was apparently an ancestor to Pope St. Gregory the Great -- believe it or not, Felix might've even been his great-great-grandfather. Back then, clergy in minor orders were permitted to marry and have children, but upon ordination into major orders (deacon, priest, bishop) were required to live married celibacy, or may have only been allowed to be ordained after being widowed.
Felix III died in 492 after being pope for eight years, 11 months, and 23 days. His feast day is celebrated on March 1.
What was he known for?
Felix III’s vigorous defense of the proper teaching of the faith resulted in a 35-year schism between the East and West. A document called the
Act of Union
), issued by the Eastern emperor Zeno and Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, had caused all sorts of trouble in various parts of the Church due to its ambiguous language in attempting to cure the rift between the Church and the Eutychian heresy (which said Christ only has one nature, not two).
The document was a massive failure, as the Eastern emperor drove the bishops of Alexandria and Antioch from their sees and allowed two heretics named Peter -- Peter the Tanner and Peter Mongus -- to unlawfully seize the vacant chairs. Felix III convened a meeting of bishops in Rome to sort the whole thing out, and though some issues were resolved and many more excommunications were handed down (including to Acacius and both Peters), the “Acacian Schism” continued until 518.
Having been married prior to his election, Felix III was one of few popes to have had children. Sadly, however, his three children are said to have all died during his papacy.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 489, the first Temple of Confucius was constructed in Northern China.
“Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it; and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them.”
Pope St. Felix III
Coming tomorrow....Pope St. Gelasius I
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope St. Felix III -
Pope Felix III -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 2:00AM