Popes in a Year
#66 - Pope Boniface III
Pope from February 19, 607 - November 12, 607 A.D.
Died: November 12, 607 A.D.
Pronounced: BAHN-ih-fuss (not “bony face”)
Give me the scoop on Boniface III.
Boniface was a Roman, and was the son of John Cataadioce. Prior to being pope, he served as St. Gregory the Great’s representative in Constantinople. After his Pope Sabinian’s death, almost a year went by before Boniface III was consecrated on February 19, 607. Some think this happened so he could finish his work in the East, but a more plausible reason could have just been some pesky problems with the election itself.
Boniface reportedly wanted everyone to play nice and hold a fair election, because one of his only acts as pope was to convene a synod of bishops and declare that three days must pass between the death of the pope and the beginning of a search for his successor. He enacted these rules under pain of excommunication, and for good measure also decreed that those three days be spent in prayer and fasting. Mic drop.
Boniface III died on November 12 of the same year, having been pope less than eight months. St. Gregory the Great
spoke of him
as being a man of “tried faith and character”. He was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica.
What was he known for?
Both before his election and after, Boniface III worked to clarify the pope’s position as head of the whole Church. In the East, the Patriarch of Constantinople had been attempting to call himself the “universal patriarch,” which St. Gregory didn’t particularly appreciate (hence Boniface’s objective). Though the struggle lasted for some time, by the time he was elected, Boniface was able to deal with a new emperor who was more favorable to the Church. This emperor, Phocas, happily decreed against Constantinople’s patriarch saying, “the See of Blessed Peter the Apostle should be head of all of the Churches,” and that the title of “Universal Bishop” belonged solely to the man seated on the Chair of Peter in Rome.
Boniface III was the third pope in a row to serve as papal nuncio in Constantinople, following both Sabinian and Gregory the Great (who served under Pelagius II).
What else was going on in the world at the time?
St. Trudpert -- a monk, Irish missionary to the Germans, and saint you’ve probably never heard of -- died during Boniface III’s papacy. According to legend, he was martyred while sleeping near the hermitage he had built in Germany’s Black Forest, and was buried nearby. A monastery dedicated to St. Trudpert, housing the Sisters of St. Joseph, still exists at his place of burial.
See pictures here.
Coming tomorrow....Pope St. Boniface IV
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope Boniface III -
Pope Boniface III -
St. Trudpert -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Monday, April 3 at 2:00AM