Popes in a Year
#67 - Pope St. Boniface IV
Pope from August or September 608 - May 615 A.D.
Died: May 615 A.D.
Pronounced: BAHN-ih-fuss (not “bony face”)
Give me the scoop on Boniface IV.
Boniface IV’s father was a doctor named Johannes, and he was born in the province of Valeria in the Byzantine Empire. Prior to being pope, he served, like the Boniface before him, as a deacon under Gregory the Great. Confusion remains as to which Boniface Gregory liked best.
He was elected pope either on August 25 or September 15, 608. As pope, he helped the relatively new English Church and its bishop, Mellitus, answer vital questions on the monastic life, among other things. Like St. Gregory, St. Boniface IV was a big fan of monks. In fact, he loved the monastic life so much that he had his own residence turned into a monastery, where he eventually retired and died in 615. He was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica, and his remains have been moved three times since: once in the 10th or 11th century, once in the 13th century by Boniface VIII, and finally to the existing St. Peter’s Basilica in October of 1603. His feast day is celebrated on May 25.
What was he known for?
It’s thanks to St. Boniface IV that the Church possesses the old Roman Pantheon -- the temple originally built to Roman gods Jupiter, Venus, and Mars -- as one of its oldest existing churches. The Byzantine emperor, Phocas, gave the pagan site to the Church as a gift, which Boniface promptly converted into a church dedicated to “St. Mary ever a virgin and all martyrs.” It’s now known as “Santa Maria Rotunda” and can still be visited by pilgrims to the Eternal City.
The reigns of Boniface III and Boniface IV were the first of 11 times in Church history that two consecutive popes bore the same name. The most recent? Servant of God, John Paul I (1978) and St. John Paul II (1978-2005).
What else was going on in the world at the time?
During Boniface IV’s reign, the Muslim prophet Muhammad began spreading the message of Islam.
Coming tomorrow....Pope St. Adeodatus I
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope St. Boniface IV -
Pope Boniface IV -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, April 4 at 2:00AM