Boniface II - The Germanic Connection

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The clergy and people of Rome had yielded to the wish of Theodoric and elected Felix, but there was great dissatisfaction with the quite irregular, though well-meant, attempt of Felix to appoint his own successor. When Felix died, the majority of the clergy and people refused to accept his nominee, the archdeacon Boniface, and elected instead the clever diplomat Dioscorus, a Greek from Alexandria. Dioscorus had served the papacy brilliantly on important missions. He was consecrated in the Lateran Basilica while Boniface had to be contented with the Julian Basilica. With two claimants consecrated, it looked as if Rome was in for a bad time; but in less than a month Dioscorus was dead. His followers wisely chose to submit to Boniface. Boniface made them anathematize the memory of Dioscorus and agree that he had the right to appoint his successor.

Boniface, though a Roman himself, was the son of Sigisbald, a fact of some interest because it is the first German name connected with a pope. At first he seemed to proceed with rather a high hand. Not only did he compel the Roman clergy and people to recognize his right to appoint his successor, but he soon summoned a synod in St. Peter's and announced that he had appointed the deacon Vigilius to succeed him and to be the next pope. The people took it quietly, but soon resentment was sweeping Rome at this highhanded procedure. When Boniface realized that the city was seething with dissatisfaction, he did a big thing. He summoned another synod to St. Peter's and this time he announced that he had been wrong in seeking to appoint his successor. Then in the presence of the clergy he burned the decree appointing Vigilius the next pope.

Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.

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