St. Benedict II - The Honourable Pontiff

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Once again there was a long interval between the election and the consecration of a pope, but this time something was done about it. Benedict, a Roman, the son of John, was elected to succeed St. Leo II; but he was not consecrated until June 26, 684. Churchmen were weary of these long delays which were due to the necessity of waiting for imperial confirmation of the papal election. Benedict obtained from Emperor Constantine the Bearded a change in regulations which permitted the exarch of Ravenna to make the confirmation. This shortened considerably the interval between election and confirmation.

Benedict II was a man richly endowed with noble qualities. He had been in the service of the Church from his youth. Humble, patient, and generous, he was well-schooled in the Scriptures and sacred music. His pontificate, however, was too short to allow him much accomplishment.

Following his predecessors' example, Benedict wrote to Spain to hurry the bishops along in sending in their adhesion to the Sixth General Council. King Ervig then held a council at Toledo in November 684 to discuss the matter. The council condemned the Monothelite heresy, and St. Julian, archbishop of Toledo, drew up a profession of faith which he sent to the Pope. Benedict, though pleased, was not quite satisfied with some of the expressions used in this profession and sent it back with a request for some changes in terminology.

Like all the contemporary popes of this efficient emperor, Benedict got along well with Constantine the Bearded. Indeed Constantine asked the Pope to adopt his two sons, Justinian and Heraclius. As a token of this adoption he sent Pope Benedict locks of the princes' hair.

The charity and kindness of St. Benedict II appears in the effort he made to convert Macarius, ex-patriarch of Antioch. Macarius had been condemned as a Monothelite and deposed by the Sixth General Council.

The Pope took the occasion of his orthodox successor's death to send Macarius one of his special advisers to attempt to win him back. It was no use; Macarius died a heretic.

Since Benedict was very good to his clergy, it was fitting that his last big ceremony was the distribution of gifts and favors on Easter Sunday, March 26, 685. At once after this ceremony the saintly Pope fell sick and soon died. He was buried in St. Peter's on May 8. Benedict is venerated as a saint; his feast is kept on May 7.

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

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