St. Felix I - Bringing Order To The Mass

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St. Felix was a Roman, the son of Constantius. He was elected pope in 269. A letter to Bishop Maximus of Alexandria was once thought to be his, but later scholars have decided that it was a forgery.

During the pontificate of St. Felix, the capable organizer and clever general Aurelian became emperor. Aurelian has a very interesting connection with the Pope. The pontificate of St. Dionysius had been troubled by the heresy of Paul of Samosata. A council held at Antioch had deposed Paul as bishop of Antioch, but the wily heretic hung on to the Church property and refused to give it up to his successor, Demetrianus. Emperor Aurelian, passing through Antioch, was called upon to settle the matter. The Emperor decided that he was truly the bishop who was in communion with the bishops of Rome and Italy. And so the orthodox Demetrianus was able to take over from the heretical Paul of Samosata.

St. Felix is credited with ordering the celebration of Masses over the sepulchers of the martyrs.

Pope St. Felix is called a martyr by the "Liber Pontificalis," which also says that he built a basilica on the Aurelian Way in which he was buried. Modern scholars, however, do not consider this to be true. Duchesne thinks that it is a confusion of Pope Felix with another Felix who was a martyr and was buried on the Aurelian Way. At any rate, Pope St. Felix died in 274 and was most probably buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus. His feast is kept on May 30.

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

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