Pope Severinus was elected within three days of the death of Pope Honorius,but was not installed as Pope for nearly two years after that. During this time,a newly elected Pope had to get confirmation from the emperor of Constantinople. The current emperor was on the Monothelitism bandwagon believing that Jesus had two natures(human and divine),but one will(Divine). This is in direct opposition to the Church’s belief that Jesus has both human and Divine natures and two distinct wills. Severinus refused to even consider this belief so a battle of wills then began between the two cities. The emperor sent his agents to apply pressure on Rome,first by inciting a mob of Roman soldiers to storm the Vatican and steal their pay(which had been late in coming),then another group came in,ran the soldiers off,and stole all the loot they wanted(with a share for the emperor,of course). All the while Severinus and his clergy had barricaded themselves in the Lateran palace,refusing to compromise(or even come outside to meet the various angry mobs). Finally,after all of this childishness from Constantinople,and with the emperor dying,time was running out for him to get his way. Not much could get done without an official Pope and delegates for Severinus had convinced the emperor that he would at least consider the nature of Christ if he was approved as Pope(they were of course lying,or at least fudging the truth. Severinus would not be budged). This convinced the emperor(who was tired of talking about all of this). He confirmed Severinus as our 71st Pope. Severius officially reigned for all of two months before passing away due to natural causes,which looks bad on paper……but the guy put in the time,holding the line on the one Truth of which our Church was built. He was outstanding.
Oh this Pope…..this Pope caused all kinds of trouble. The patriarch of Constantinople supported the idea of Monothelitism,which suggested that Christ had both a human and Divine nature but only one will,a Divine one. The Catholic Church had always declared that this was heresy,because we believe that Christ had both a human and Divine nature and both human and Divine wills. The patriarch of Constantinople had hoped that the Church could compromise on this and it would help bring Monothelites into the Church. He wrote Pope Honorius about this and the Pope took a “yeah whatever” approach to it……here’s where the trouble began. His general lax attitude wasn’t an issue until his successor Pope Severius(and the next several Popes)took a hard line,or rather the Church’s line,and refused to accept this heretical idea about the nature of Christ. In fact,forty years after his death,a council declared ANATHEMA(!!)to Pope Honorius. Anathema basically means “damned”. The council damned Honorius and all of the other clergy who supported the Monothelites. This Pope’s actions also gave ammo to critics of the idea of Papal Infallibility. This means the Pope is infallible when it comes to the teachings of the Church. Pope Honorius squeaked by this because he never actually taught Monothelitism or tried to change doctrine,he was just lazy about calling it out for being a heresy. The next several Popes,up to the fearless Pope Saint Martin I,will more than make up for this dip in the character of our Holy Father.
There’s a scene from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame where Quasimodo tries to save the life of the gypsy Esmeralda by locking her in the Church and shouting “SANCTUARY!”….the fact that they could hole up in the Church as a refuge from arrest is a law that goes all the way back to Pope Boniface V,who officially decreed that criminals and fugitives could seek sanctuary in a Church. This was a rule that was on the books until around the 1980’s. Also,if you’re an Immortal from the Highlands of Scotland,you can seek sanctuary in a Church annnnd nobody will get that and now I’ve lost my readers(or reader…)
Pope Boniface took a great interest in the further conversion of England and wrote many letters to the Christian princess of Kent in the effort to help her convince her husband to convert,which he did,and then he died in battle and it was all to naught as his region fell back into pagan hands. Oh well. Pope Boniface V favored priests over monks for clerical positions,which was a reversal of previous Popes. He is buried in St. Peter’s Basilica and I’ll finish this by not mentioning the bad guy from Hunchback……don’t look it up. It’s not important.
Pope Adeodatus I was the first Pope to use an official Papal seal on documents and letters. Bullae is the name of the lead seal that the Pope would use to stamp his approval and over time this became known as the Papal bull. This was the only form of official communication from the Pope until the 14th century when the Papal briefs came into being. These were less formal and were stamped with the Pope’s ring(Ring of the Fisherman)in red ink. Encyclicals fall under Papal briefs. Papal Bulls have more to do with religious orders or properties. My wife asked if my Pope this week did anything cool. I told her he’s the first guy with a Papal stamp and she replied,”I said ‘cool’…”
The Pantheon in Rome was built in the year 125 and was a pagan temple built with the intention of worshiping Roman gods like Jupiter and Mars. It’s the oldest building in the world with its original roof still intact and is basically the model for every government building in the United States. It had stood strong for nearly 500 years when the emperor of Constantinople gifted it to the new Pope in the year 609. Boniface IV quickly went to work throwing out the old gods(with the lower case “g”),and making it a place of worship for the one true God(with a capital “G”). Boniface dedicated the building to the Virgin Mary and to early Christian martyrs. He brought in over 30 cart loads of bones dug up from the Christian Catacombs and had them all reburied under the floor. Roman gods were lame anyways,the Romans just stole the Greek gods and renamed them. Lazy,lazy,lazy….
The Pantheon would later also become famous for being the burial place of the artist Raphael nearly a thousand years later. He apparently had a enormous state funeral there when he passed away at the early age of 37. Also happening during the reign of Pope Boniface was the rise of Islam under the prophet Muhammad but we’ve got a while before we get to any Crusade talk(whew). Pope Boniface IV’s feast day is either May 8th or May 25th(depends of who you ask),and his remains were moved three times before finally coming to rest in St.Peter’s in the thirteenth century under Pope Boniface VIII.
Our boys celebrated their First Communion today and I am so incredibly proud of them! These last two years of becoming Catholic and seeing my family grow in the Church have been the absolute happiest of my life. I had to get their pic next to this wonderful picture of Pope Saint John Paul II that hangs in our Church. He’s my second favorite Pope……this week. The order flips flops from week to week…it’s hard to choose between him and Benedict XVI.