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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 111-113.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 483-492.

FELIX, by birth a Roman, son of Felix a presbyter, was bishop from the time of Odoacer, whose power in Italy lasted fourteen years, till the reign of Theodoric, who, though he made Ravenna the seat of the empire, yet the city or Rome was much indebted to his bounty. For he rebuilt the sepulchre of Octavius, exhibited shows to the people according to ancient custom, repaired the public buildings and churches, and indeed neglected nothing that became a good and generous prince. And to confirm and establish the empire, he married Andefleda, daughter of Clodoveus, King of France, and gave in marriage his sister to Huneric, king of the Vandals, and one of his daughters to Alaric, king of the Visigoths, and the other to King Gondibate.

Felix, now fully understanding that Peter the Stammerer, the 112 Eutychian, who had been banished for his heretical opinions upon the complaint and at the desire of Acacius, was by the same Acacius recalled from exile, suspected that there was a private agreement between them, and therefore excommunicated them both by the authority of the Apostolic see, which was confirmed in a Synod of the orthodox.1 But three years after, the emperor Zeno testifying that they were penitent, Felix sends two bishops, Messenus and Vitalis, with full power, upon enquiry into the truth of their repentance, to absolve them. These legates arriving at the city Heraclea, were soon corrupted with bribes, and neglected to act 113 according to their commission. Whereupon Felix, out of a just indignation, having first called a council upon that occasion, excommunicates them too, as Simoniacs and betrayers of the trust reposed in them, though Messenus, who confessed his fault, and begged time to evince the sincerity of his repentance, had it accordingly granted him. The same Felix also built the church of St Agapetus, near that of St Laurence, and ordained that churches should be consecrated by none but bishops. It is said that at this time Theodorus, a Greek presbyter, wrote against the heretics a book of the Harmony of the Old and New Testaments; and some reckon among the men of note in this age, the learned and famous divine John Damascene, who wrote the Book of Sentences, imitating therein Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory Nyssene, and Didymus of Alexandria, and compiled also certain treatises of medicine, in which he gives an account of the causes and cure of diseases. Our Felix, having at two Decembrian ordinations made twenty-eight presbyters, five deacons, thirty bishops, died, and was buried in the church of St Paul. He sat in the chair eight years, eleven months, seventeen days; and by his death the see was vacant five days.


 1  This is not very accurately stated. The emperor Zeno, with the assistance of Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, put forth in the year 482 the Henoticon (“Bond of Union”), a document intended, by comprehensiveness of statement, to reconcile the various parties that were dividing the church. But it did not satisfy the Nestorians or Eutychians, and Pope Felix III., who succeeded to the Roman Popedom next year, indignantly repudiated it, declaring that the emperor was taking upon him to make articles of faith. He further wrote to Acacius charging him with having expelled the lawful bishop of Alexandria, John Palaia, in order to put the Eutychian Peter in his place. Acacius replied that Felix had been misinformed by John, and that Peter was both duly chosen and orthodox. There is no evidence of Zeno’s certificate of his “penitence.” Thereupon Felix sent his two legates, and they were induced, whether by fair or foul means, to assent to Acacius’s action. This was a very critical moment between the east and west. The primacy of the Roman Pontiffs had come to be recognised, as the bishops of the chief city of the world, and they had begun since the days of Innocent I. to rest their claims on the purely religious ground of their succession from St Peter. But the Bishops of Constantinople had not admitted such a claim, and Acacius, who was watching the gradual downfall of the western empire, saw, in imagination, Constantinople rising to the foremost place, and himself as Primal Pontiff. Hence he assumed the title for Constantinople of “Mother of all Christians and of the Orthodox Religion.” Pope Simplicius had protested, but his protest is lost. There was therefore a good deal of bitterness already existing when this new quarrel arose. Felix on the return of Messenus and Vitalis not only excommunicated them, but Acacius. He was encouraged thus to flout the imperial authority by the successes of Odoacer in the west, though he did not venture to include Zeno, the prime mover, in his ban, but instead even addressed him in terms of adulation. One of the monks of Constantinople who was on the Roman side, audaciously pinned the Pope’s sentence upon the robe of Acacius as he was proceeding to the altar to celebrate holy communion. Acacius calmly proceeded with the service until the due moment arrived, when he suddenly turned, and in a calm but ringing voice uttered a counter ban against Felix. The schism lasted forty years; neither party would give way; the great eastern patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, continued in communion with Acacius, and he held his see until his death. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  49. Simplicius I. 50. Felix III. Next Pope: 51. Gelasius I.

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