« Felix III., bishop of Rome Felix (4) IV., bp. of Rome Felix (26) I., bp. of Aptunga »

Felix (4) IV., bp. of Rome

Felix (4) IV. (otherwise III.; see Felix II.), bp. of Rome (July 526—Oct. 530) during 4 years, 2 months, and 14 or 18 days (Anastas. Biblioth.). The same authority states that he built the basilica of SS. Cosmas and Damian, restored that of the martyr St. Saturninus, and was buried, on Oct. 12, in the basilica of St. Peter. There is little to be told of him, except the circumstances of his appointment. His predecessor, John I., had died in prison at Ravenna, into which he had been thrown by Theodoric the Ostrogoth, who then ruled the West as king of Italy. Theodoric took the unprecedented step of appointing his successor on his own authority, without waiting for the customary election by clergy and people. This high-handed proceeding seems to have been at length acquiesced in. No subsequent king or emperor laid claim to a like power of interference in the appointment of popes, though the confirmation of elections by the civil power was insisted on, and continued till the election of Zachary in 752, when the confirmation of the exarch of Ravenna, as representing the Eastern emperor, was first dispensed with under the Carlovingian empire. The same freedom of election by clergy and people continued to be the theory till the appointment was given to the College of Cardinals during the pontificate of Nicholas II., a.d. 1059. For previous interventions of the civil power see Bonifacius II., Eulalius (1), Felix III., Symmachus, Laurentius (10). The only further event known as marking the pontificate of Felix is the issue of an edict by Athalaric, the successor of Theodoric, requiring all civil suits against ecclesiastics to be preferred before the bishop and not the secular judge. The edict was called forth by Felix, with the Roman clergy, having complained to the king that the Goths had invaded the rights of churches and dragged the clergy before lay tribunals. It extended only to the Roman clergy, "in honour of the Apostolic see" (Cassiodor. lib 8, c. 24). Justinian I. afterwards extended it, though with an appeal to the civil tribunal, to all ecclesiastics (Justin. Novel. 83, 123).

For this pope's letter, esp. letter to Caesarius of Arles, requiring probation from candidates for the priesthood before their ordination, see Migne, Patr. Lat. lxv. An important decretum of this pope was made known by Amelli in 1882, and edited by Mommsen in Neuer Archiv fur älter deutsch. Gesch. Kunde, 1886. See Duchesne, La Succession du pape Félix IV. (Rome, 1883).

[J.B—Y.]

« Felix III., bishop of Rome Felix (4) IV., bp. of Rome Felix (26) I., bp. of Aptunga »
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