12 November 607 A.D. Boniface III Dies—Rome’s 66th; Emperor Phocas; Roman Clerk is “Universal Bishop” Vis a Vis Constantinople
Pope Boniface III
Pope Boniface III, of Roman extraction and the son of John Cataadioce, was elected to succeed Sabinian after an interregnum of nearly a year; he was consecrated 19 February, 607; d. 12 November of the same year. He had been ordained a deacon of the Roman Church, and in 603 sent by Gregory the Great as apocrisiarius, orlegate, to the court of Constantinople, where, by his tact and prudence, he appears to have gained the favourable regard of the Emperor Phocas. After his elevation to the See of Rome, Boniface obtained a decree from Phocas, against Cyriacus, Bishop of Constantinople, by which it was ordained, that "the See of Blessed Peter the Apostle should be the head of all the Churches", and that the title of "Universal Bishop" belonged exclusively to the Bishop of Rome — an acknowledgment somewhat similar to that made by Justinian eighty years before (Novell., 131, c. ii, tit. xiv). At Rome Boniface held a council, attended by seventy-two bishopsand all the Roman clergy, wherein he enacted a decree forbidding anyone under pain of excommunication, during the lifetime of a pope or of a bishop, to treat of or to discuss the appointment of his successor, and setting forth that no steps were to be taken to provide for a successor until three days after the burial of the deceased. The acts of the council are lost, and it is not known what may have been the occasion for thedecree. Pope Boniface was a man "of tried faith and character" (St. Gregory, Epistle XIII.41). He died within a year of his elevation and was buried in St. Peter's. His epitaph is found in the works of Duchesne and Mann.