Antipope Felix II

Antipope Felix II was installed as Pope in 355 after the Emperor Constantius II banished the reigning Pope, Liberius, for refusing to subscribe the sentence of condemnation against Saint Athanasius. In May 357 the Roman laity, which had remained faithful to Liberius, demanded that Constantius, who was on a visit to Rome, should recall Liberius. The Emperor planned to have Felix and Liberius rule jointly, but when Liberius returned Felix was forced to retire to Porto, near Rome, where, after making an unsuccessful attempt to establish himself again in Rome, he died on 22 November 365. [ [http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/203964/Felix-II Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Felix (II)"] ] [ [http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/avellana-1-english The Papal Schism between Liberius and Felix,] 1-4]

The Antipope Felix was later wrongly confused with a Roman martyr named Felix, with the result that he was included in lists of the Popes as Felix II and that the succeeding Popes of the same name (Pope Felix III and Pope Felix IV) were given wrong numerals, as was Antipope Felix V. ["Annuario Pontificio" 2008 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2008 ISBN 978-88-209-8021-4), p. 9*]

The Catholic Encyclopedia (1909) suggested that the reason for what it calls "this distortion of the true facts" was that, according to the "Liber Pontificalis", which at this point may be registering a reliable tradition, Felix built a church on the Via Aurelia, which is where the Roman martyr of an earlier date was buried. [ [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06030a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: "Felix II"] ] A more recent source says that of the martyr Felix nothing is known except his name, that he was a martyr, and that he was buried in the cemetery on the Via Portuensis that bears his name. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 132]

The Catholic Encyclopedia remarked that "the real story of the antipope was lost and he obtained in local Roman history the status of a saint and a confessor. As such he appears in the Roman Martyrology on 29 July." At that time (1909) the Roman Martyrology had the following text: "At Rome, on the Aurelian Way, St. Felix II, pope and martyr. Being expelled from his See by the Arian emperor Constantius for defending the Catholic faith, and being put to the sword privately at Cera in Tuscany, he died gloriously. His body was taken away from that place by clerics, and buried on the Aurelian Way. It was afterwards brought to the Church of the Saints Cosmas and Damian, where, under the Sovereign Pontiff Gregory XIII, it was found beneath the altar with the relics of the holy martyrs Mark, Marcellian, and Tranquillinus, and with the latter was put back in the same place on the 31st of July. In the same altar were also found the bodies of the holy martyrs Abundius, a priest, and Abundantius, a deacon, which were shortly after solemnly transferred to the church of the Society of Jesus, on the eve of their feast." This entry was based on what the Catholic Encyclopedia called later legends that confound the relative positions of Felix and Liberius. More recent editions of the Roman Martyrology have instead: "At Rome, at the third milestone on the Via Portuensis, in the cemetery dedicated to his name, Saint Felix, martyr.""Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)]

The feast day of the Roman martyr Felix is 29 July. The antipope Felix died, as stated above, on a 22 November, and his death was not a martyr's, [ [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Felix_II 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Felix II"] ] occurring when the Peace of Constantine had been in force for half a century.

As well as the Roman Martyrology, the Roman Missal identified the Saint Felix of 29 July with the antipope. This identification, still found in the 1920 typical edition, [ [http://www.sanctamissa.org/EN/resources/missale-romanum-pdf.html 1920 typical edition of the Roman Missal, with feasts updated to the late 1920s] ] does not appear in the 1962 typical edition. [ [http://www.musicasacra.com/pdf/missale62.pdf 1962 typical edition of the Roman Missal] ] To judge by the Marietti printing of 1952, which omits the numeral "II" and the word "Papae", the correction had already been made by then.

References

External links

* [http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/avellana-1-english The Papal Schism between Liberius and Felix] (a primary source)
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06030a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: "Felix II"]
* [http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/203964/Felix-II Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Felix (II)"]
* [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Felix_II 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Felix II"]


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