The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Agatho (678-681)
681 (II)


(1) 1. BENEDETTO, iunior (?-685)

Birth. (No date found), Rome. Son of Giovanni. He possibly was of the Savelli family.

Education. He entered the clergy as a boy and studied at the Lateran Schola Cantorum.

Early life. He served in every ecclesiastical order up to the priesthood.

Cardinalate. Presbyter cardinalis in the Lateran palace in 681 (?); his title is not known. Elected to the papacy by the Roman clergy as a sign of resurgence of the Roman curia after the pontificate of Popes Agatho and Leo II, both Sicilians of Greek origin, as well as a sign of trust between Rome and Constantinople after the reconciliation between Pope Agatho and Emperor Constantine IV. He was elected pope in early July 683, but the imperial approval of his election did not take place until one year later. When he was still pope elect, he confirmed Pope Agathos restoration of Archbishop Wilfrid to the see of York, but it remained without effect. While Benedict was still pope-elect, he pressed on with the task of securing the adhesion of the west to the Sixth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, and its condemnation of monothelitism. Following Pope Leo II's steps, he sent regionary notary Pietro to Spain with the parts of the acts of the council which had been translated from Greek into Latin in Rome, and the letters with which the late pope had written to Visigothic King Ervigio, to a count named Simplicio, to Archbishop Quirico of Toledo, and to the rest of the bishops of the kingdom, urging them to sign their adherence to the council. King Ervigio then held a council at Toledo in November 684 to discuss the matter. The council condemned the Monothelite heresy, and Juliano,who had succeeded Quirico as archbishop of Toledo at the latter's death, drew up a profession of faith in the form of an Apologeticum fidei, which he sent to the pontiff. Pope Benedict II, although pleased with the result of the Council of Toledo, was not quite satisfied with some of the expressions used in the profession of faith of Archbishop Juliano and sent it back with a request for some changes in terminology. When the archbishop of Toledo learned that the pope had verbally criticized passages in his profession of faith, he sent him an indignant response.

Papacy. Consecrated Pope Benedict II on June 26, 684. At the request of the new pope, Emperor Constantine IV granted that in the future the papal election should be ratified by the exarch of Ravenna thus allowing the new pontiff to assume his office with the minimum delay. The emperor also established that the pope should be elected by the entire population of Rome, clergy, army and people. As a sign of the deep affection that the emperor had for the pope, the monarch sent to Rome locks of hair of his two young sons, Justinianus and Heraclius, which were received with great solemnity. They were a token indicating that the pope, the clergy and the army of Rome adopted the two boys. He restored the basilica of S. Pietro and the church of S. Lorenzo in Lucina; and beautified those of S. Valentino in via Flaminia and S. Maria ad Martyres (Pantheon). Although Pope Benedict II made many efforts to convert Macarius, former patriarch of Antioch, who had been condemned as a Monothelite and deposed by the Sixth General Council, they were to no avail and Macarius died a heretic. During his pontificate, he consecrated twelve bishops for different sees. Pope Benedict II's anonymous biographer in Liber pontificalis praises his love for the poor (paupertatis amator) and his largess (manu largissima). A direct beneficiary was the clergy of Rome. In Easter of 685, the pope conferred honors and promotions to many of the various holy orders. The biographer records the news with evident satisfaction. But not only the clerical state and the lay sacristans of the churches (mansionarii) benefited from the generous bequest provided by the pope in the large sum of thirty pounds of gold. The pope also extended his generosity to the monastery deaconries, which appear for the first time in Liber pontificalis in the pontificate of Pope Benedict II.. He fell ill after Easter Sunday March 26, 685 and died shortly after.

Death. May 8, 685, Rome. Buried in St. Peter's basilica, Rome (1). His tomb was destroyed during the demolition of the old basilica and the construction of the new one in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Sainthood. Inscribed in the Roman Martyrology, his feast is celebrated on May 8.

Bibliography. Bertolini, Ottorino. "Benedetto II, santo." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, I, 621-625; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab initio nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. Alphonsi Ciaconii Ord. Praed. & aliorum opera descriptæ : cum uberrimis notis. Ab Augustino Oldoino, Soc. Jesu recognitae, et ad quatuor tomos ingenti ubique rerum accessione productae. Additis Pontificum recentiorum imaginibus, & Cardinalium insignibus, plurimisque aeneis figuris, cum indicibus locupletissimis. Romæ : P. et A. De Rubeis, 1677, I, col. 479-483; Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. XXXVII; De Angelis, Maria Antonietta. "Bendetto II, papa, santo." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 126; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 145, no. 3; Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 79-80; Le Liber pontificalis. Paris : E. de Boccard, 1981, 1955. 3 v. : facsims. (Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome). Notes: Reprint of the 1955 edition./ Includes indexes./ Vol. 3: "Additions et corrections de L. Duchesne publiées par Cyrille Vogel ... avec L'Histoire du Liber pontificalis dupuis l'édition de L. Duchesne une bibliographie et des tables générales, I, 363-365; Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 126, no. 81; Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 55; Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab conditio Ecclesia. Ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Graz : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956. 2 v. Reprint. Originally published : Lipsiae : Veit et comp., 1885-1888. Original t.p. included : Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia : ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Editionem secundam correctam et auctam edidit Philippus Jaffè ; auspiciis Gulielmi Wattenbach; curaverunt S. Loewenfeld, F. Kaltenbrunner, P. Ewald, I, 241-242.

Links. Biography, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography, in English, Britannica; his image and brief biography, in English; biography by Joseph Brusher, S.J., Popes though the Ages; biography, in English, The Lives of the Popes in the Seventh Century, The History and the Lives of the Popes; biography by Ottorino Bertolini, Enciclopedia dei papai, Treccani; brief biography, in Italian, Dizionario biografico degli italiani, Treccani; biography, in Italian, Santi e Beati; biography, in German, Biographisch-Bibliographischen Kirchenlexikons; images and biography, in Spanish, oremosjuntos.com; his engraving, Fondazione Marco Besso, Rome; his engraving, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; engravings, Araldica Vaticana; his engraving, amazon.com.uk; his engraving, iStockphoto; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; and another engraving from the same source.

(1) This is the text of his epitaph taken from Montini, Le tombe dei papi, p. 126:

MAGNA TVIS BENEDICTE PATER MONVMENTA RELINQVIS
VIRTVTVM TITVLOS O DECVS ATQVE DOLOR
FVLGVRIS IN SPECIMEN MENTIS SPLENDORE CORVSCAS
PLVRA SED EXIGVO TEMPORE COEPTA FLVVNT
CVNCTA SACERDOTVM PRAESTANTIA MVNIA COMPLES
ET QVO QVISQVE BONO CLARVIT VNVS HABES
QVIPPE QVOD A PARVO MERITIS RADIANTIBVS AVCTVS
IVRE PATRVM SOLIVM PONTIFICALE FOVES
NON HOC AMBITIO RAPTI TIBI PRAESTAT HONORIS
INDOLIS EST FRVCTVS QVAM COMITATVR HONOS
ET QVIA SOLLERTER CHRISTI REGIS AGMINA PASTOR
PERCIPE SALVATI PRAEMIA CELSA GREGIS


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