Pope Felix was a member of the upper priesthood closely associated with the senatorial class. Sometimes, he is referred to as Pope Felix II. He is now acknowledged as a catholic saint.
Below is his life before and after papacy, his birth, and his death:
1. Before becoming Pope
Pope Felix III was the cardinal of Rome from 13th March 483 up to his death. He took over after St. Simplicius on 13th March. He was born into a Roman senatorial household in Rome, Italy.
He was the son of the nominal priest of Fasciola (SS. Nereo e Achilleo). He later got married and became a widow before being designated to be Pope.
He had two children, only one of whom is mentioned. It is said that his son, Gordianus, was a priest and that through him, he was assumed to be the great-great-grandfather to Pope Gregory I, and probably linked to Pope Agapetus I.
2. Life during papacy
His ascension to papacy started on 13th March 483 and ended on his death. Pope St. Felix III died on 1st March of 492 in Rome, Italy. The cause of death is identified as natural causes.
During his rise to the papacy, the church was still in conflict with the Eutychian heresy. In the previous year, sovereign Zeno, at the proposition of Acacius, had delivered a decree known as the Act of Union or the Heretikon.
In this decree, it was stated that there was no emblem, other than that of Nice, plus the inclusions of 381, that should be received. The order was proposed as a pledge of resolution between the Eutychians and the Catholics.
However, it brought about more significant disagreements and a split between the church of the East into three or four segments.
Felix was laid to rest in Saint Paul’s basilica in the family crypt. He is also said to be buried on the Ostian Way. He was then officially declared to become a saint.
Pope Felix III is commemorated on 1st March and is the 48th pope. However, in some calendars, he is celebrated on 25th February.
4. Events during his papacy
Pope Felix III’s first deed was rejecting the Henotikon. He barred Acacius, the bishop of Constantinople, in 484 because of publishing the Henotikon document that favored Monophysitism with sovereign Zeno.
He fought against Eutychianism, also called Monophysitism, which means that Christ did not the nature of man besides that of God.
Therefore, the Acacian Schism between the East and West, which lasted for 35 years, begun after he rejected the Henotikon.
As Catholics rejected the proclamation, the monarch had driven the headmen of Alexandria and Antioch from their sees. Peter the Tanner had meddled into Antioch’s See, and Peter Mongus had snatched the See of Alexandria.
He also barred Peter the Fuller and Peter Mongus, a deed that paved the way for the remedial of the schism between East and West in 518 in the course of Justinian’s era.
Having assembled a council of a church, Felix sent representatives to the sovereign and Acacius, with an appeal that they should banish Peter Mongus from Alexandria. He also appealed that Acacius comes to Rome to give details on his behavior.
The representatives were incarcerated and held. When promises and threats pressed them, they resolved to be unified with the captives by clearly saying Peter’s name in the consecrated diptychs’ scriptures.
Simeon, one of the monks of the Acaemeti, made it known in Rome that the sovereign and Acacius had betrayed him, Felix assembled a council of the church.
The council consisted of seventy-seven patriarchs in the Lateran Basilica, where the papal representatives and Acacius were banished.
The sovereign supported Acacius, and they overlooked the banishment, took down the name of the Pope from the blessed diptychs and stayed in the See till his demise, which came one or two years later.
Phravitas, his descendant, sent emissaries to Pope Felix, guaranteeing that he would not have to be unified with Peter. The Pope learns that this was a betrayal, and the split continued.
In the interim, Peter died, and Ethymus, the one who got the throne after Phravitas, also wanted to be unified with Rome, but Felix declined.
This denial was because Ethymus would not take down the names of two of his forerunners from the blessed diptychs.
The Pope also came up with the conditions that the African people who had renounced their religion during the Vandal oppressions were to subscribe to.
The Acacian split that lasted for 35 years was the first severe split between the West and the East. After the death of Acacius in 489 and Byzantine sovereign Anastasius I’s succession in 491, plans were made to solve the dispute, but they were unsuccessful.
While Felix did not debar the sovereign who was accountable for the establishment of the Henotikon, he lectured him in a letter that had an altered toned from those addressed to him from the courthouse.
He warned the emperor and told him to learn great things from those in charge of the great things, and not from those with the aspiration to teach them.
He utterly declared the dominance of the church in transcendent problems. In a way, that epistle was the first gun burning in the massive scuffle between territory and papacy.
Pope Felix also summoned a Lateran council on 13th March 487, which debated the resolution of priests, bishops, and even non-specialists who had agreed to be christened again by the Arians in front of the violent oppression of the African church by the Vandals.
The Arian Vandals, Huneric and his father Genseric, had been oppressing the church for over 50 years and thrown several Catholics into exile.
Once amity was reinstated, those who had deviated, fallen, and had been christened by the vandals preferred to come back to church.
Felix was repulsed by some of the people who had chosen to remain firm, and they made an earnest request to the Pope who summoned a Synod in 487. He also sent epistles to the bishops in Africa, clarifying the settings that were appropriate for them to be received back.
5. End and succession of his papacy
Pope St. Felix III’s papacy came to an end when he died on 1st March of 492 in Rome, Italy. He had been in power for eight years, eleven months, and twenty-three days. He was succeeded by Gelasius I.
6. Interesting facts about Pope Felix III
He fought against Eutychianism.
He banished Peter the Fuller and Peter Mongus, paving the way for the remedial of the schism between East and West.
He denied Ethymus’ unification with Rome.
He is commemorated on 1st March.