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E01362: The short Life of Boniface II, bishop of Rome 530-532, in the Liber Pontificalis, written in Latin in Rome soon after his death, tells of two synods held in the basilica of *Peter the Apostle (S00036) in Rome; of an oath taken by the attendant clergy at Peter's confessio; of the burning there of an uncanonical decree; and of Boniface's burial at St Peter's, possibly on 17 October.

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posted on 2016-05-11, 00:00 authored by robert
Liber Pontificalis 57

Hic congregavit synodum in basilica beati Petri apostoli et fecit constitutum, ut sibi successorem ordinaret. Quod constitutum cum cyrographis sacerdotum et iusiurandum ante confessionem apostoli Petri in diaconum Vigilium constituit. Eodem tempore, factum iterum synodum, hoc censuerunt sacerdotes omnes propter reverentiam sedis sanctae et quia contra canones fuerat hoc factum et quia culpa eum respiciebat, ut successorem sibi constitueret; ipse Bonifatius papa reum se confessus est maiestatis, quod in diaconum Vigilium sua suscriptione cyrographi ante confessionem beati apostoli Petri ipsum constitutum praesentia omnium sacerdotum et cleri et senatus incendio consumpsit.

'He [Boniface II] gathered a synod in St Peter’s basilica, and issued a decree that he should ordain his own successor. He reinforced this decree, in favour of the deacon Vigilius, with the signatures of the priests (sacerdotes) and with an oath before the confessio of the apostle Peter. Then a second synod was held, and the priests (sacerdotes) all decided, thanks to their reverence for the holy see, that this had been done against the canons, and that his fault in appointing his own successor was glaring. Pope Boniface himself acknowledged he had acted unconstitutionally in putting his own signature to the document in favour of the deacon Vigilius. In front of the confessio of the blessed apostle Peter in the presence of all the sacerdotes, clergy, and senate, he destroyed the actual decree by fire.'


Qui etiam sepultus est in basilica beati Petri apostoli .

'He was buried in the basilica of the blessed Peter the apostle .'

Text: Duchesne 1886, 281. Translation: Davis 2010, 50, lightly modified.

The passage in brackets, <>, is an interpolation, recorded in only some manuscripts of the Liber Pontificalis; it is uncertain when it was added to the text.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Liber Pontificalis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Aristocrats


The Liber Pontificalis consists of a series of very short lives of popes. The preface attributes it to pope Damasus (366-384), but this attribution is obviously false. According to Louis Duchesne, the first modern editor of the Liber Pontificalis, the original series of lives was written in Rome by an anonymous author, probably a member of the lesser clergy, in the 530s, and contained the lives from *Peter the Apostle to Felix IV (ob. 530). Shortly after, before 546, the text was re-edited by another anonymous author and only this edition survives. The first edition, however, can be reconstituted on the basis of its two epitomes (and the second edition). The second edition started to be continued systematically from the time of pope Honorius (625–638). It should be noted that Theodor Mommsen dated both editions of the Liber Pontificalis to the 7th century, but his opinion is widely rejected and the commonly accepted dating is that of Duchesne. For the pre-Constantinian period (before 312), the credibility of the Liber Pontificalis is very low. The chronology is confused, and details concerning the personal lives, decisions and ordinations of the bishops of Rome at best reflect what people in the 6th century trusted to be true, at worst are a pure invention of the author. The situation changes with the later lives. Already the information of 4th-century papal foundations and offerings are generally trustworthy. The early 6th-century evidence, based on the author's first hand knowledge is even better, though still imperfect.


Boniface II is presented in his life as a bad pope who tried to force the clergy to accept the successor whom he himself had chosen. Still, a part of the manuscript tradition notes the date of his burial, just as in the case of sainted, or at least saintly, bishops.


Edition: Duchesne, L., Le Liber pontificalis. 2 vols (Paris: E. Thorin, 1886-1892) (with substantial introduction and commentary). Translation: Davis, R., The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Translated Texts for Historians 6; 3rd ed.; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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