1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Felix (Popes)

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FELIX, the name of five popes.

Felix I., pope from January 269 until his death in January 274. He has been claimed as a martyr, and as such his name is given in the Roman calendar and elsewhere, but his title to this honour is by no means proved, and he has been probably confused with another bishop of the same name. He appears in connexion with the dispute in the church of Antioch between Paul of Samosata, who had been deprived of his bishopric by a council of bishops for heresy, and his successor Domnus. Paul refused to give way, and in 272 the emperor Aurelian was asked to decide between the rivals. He ordered the church building to be given to the bishop who was “recognized by the bishops of Italy and of the city of Rome” (Felix). See Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. vii. 30.

Felix II., antipope, was in 356 raised from the archdeaconate of Rome to the papal chair, when Liberius was banished by the emperor Constantius for refusing to subscribe the sentence of condemnation against Athanasius. His election was contrary to the wishes both of the clergy and of the people, and the consecration ceremony was performed by certain prelates belonging to the court. In 357 Constantius, at the urgent request of an influential deputation of Roman ladies, agreed to the release of Liberius on condition that he signed the semi-Arian creed. Constantius also issued an edict to the effect that the two bishops should rule conjointly, but Liberius, on his entrance into Rome in the following year, was received by all classes with so much enthusiasm that Felix found it necessary to retire at once from Rome. Regarding the remainder of his life little is known, and the accounts handed down are contradictory, but he appears to have spent the most of it in retirement at his estate near Porto. He died in 365.

Felix III., pope, was descended from one of the most influential families of Rome, and was a direct ancestor of Gregory the Great. He succeeded Simplicius in the papal chair on the 2nd of March 483. His first act was to repudiate the Henoticon, a deed of union, originating, it is supposed, with Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, and published by the emperor Zeno with the view of allaying the strife between the Monophysites and their opponents in the Eastern church. He also addressed a letter of remonstrance to Acacius; but the latter proved refractory, and sentence of deposition was passed against him. As Acacius, however, had the support of the emperor, a schism arose between the Eastern and Western churches, which lasted for 34 years. Felix died in 492.

Felix IV., pope, a native of Beneventum, was, on the death of John in 526, raised to the papal chair by the emperor Theodoric in opposition to the wishes of the clergy and people. His election was followed by serious riots. To prevent a recrudescence of these, Felix, on his death-bed, thought it advisable to nominate his own successor. His choice fell upon the archdeacon Boniface (pope as Boniface II.). But this proceeding was contrary to all tradition and roused very serious opposition. Out of two old buildings adapted by him to Christian worship, Felix made the church of SS. Cosimo and Damiano, near the Via Sacra. He died in September 530.

Felix V., the name taken by Amadeus (1383–1451), duke of Savoy, when he was elected pope in opposition to Eugenius IV. in 1439. Amadeus was born at Chambéry on the 4th of December 1383, and succeeded his father, Amadeus VII., as count of Savoy in 1391. Having added largely to his patrimonial possessions he became very powerful, and in 1416 the German king Sigismund erected Savoy into a duchy; after this elevation Amadeus added Piedmont to his dominions. Then suddenly, in 1434, the duke retired to a hermitage at Ripaille, near Thonon, resigning his duchy to his son Louis (d. 1465), although he seems to have taken some part in its subsequent administration. It is said, but some historians doubt the story, that, instead of leading a life of asceticism, he spent his revenues in furthering his own luxury and enjoyment. In 1439, when Pope Eugenius IV. was deposed by the council of Basel, Amadeus, although not in orders, was chosen as his successor, and was crowned in the following year as Felix V. In the stormy conflict between the rival popes which followed, the German king, Frederick IV., after some hesitation sided with Eugenius, and having steadily lost ground Felix renounced his claim to the pontificate in 1449 in favour of Nicholas V., who had been elected on the death of Eugenius. He induced Nicholas, however, to appoint him as apostolic vicar-general in Savoy, Piedmont and other parts of his own dominions, and to make him a cardinal. Amadeus died at Geneva on the 7th of January 1451.