Feast Day : January 30
Felix was a cardinal in Samnium when Pope St. John I (r. 523–526) died in prison in May 526. John I had been arrested by Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths and of Italy, who was threatened by John’s appeal to members of the Eastern as well as Western Church. Theodoric put forward Felix as a candidate for the Chair of St. Peter, and the Roman clergy and laity acquiesced to his wishes. Felix was consecrated on July 12. On August 30, Theodoric died. The throne passed to his grandson, Athalaric, but because he was then a minor, the government was put in the hands of his mother, Theodoric’s daughter, Amalasuntha. Fortunately, she was well disposed toward the Catholics. She allowed Felix the traditional privilege of judging clergy who were accused of misconduct and she gave him as gifts a pagan temple, which he had reconstructed as the church of SS. Cosmas and Damian. This church still exists; in its apse there is a large and magnificent mosaic executed on Felix’s order. In 529, Felix sent 25 pronouncements on grace and free will to Cæsarius of Arles, who presented them before the Synod of Orange. The synod accepted them as a confirmation of the teachings of St. Augustine and a condemnation of semi-Pelagianism. Felix grew increasingly concerned about the Roman Church. On the one hand, many believers supported the Goths, while on the other, many leaned toward Byzantium. When he fell fatally ill in September 530, in the hopes of keeping peace Felix gave his pallium to his archdeacon Boniface and let it be known that Boniface was to be his successor. However, in the papal elections that followed his death, his wishes were disregarded. Felix’s relics rest in the portico of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.