Feast Day : May 8 (formerly May 25)
Boniface was born at Valeria, Abruzzi (Italy), the son of a physician named John. He may have been a Benedictine monk and student of Pope St. Gregory I (Gregory the Great, r. 590–604). He served under Gregory as deacon and dispensator (official in charge of administering the patrimonies). He was elected to the Chair of St. Peter to succeed Pope Boniface III (r. 607) late in 607, although he was not consecrated until August 25, 608, after Emperor Phocos had confirmed his election. Phocos presented him with the Pantheon in Rome, which Boniface converted into a Christian church, consecrated to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs (the Santa Maria Rotunda). He had some 28 cartloads of bones translated from the sacred catacombs and placed in a porphyry basin beneath the high altar of the church. Boniface later received a visit from Mellitus, the first bishop of London. Mellitus was long supposed to have left Rome carrying letters from Boniface to Lawrence, archbishop of Canterbury, and Ethelbert, king of England, “concerning what was to be observed by the Church of England,” though these are now thought to be spurious. Boniface died in 615 in retirement in his own home, which, following the example of Gregory, he had converted into a monastery. He relics were interred in the portico of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, but were subsequently moved three times: in the 10th or 11th century, at the close of the 13th century, and finally on October 21, 1603, when they were placed in the new St. Peter’s. His cult began during the reign of Boniface VIII (r. 1294–1303).