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BONIFACE


669


BONIFACE


four hundred horsemen; -nith them he returned to Rome. Before leaving Anagni he pardoned several of the marauders captured by the townsmen, except- ing the plunderers of Church property, unless they returned it within three days. He reached Rome, 13 Sept., but only to fall under the close surveillance of the Orsini. No one will wonder that his bold spirit now gave way beneath the weight of grief and melancholy. He died of a violent fever, 11 October, in full possession of his senses and in the presence of eight cardinals and the chief members of the papal household, after receiving the sacraments and mak- ing the usual profession of faith. His life seemed destined to close in gloom, for, on account of an unusually violent storm, he was buried, says an old chronicler, ■nith less decency than became a pope. His body lies in the crj'pt of St. Peter's in a large marble sarcophagus, laconicalh' inscribed Bonifaciu.s Papa VIII. When his tomb was opened (9 Oct., 160.5) the body was found quite intact, especially the shapely hands, thus disproving another calumny, viz., that he had died in a frenzy, gnawing his hands, beating his brains out against the wall, and the like (Wiseman).

Boniface was a patron of the fine arts such as Rome had never yet seen among its popes, though, as Guiraud warns us (p. 6). it is not easy to separate what is owing to the pope's own initiative from what we owe to his nephew and biographer, the art -loving Cardinal Stefaneschi. Modern historians of Renais- sance art (Jliintz, Guiraud) date its first efficient progress from him. The "idolatri,-" accusation of the Colonna comes from the marble statues that grateful towns, like Anagni and Perugia, raised to nim on public sites, "where there once were idols", says a contemporarj-, an anti-Bonifacian libel (Gui- raud, 4). The Anagni statue stands yet in the cathe- dral of that town, repaired by him. He also repaired and fortified the Gaetani palace in Anagni, and im- proved in a simOar way neighbouring tomis. At Rome the Palace of the Senator was enlarged, Castel Sant' Angelo fortified, and the Church of Sa:i Lorenzo in Panispema built anew. He encouraged the work on the cathedral of Perugia, while that gem of orna- mental Gothic, the cathedral of Orvieto (1290-1309), was largely finished during his pontificate. For the great Jubilee of 1300 he had the churches of Rome restored and decorated, notably St. John Lateran, St. Peter's, and St. Marj' Major. He called Giotto to Rome and gave him constant occupation. A portrait of Boniface by Giotto is still to be seen in St. John Lateran; in our own day M. Muntz has restored the original concept, and in it is seen the noble balcony of Cassetta, whence, during the jubilee, the pontiff was wont to bestow upon the vast multitude the blessing of Christ's vicar. In the time of Boniface the Cosimati continued and improved their work and under the influence of Giotto rose, like Cavallini, to higher concepts of art. The delicate French miniaturists were soon equalled by the pope's Vatican scribes; two glorious missals of Oderisio da Gubbio, ' ' Agubliio's honour", may yet be seen at the Vatican, where lived and worked his disciple, like- wise immortalized by Dante (Purg., XI, 79), who speaks of ' ' the laughing leaves touched by the brush of Franco Bolognese". Finally, sculpture was honoured by Boniface in the person of Amolfo di Canibio, who built for him the "Chapel of the Crib" in St. Mary Major, and executed (Miintz) the sarcoph- agus in which he was buried. Boniface was also a friend of the sciences. He founded (6 June, 1.303) the University of Rome, known as the Sapienza, and in the same year the LTniversity of Fermo. Finally, it was Boniface who began anew the Vatican Library, whose treasures had been scattered, together ■with the papal archives, in 1227. when the Roman Frangipani passed over to the side of Frederick II


and took vrith them the turns chartularia, i. e. the ancient repository of the documents of the Holy See. The tliirty-three Greek manuscripts the Vatican Librarj' contained in 1311 are pronounced by Fr. Ehrle the earliest known, and long the most impor- tant, medieval collection of Greek works in the West. Boniface honoured with increased solemnity (1298) the feasts of the four evangelists, twelve Apostles, and four Doctors of the Church (Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great, egregios ipsius doctores Ecclesicr) by raising them to the rank of "double feasts". He was one of the most distinguished canon- ists of his age, and as pope enriched the general ecclesiastical legislation by the promulgation (" Sacro- sanctae ", 129S) of a large number of his ovm constitu- tions and of those of his predecessors, since 1234, when Gregory IX promulgated his five books of Decretals. In reference to this the collection of Boniface was entitled "Liber Sextus", i. e., Sixth Book of Pontifical Constitutions (Laurin, Introd. in Corp. Juris can., Freiburg, 1SS9), being constructed on the same lines. Few popes have aroused more diverse and contradictory appreciations. Protestant historians, generally, and even modern Catholic ■^Titers, wrote Cardinal Wiseman in 1844, class lum among the wicked popes, as an ambitious, haughty, and unrelenting man, deceitful also and treacherous, his whole pontificate one record of evil. To dissipate this grossly exaggerated and even calumnious view, it is well to distinguish his utterances and deeds as pope from his personal character, that even in his life- time seemed to many unsjmipathetic. Careful examination of the sources of his most famous pubUc pronouncements has shown that they are largely a mosaic of teachings of earlier theologians, or solemn re-enforcements of the canons of the Church and well-kno's\"n Bulls of his predecessors. His chief aims, the peace of Europe and the recovery of the Holy Land, were those of all preceding ]>opes. He did no more than his duty in defending the unity of the Church and the supremacy of ecclesiastical authority when threatened by Philip the Fair. His politico- ecclesiastical dealings with the kings of Europe will naturally be blamed by Erastians and by those who ignore, on the one hand, the rapacity of an Edward and the ■wily vmdictiveness and obtuse selfishness of a Philip, and on the other, the supreme fatherly office of the medieval pope as the respected head of one mighty family of peoples, whose civil institutions were only slowly coalescing amid the decay of feudal- ism and ancient barbarism (Gosselin, Von Reumont), and who were long conscious that in the past thej' owed to the Cliurch alone (i. e., to the pope) sure and swift justice, equitable courts and procedure, and relief from a feudal absolutism justified as yet by no commensurate public service. "Tho loftiest, truest view of the character and conduct of the popes lias often been overlooked", says Cardinal Wiseman (op. cit.); "the divine instinct which ani- mated them, the immortal destiny allotted to them, the heavenly cause confided to them, the superhuman aid which strengthened them could not be appreci- iated but by a Catholic mind, and are too generally excluded from Protestant historians, or are trans- formed into corresponding human capacities, or policies, or energies, or virtues. " He goes on to say that, after examination of several popular assertions affecting the moral and ecclesiastical conduct of Boniface, this pope appeared to him in a new light, " as a pontiff who began his reign ■nith most glorious promise and closed it amid sad calamities; who devoted, through it all, the energies of a great mind, cultivated by profound learning and matured by long experience in the most delicate ecclesiastical affairs, to the attainment of a truly noble end; and who, throughout his career, displayed many great virtues, and could plead in extenuation of his faults the con-