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Pope Boniface VIII

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Boniface VIII, né Benedict Gaetano (ca. 1235 - October 11, 1303) was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1294 to 1303. Boniface's given name was either Benedict Cajetan or Benedetto Gaetano. He was elected in 1294 after Celestine V was persuaded to resign. In 1300 Boniface instituted the jubilees, which afterwards became a source of both profit and scandal to the church.

Boniface VIII put forward some of the strongest claims to temporal as well as spiritual supremacy of any Pope and meddled incessantly in foreign affairs. In his Bull of 1302, Unam Sanctam Boniface VIII proclaimed that it "is necessary for salvation that every living creature be under submission to the Roman pontiff", pushing Papal Supremacy to its historical extreme. These views and his intervention in 'temporal' affairs led to many bitter quarrels with the emperor Albert I of Habsburg, the powerful family of the Colonnas and with Philip the Fair of France.

Boniface VIII's quarrel with Philip the Fair became so resentful that he excommunicated him in 1303. However, before the Pope could lay France under an interdict, Boniface VIII was seized at Anagni by a party of horsemen under Philippe de Nogaret , an agent of Philip and Sciarra Colonna. Although he was released from capitivity after three days, he died of shock a month later, on October 11, 1303. No subsequent popes were to repeat Boniface VIII's claims.

Dante portrayed Boniface VIII, though alive at the date of his vision, as destined for the Inferno in his Divine Comedy.

Preceded by
Saint Celestine V
Succeeded by
Benedict XI

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Pope Boniface VIII

Initial text after the 9th edition (1880s) of a public domain encyclopedia. Please update as needed.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45