Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Benedict II., Pope and Confessor
HE was a native of Rome, and having been brought up from his infancy in the service of the church, was well skilled in the holy scriptures, and in the ecclesiastical chanting, or church music, of which he was a devout admirer. To sing assiduously the divine praises on earth is a kind of novitiate to the state of the blessed in heaven, and an employment the most sweet and comfortable to a soul that truly loves God.1 Benedict was always humble, meek, patient, mortified, a lover of poverty, and most generous to the poor. Being ordained priest, he had a share in the government of the Roman Church under the pontificates of Agatho and Leo II. Benedict was chosen pope upon the death of the latter, in 683, but to obtain the emperors consent, it was necessary to wait almost a year, till the return of messengers sent to Constantinople. On which account the see remained vacant all that time, and Benedict was only ordained on the 26th of June, 684. The emperor Constans II., grandson to Heraclius, had endeavoured to establish in the East the Monothelite heresy during an uneasy reign of twenty-six years: but being slain by an Armenian servant at Syracusa in Sicily, in 668, his son Constantine Pogonatus, or the Bearded, ascended the throne, and put to death the man who had murdered his father, and who had been saluted emperor by the army in Sicily. Constantine was a most religious and orthodox prince, and reigned seventeen years with great glory. He concurred with Pope Agatho in assembling the sixth general council at Constantinople, in 680. Pope Leo II. sent the decrees of the synod into Spain. After his decease Benedict II. pursued the same affair, and the Spanish bishops in a council at Toledo, approved and received the definition of faith published by the sixth general council. They despatched to the pope a copy of their decree and confession of faith with their subscriptions annexed, wherein they acknowledge two wills in Christ. Pope Benedict, however, observed in their confession certain obscure expressions, of which he desired a clearer explanation. For this purpose the fifteenth council of Toledo was held, in which they were expounded in a sense entirely orthodox. The bishops of Rome were anciently chosen by the clergy and people of Rome, according to the discipline of those times; the Christian emperors were the head of the people, on which account their consent was required. But whilst they resided in the East, this condition produced often long delays and considerable inconveniences. Pope Benedict represented this to Constantine, and that pious prince readily passed a law addressed to the clergy, the people, and the army at Rome, allowing that the person by them elected should be forthwith ordained, as Anastasius relates: nevertheless, some emperors still required to be consulted. Such was the veneration of this good prince for the holy Pope Benedict, that he sent to him a lock of the hair of his two sons, Justinian and Heraclius, as a token of their adoption by him, according to the custom of those times. This religious emperor overcame the Saracens in a war of seven years continuance both by sea and land; he recovered from them several provinces, and obliged them to pay him an annual tribute. He died in peace, in 685. Pope Benedict laboured much for the conversion of heretics, and in repairing and adorning churches. He did not complete eleven months in the pontificate; but filled this short term with good works. He died on the 7th of May, 686, and was buried in St. Peters church. See his letter, and Anastasius Biblioth. t. 6 Concil.
Note 1. The Cistercian Breviary calls this the principal end and function of that holy Order; from an affectionate regard to which several monasteries take their name, as that of Laude, or De Laude Dei, &c. In the cathedral of Tours there is this epitaph of Ouvrande, a pious master of music: