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The Great Cloud of Witnesses

Pope St. Felix I
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

Pope St. Felix I

December 30

A Roman by birth, Felix was chosen as Pope on 5 January 269, in succession to Pope Dionysius, who had died on 26 December 268.

Felix was the author of an important dogmatic letter on the unity of Christ's Person. The notice about Felix in the Liber Pontificalis ascribes to him a decree that Masses should be celebrated on the tombs of martyrs ("Hic constituit supra memorias martyrum missas celebrare"). The author of this entry was evidently alluding to the custom of celebrating Mass privately at the altars near or over the tombs of the martyrs in the crypts of the catacombs (missa ad corpus), while the solemn celebration always took place in the basilicas built over the catacombs. This practice, still in force at the end of the fourth century, dates apparently from the period when the great cemeterial basilicas were built in Rome, and owes its origin to the solemn commemoration services of martyrs, held at their tombs on the anniversary of their burial, as early as the third century.

St. Felix died on December 30, 274. Therefore, his feast is celebrated on December 30.

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