Benedict, son of John, was born about 635 AD in Rome. As a youth, he was sent to the schola cantorum, which had been set up by Pope Gregory to teach chant to young men. Here, Benedict excelled in his knowledge of Sacred Scripture and in his ability to sing. He became a priest and was remarkable for his generosity, humility and love of the poor. As a young man, Benedict became active in Church government, serving under both Pope Agatho and Pope Leo II.
Becoming a cardinal December 5, 680, Benedict was among those qualified to become pope. When Leo II died, Benedict was elected in 683. However, in the traditional way of conducting government, the emperor was required to confirm the election of pope before he could be consecrated. Due to the difficulty in travel at that time, Benedict was obligated to wait eleven months to hear the news.
The waiting for news from the emperor was very time consuming. One of the first things Benedict did was ask for a change. Emperor Constantine the Bearded responded with a decree that either abolished imperial confirmations or made such confirmations obtainable from the Exarch of Ravenna. However, the tradition of waiting seemed to continue. In response to the friendly relations which the pope and the emperor had, the pope offered to socially “adopt” the two sons of Constantine, Justinian and Heraclius. The “sign” of adoption was that the emperor sent locks of hair from both boys to the pope.
The Council of Constantinople (680-681) had been ended and accepted by Pope Leo II. Leo had sent word to the Christian world that the Monothelite heresy was condemned. The Spanish bishops in a council at Toledo, approved and received the definition of faith published by this general council. They dispatched to the pope a copy of their decree and confession of faith with their subscriptions annexed, wherein they acknowledged two wills in Christ. Pope Benedict, however, observed in their confession two obscure expressions, forwarded by Archbishop Julian of Toledo. He desired a clearer explanation. For this purpose, King Ervig called the fifteenth council of Toledo, in which these two were rewritten in a sense entirely orthodox.
One of the Monothelites was named Macarius. This man had been the patriarch of Antioch but had been removed from office because of false beliefs in March 681. But Benedict wasn't one to just condemn and punish. He sent the notary, Peter, to plead with Macarius and see if he wouldn't turn back to the truth. But Macarius refused to change his mind. The attempt was futile. Luckily for the Europeans, most of the remaining Monothelites were now under the influence of the Umayyad Caliphate (Muslims).
During his eleven month reign, Benedict was obligated to once more confirm Pope Agatho’s demand to restore Archbishop Wilfrid to the see of York, England. It was some time before Wilfrid was restored.
Despite his short reign, Benedict was able to begin restoration projects at various churches in Rome. He was liberal in his donations to the clergy, the deacons who directed help for the poor and for the lay sacristans.
Pope Benedict II died May 8, 685 in Rome and was buried at St. Peter’s. Emperor Constantine IV died four months later and his son, Justinian, was next in line