Pope Silverius

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Pope Saint

Silverius
Silverius2.jpg
Papacy began8 June 536
Papacy endedMarch 538
Predecessor Agapetus I
Successor Vigilius
Personal details
Birth nameSilverius
BornUnknown date
Campania, Italy
Died(538-12-02)2 December 538
Palmarola, Kingdom of the Ostrogoths
Sainthood
Feast day20 June
Papal styles of
Pope Silverius
Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous style Saint

Pope Silverius (died 2 December 538) ruled the Holy See from 8 June 536 to his deposition in 538, a few months before his death. His rapid rise to prominence from a deacon to the papacy coincided the efforts of Ostrogothic king Theodahad (nephew to Theodoric the Great), who intended to install a pro-Gothic candidate just before the Gothic War. Later deposed by Byzantine general Belisarius, he was tried and sent to exile on the desolated island of Palmarola, where he starved to death in 538.

Holy See Episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy

The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, refers to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome with universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, as well as a sovereign entity of international law.

Theodahad King of the Ostrogoths

Theodahad, also known as Thiudahad was king of the Ostrogoths from 534 to 536 and a nephew of Theodoric the Great through his mother Amalafrida. He is probably the son of Amalafrida's first husband because her second marriage was about 500 AD. His sister was Amalaberga.

Theodoric the Great King of the Germanic Ostrogoths and ruler of Italy

Theodoric the Great, also spelled Theoderic or called Theodoric the Amal, was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy between 493–526, regent of the Visigoths (511–526), and a patrician of the Roman Empire. As ruler of the combined Gothic realms, Theodoric controlled an empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Adriatic Sea. He kept good relations between Ostrogoths and Romans, maintained a Roman legal administration and oversaw a flourishing scholarly culture as well as overseeing a significant building program across Italy.

Contents

Life

He was a legitimate son of Pope Hormisdas, born in Frosinone, Lazio, some time before his father entered the priesthood. Silverius was probably consecrated 8 June 536. He was a subdeacon when king Theodahad of the Ostrogoths forced his election and consecration. Historian Jeffrey Richards interprets his low rank prior to becoming pope as an indication that Theodahad was eager to put a pro-Gothic candidate on the throne on the eve of the Gothic War and "had passed over the entire diaconate as untrustworthy". [1] The Liber Pontificalis alleges that Silverius had purchased his elevation from King Theodahad. [2]

Pope Hormisdas pope

Saint Hormisdas was Pope from 20 July 514 to his death in 523. His papacy was dominated by the Acacian schism, started in 484 by Acacius of Constantinople's efforts to placate the Monophysites. His efforts to resolve this schism were successful, and on 28 March 519, the reunion between Constantinople and Rome was ratified in the cathedral of Constantinople before a large crowd.

Ostrogoths

The Ostrogoths were the eastern branch of the older Goths. The Ostrogoths traced their origins to the Greutungi – a branch of the Goths who had migrated southward from the Baltic Sea and established a kingdom north of the Black Sea, during the 3rd and 4th centuries. They built an empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic. The Ostrogoths were probably literate in the 3rd century, and their trade with the Romans was highly developed. Their Danubian kingdom reached its zenith under King Ermanaric, who is said to have committed suicide at an old age when the Huns attacked his people and subjugated them in about 370.

<i>Liber Pontificalis</i> Book of biographies of popes

The Liber Pontificalis is a book of biographies of popes from Saint Peter until the 15th century. The original publication of the Liber Pontificalis stopped with Pope Adrian II (867–872) or Pope Stephen V (885–891), but it was later supplemented in a different style until Pope Eugene IV (1431–1447) and then Pope Pius II (1458–1464). Although quoted virtually uncritically from the 8th to 18th centuries, the Liber Pontificalis has undergone intense modern scholarly scrutiny. The work of the French priest Louis Duchesne, and of others has highlighted some of the underlying redactional motivations of different sections, though such interests are so disparate and varied as to render improbable one popularizer's claim that it is an "unofficial instrument of pontifical propaganda."

On 9 December 536, the Byzantine general Belisarius entered Rome with the approval of Pope Silverius. Theodahad's successor Witiges gathered together an army and besieged Rome for several months, subjecting the city to privation and starvation. In the words of Richards, "What followed is as tangled a web of treachery and double-dealing as can be found anywhere in the papal annals. Several different versions of the course of events following the elevation of Silverius exist." [3] In outline, all accounts agree: Silverius was deposed by Belisarius in March 538 and sent into exile after being judged by the wife of Belisarius, Antonina, who accused him of conspiring with the Goths. [4] Not only did Belisarius exile Silverius, he also banished a number of distinguished senators, Flavius Maximus—a descendant of a previous emperor—among them. [5] Vigilius, who was in Constantinople as apocrisiarius or papal legate, was brought to Rome to replace Silverius as the pontiff. [6]

Belisarius Byzantine general

Flavius Belisarius was a military commander of the (Byzantine) Eastern Roman Empire. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century before.

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Pope Vigilius pope

Pope Vigilius was Pope from 29 March 537 to his death in 555. He is considered the first pope of the Byzantine Papacy.

The fullest account is in the Breviarium of Liberatus of Carthage, who portrays Vigilius "as a greedy and treacherous pro-Monophysite who ousted and virtually murdered his predecessor." In exchange for being made Pope, Liberatus claims he promised Empress Theodora to restore the former patriarch of Constantinople Anthimus to his position. Silverius was sent into exile at Patara in Lycia, whose bishop petitioned the emperor for a fair trial for Silverius. Rattled by this, Justinian ordered Silverius returned to Rome to be tried accordingly. [7] However, when Silverius returned to Italy, instead of holding a trial Belisarius handed him over to Vigilius, who according to The Liber Pontificalis banished Silverius to the desolate island Palmarola (part of the Pontine Islands), where he starved to death a few months later. [8]

Liberatus of Carthage was an archdeacon and the author of an important history of the Nestorian and Monophysite controversies in the 5th- and 6th-century Christian Church.

Monophysitism is the Christological position that, after the union of the divine and the human in the historical incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single "nature" which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human. Monophysitism is contrasted to dyophysitism which maintains that Christ maintained two natures, one divine and one human, after the incarnation.

Theodora (6th century) Byzantine empress, wife of Justinian I

Theodora was empress of the Eastern Roman Empire by marriage to Emperor Justinian I. She was one of the most influential and powerful of the Eastern Roman empresses, albeit from a humble background. Some sources mention her as empress regnant with Justinian I as her co-regent. Along with her spouse, she is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14.

The account in the Liber Pontificalis is hardly more favorable to Vigilius. That work agrees with Liberatus that the restoration of Anthimus to the Patriarchate was the cause of Silverius' deposition, but Vigilius was initially sent to persuade Silverius to agree to this, not replace him. Silverius refused and Vigilius then claimed to Belisarius that Pope Silverius had written to Witiges offering to betray the city. Belisarius did not believe this accusation, but Vigilius produced false witnesses to testify to this, and through persistence overcame his scruples. Silverius was summoned to the Pincian palace, where he was stripped of his vestments and handed over to Vigilius, who dispatched him into exile. Procopius omits all mention of religious controversy in Vigilius' actions. He writes that Silverius was accused of offering to betray Rome to the Goths. Upon learning of this, Belisarius had him deposed, put in a monk's habit and exiled to Greece. Several other senators were also banished from Rome at the same time on similar charges. Belisarius then appointed Vigilius. [9] Deprived of sufficient sustenance, Silverius starved to death on the island of Palmarola. [10]

Pincian Hill hill in Rome, Italy

The Pincian Hill is a hill in the northeast quadrant of the historical center of Rome. The hill lies to the north of the Quirinal, overlooking the Campus Martius. It was outside the original boundaries of the ancient city of Rome, and was not one of the Seven hills of Rome, but it lies within the wall built by Roman Emperor Aurelian between 270 and 273.

Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent late antique Byzantine Greek scholar from Palaestina Prima. Accompanying the Byzantine general Belisarius in Emperor Justinian's wars, Procopius became the principal Byzantine historian of the 6th century, writing the History of the Wars, the Buildings, and the Secret History. He is commonly classified as the last major historian of the ancient Western world.

Richards attempts to reconcile these divergent accounts into a unified account. He points out that Liberatus wrote his Breviarium at the height of the Three-Chapter Controversy, "when Vigilius was being regarded by his opponents as anti-Christ and Liberatus was prominent among these opponents", and the Liber Pontificalis drew from an account written at the same time. Once these religious elements are removed, Richards argues that it is clear "the whole episode was political in nature." [8] He points out for Justinian's plans to recover Rome and Italy, "that there should be a pro-Eastern pope substituted as soon as possible. The ideal candidate was at hand in Constantinople. The deacon Vigilius' principal motivation throughout his career, as far as can be ascertained, was the desire to be pope and he was not really concerned about which faction put him there." [8]

The Three-Chapter Controversy, a phase in the Chalcedonian controversy, was an attempt to reconcile the Non-Chalcedonian Christians of Syria and Egypt with the Great Church, following the failure of the Henotikon. The Three Chapters that Emperor Justinian I anathematized were:

  1. The person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia
  2. Certain writings of Theodoret of Cyrus
  3. The letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris

Canonization

Silverius was later recognized as a saint by popular acclamation, and is now the patron saint of the island of Ponza, Italy. The first mention of his name in a list of saints dates to the 11th century. [11] He is also called Saint Silverius (San Silverio). While Pope Silverius perished without fanfare and largely unlamented during the 6th century, the people from the neighboring island of Ponza have honored the virtuous St. Silverio, a heritage the reaches from the island to the United States, where many settlers from the island have carried settled in the Morisania section of the Bronx. From there, they celebrate the Festival of San Silverio at Our Lady of Pity Church on 151st Street and Morris Avenue, just as they have for centuries, calling on him for help. [12] After the Church of Our Lady of Pity closed, the statue of San Silverio found a home at St. Ann's Church at 31 College Place, Yonkers, New York. The feast of San Silverio is observed here every year on June 20 with a special Mass and procession of the Statue of San Silverio. The statue is on permanent display for veneration by the faithful. According to Ponza Islands legend, fishermen were in a small boat in a storm off Palmarola and they called on Saint Silverius for help. An apparition of Saint Silverius called them to Palmarola, where they survived. This miracle made him venerated as a saint.

See also

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Palmarola island

Palmarola is a craggy, mostly uninhabited island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the west coast of Italy. It is the second largest of the Pontine Islands and located about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) west from Ponza.

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References

Citations

Bibliography

Literature

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Agapetus I
Pope
536537
Succeeded by
Vigilius