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Article: June 20 + Saint Pope Silverius

June 20 + Saint Pope Silverius - VENXARA®

June 20 + Saint Pope Silverius

Silverius was described as a humble man, a “lamb among wolves” caught in the middle of political ploys and falsely accused of treason. When we find ourselves the victims of false accusations, may we, like Silverius, put our trust in the Lord and say: “When evildoers assail me, uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall.” (Psalm 27:2).

Silverius was a subdeacon, when, on the death of St. Pope Agapetus, he was named pope by King Theodehad of Italy. By the time he was consecrated, he had been formally accepted by the Roman clergy.

Silverius soon incurred the wrath of the Empress Theodora when he refused to accept the heretical monophysites Anthimus of Constantinople and Severus of Antioch who had already been excommunicated by the previous pope. (The monophysites denied the human nature of Christ.) Silverius knew what it meant to oppose the strong-willed empress and is said to have remarked that by signing the letter of refusal to her request, he was also signing his own death warrant.

In an attempt to save Rome from further destruction by the General Vitiges, Silverius invited the Byzantine commander Belisaurus into the city. Unfortunately, Belisaurus’ wife Antonina was as much a scheming woman as Theodora, and in order to gain the Empress’s favor, Antonina urged Belisaurus to remove Silverius on the false accusation that he had conspired with the Goths. Silverius was kidnapped and the Archdeacon Vigilius (Theodora’s favorite), was wrongly named the new pope.

When the Emperor Justinian received a message from the bishop of Patara telling him what had happened, he immediately gave orders that Silverius be returned to Rome and reinstated in the Holy See. But soon after his return to Italy, Silverius was captured by Vigilius’s supporters and imprisoned on the island of Palmaria. He did not survive long in prison and was either murdered by one of Antonina’s hired assassins or was left to die of starvation. The year was 537 and Silverius had served less than two years in office.

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