Pope Silverius was the son of the 52nd Pope,Hormisdas. You’d think the son of a former Pope would have it made,but the poor guy never stood a chance. Surrounded and undermined by weasels at every turn,his Papacy would last little more than a year. Italian Goth King Theodahad had instigated a war with Constantinople,and the previous Pope,Agapetus,couldn’t talk both sides down. He did manage to unseat the heretical patriarch of the Eastern Church though,and this is where poor Pope Silverius’ fate would be sealed. The Empress of Constantinople wanted the disposed patriarch back in charge and plotted with Roman deacon Vigilius to help her cause. Vigilius wanted nothing more than to be Pope,and he nearly had it in his grasp years earlier,only to have the title snatched away at the last second. He promised the Empress that should she get rid of Silverius and make him the new Pope,he would place her favored patriarch back in charge. Like I said. Weasel. Oh,and he was lying to her by the way.
The two armies soon occupied Rome and news spread throughout the lands that Pope Silverius had conspired with the Goth King and that he had handed over Rome. Peace was only a Pope Vigilus away it was told. Silverius was arrested on these false charges and forced to abdicate. Exiled to a monastery,he got word out,and pleaded his case to Constantinople Emperor Justinian. The Emperor ordered that Silverius should be brought back to Rome to defend himself against these charges. Silverius never made it back to Rome as he was intercepted by hired goons of deacon Vigilus….wait,make that Pope Vigilus. Weasel. Weeks later the body of Pope Silverius was found on the island of Palmaria.
Hundreds of years later,fishermen lost in a storm off the same island where Silverius lost his life,claimed that his spirit guided them to safety,and for this miracle he was venerated a Saint. His feast day is celebrated on June 20th. Oh and Pope Vigilus? Yeah,Pope Vigilius doesn’t have a feast day because Pope Vigilius sucks….
Pope Saint Agapetus was elected to the Papacy just days after the death of Pope John II. Agapetus was from a wealthy and prominent Roman family and was one of the most highly educated men to hold the office. One of his first acts as Pontiff was to create a library that featured Latin translations of works from Greek writers like Homer and Aristotle. His time in office was very short and was mostly consumed by keeping Italy from being invaded by Constantinople. Italian Queen Amalasuntha was murdered by her cousin Theodahad,who quickly assumed the throne. This in turn infuriated Eastern emperor Justin I who favored the now deceased Queen. A massive army was dispatched with Rome in their sights. King Theodahad wanted no part of this and begged the Pope to travel east and talk Justin down. Pope Agapetus wanted no part of this either and agreed to try to talk some sense into the angry Emperor. First he needed money for the journey and he actually pawned off some property of St.Peter’s for the ummm….gas money to make the long trip. Unfortunately,this would all turn out to be a waste of time because Justin could not be persuaded.
The trip was a success in a different way though,because while there,the Pope took offense at the leader of the Eastern Church,a heretical Monophysite named Anthimus. A Monophysite was a person who believed Jesus was ONLY of divine nature,which really misses the whole point of the whole deal. The Pope told Justin that if he wouldn’t call off his troops,he could at least throw out the heretic that was running his Churches. Justin instead threatened the Pope with banishment or worse. Pope Agapetus replied “With eager longing have I come to gaze upon the Most Christian Emperor Justinian. In his place I find a Diocletian, whose threats, however, terrify me not”. A Diocletian,by the way,refers to a past Roman Emperor that persecuted Christians. The fearless Pope stared down the barrel of torture and death and didn’t blink and Justin,with his Christianity challenged,was then persuaded that the heretic named Anthimus had to go. For this reason,Agapetus is not only celebrated as a Saint in the Roman Church,he is also recognized as a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The two sister Churches may not agree on a lot of things,but they both know a Holy man when they see one. Our Poor Pope,however,had worked himself to the point of extreme exhaustion,and passed away suddenly as Emperor Justin’s troops marched to Rome. Pope Agapetus’ feast day is celebrated on September 20th and he is buried in St.Peter’s basilica.
Yes,I know,I drew the Pope wearing the helmet of the Roman pagan god Mercury. Blasphemy you say! Well,I have an explanation. Pope John II was born with the name Mercurius,and as the leader of Christianity and also of all things opposed to paganism,he thought it might be a bit tacky to keep his birth name. This decision set the tone for most all Popes for the next 1500 years as it became customary for newly elected Pontiffs to trade their foreign sounding names for more traditional ones. The Pope chooses his new name himself and it is usually that of a former Pope whom he personally admires. Actually it doesn’t even have to be the name of a former Pope. Our current Pope was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio and he chose the name of Francis because of the Saint’s reputation as a both a reformer and advocate for the poor. Albino Luciani combined the names of the two Popes that proceeded him,John XXIII and Paul VI,and he became John Paul I. This was a way of telling the world he intended to carry on with the work that those two men started. Not all Popes since John II took on a new name,Marcellus II in 1555 was the last to keep his birth name,but for the last 500 years the name change is a given and it all comes back to Pope Mercury……I mean John II. C’mon,don’t tell me you don’t think Pope Mercury isn’t an awesome sounding name.
Pope Boniface II may be the only Anti-Pope that is officially a Pope. The previous Pope,Felix IV,was on his deathbed when he chose Boniface II to replace him as Pope. This is a major violation of the rules of electing a new Pope. Felix IV himself was appointed and not elected so I guess he thought this was just par for the course now. The Pope is supposed to be voted on and elected by the clergy,and the clergy promptly ignored Boniface II and got to work on electing a man named Dioscorus as their new “official” Pontiff. The dueling Popes were consecrated on the same day and the Church seemed destined for conflict,but poor Dioscorus only lived for about 20 days. Boniface II was now the official Pope and the clergy grudgingly accepted him. He did try to appoint his own successor,having not learned anything,and he was promptly shouted down. Rome would only have to put up with him for two years before he passes away from natual causes. Boniface’s only contribution,which is pretty major in the long term,is his changing the years in the Julian calendar from Ab Urbe Condita to Anno Domini. Anno Domini is the numbering we use now,but during the time of Pope Boniface II,it would still be about 300 more years before the rest of the world got on board with the new Christ-centered numbering system……..so Boniface probably only succeeded in just confusing the Hell out of everyone.