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SILVERIUS was son of Pope Hermisdas, who had been married before he entered the ministry. Upon the death of St. Agapetas, after a vacancy of forty-seven days, Silverius, then subdeacon, was chosen Pope, and ordained on the 8th of June, 536.
Theodora, the empress of Justinian, resolved to promote the sect of the Acephali. She endeavored to win Silverius over to her interest, and wrote to him, ordering that he should acknowledge Anthimus lawful bishop, or repair in person to Constantinople and reëxamine his cause on the spot. Without the least hesitation or delay, Silverius returned her a short answer, by which he peremptorily gave her to understand that he neither could nor would obey her unjust demands and betray the cause of the Catholic faith. The empress, finding that she could expect nothing from him, resolved to have him deposed. Vigilius, archdeacon of the Roman Church, a man of address, was then at Constantinople. To him the empress made her application, and finding him taken by the bait of ambition, promised to make him Pope, and to
184 Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
bestow on him seven hundred pieces of gold, provided he would engage himself to condemn the Council of Chalcedon and receive to Communion the three deposed Eutychian patriarchs, Anthimus of Constantinople, Severus of Antioch, and Theodosius of Alexandria. The unhappy Vigilius having assented to these conditions, the empress sent him to Rome, charged with a letter to the general Belisarius, commanding him to drive out Silverius and to contrive the election of Vigilius to the pontificate. Vigilius urged the general to execute the project. The more easily to carry out this project the Pope was accused of corresponding with the enemy and a letter was produced which was pretended to have been written by him to the king of the Goths, inviting him into the city, and promising to open the gates to him. Silverius was banished to Patara in Lycia. The bishop of that city received the illustrious exile with all possible marks of honor and respect; and thinking himself bound to undertake his defense, repaired to Constantinople, and spoke boldly to the emperor, terrifying him with the threats of the divine judgments for the expulsion of a bishop of so great a see, telling him, "There are many kings in the world, but there is only one Pope over the Church of the whole world." It must be observed that these were the words of an Oriental bishop, and a clear confession of the supremacy of the Roman See. Justinian appeared startled at the atrocity of the proceedings, and gave orders that Silverius should be sent back to Rome, but the enemies of the Pope contrived to prevent it, and he was intercepted on his road toward Rome and carried to a desert island, where he died on the 20th of June, 538.'
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
If thou lovest Me, Simon Peter, feed My lambs, feed My sheep. Ps. 29, 1. I will extol Thee, O lord, for Thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me. Gory be …
O eternal Shepherd, do Thou look favorably upon Thy flock, which we beseech Thee to guard and keep for evermore through the blessed Silverius Thy Martyr and Supreme Pontiff, who Thou didst choose to be the chief shepherd of the whole Church,
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Peter the Apostle.
[He exhorts both priests and laity to their respective duties and recommends to all humility and watchfulness.]
Brethren: The ancients therefore that are among you, I beseech, who am myself also an ancient, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ: as also a partaker of that glory which is to be revealed in time to come: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking care of it, not by constraint, but willingly, according to God: not for filthy lucre' s sake, but voluntarily: Neither as lording it over the clergy, but being made a pattern of the flock from the heart. And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory. But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you. To him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.
Let them exalt him in the Church of the people: and praise him in the chair of the ancients. Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and the wonderful works to the children of men.
Alleluia, alleluia. Matth. 16, 18. Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church. Alleluia.
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[Christ refuses to shew the Pharisees a sign from heaven. Peter's confession is rewarded. He is rebuked for opposing Christ's passion. All his followers must deny themselves.]
At that time, And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
Behold I have given My words in thy mouth: lo, I have set thee this day over the kingdoms, to waste and to destroy, and to build and to plant. (P. T. Alluluia.)
In Thy loving kindness, we beseech Thee, O Lord, be moved by the offering of our gifts and enlighten Thy Church: that Thy flock may prosper everywhere and the shepherds, under Thy guidance, may be rendered acceptable to thee. Through our Lord.
Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church. (P.T. Alleluia.)
Since Thy Church has been nourished by the sacred repast, govern her in Thy clemency, we beseech Thee, O Lord, so that under the guidance of Thy mighty rule she may enjoy greater freedom and abiding integrity of religion. Through our Lord.