Pope Saint Silverius was Pope from June 8, 536 until March 537.
He was a legitimate son of Pope Hormisdas, born before his father entered the priesthood. He was probably consecrated on June 8, 536. He may have been married to a woman called Antonia before receiving holy orders, however this remains debated by historians.
He opposed the restoration of the monophysite heretic, former patriarch of Constantinople Anthimus, whom Agapetus had deposed, and thus brought upon himself the hatred of Empress Theodora. Theodora then sought to have Vigilius made pope. During Silverius' papacy, it was alleged that he had purchased his elevation to the see of St. Peter from King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths.
On December 9, 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. It was alleged that Pope Silverius wrote to Witiges offering to betray the city.
He was deposed accordingly by Belisarius in March 537 on a charge of treasonable correspondence with the Goths, and degraded to the rank of a simple monk. Vigilius became his successor as Pope. Silverius found his way to Constantinople, and Justinian I, who entertained his complaint, sent him back to Rome, but Vigilius was eventually able to banish his rival to the prison island Pandataria (Ventotene), where the rest of his life was spent in obscurity. The date of his death is unknown.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope St. Silverius was exiled not to Ventotene, but rather to Palmarola, where he died a couple of months later, on June 20, 537.
Pope Silverius was later beatified and was recognized as a saint, and is now the patron saint of the island of Ponza, Italy.
He is also called Saint Silverius (San Silverio). 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 Siverius called them to Palmarola where they survived. This miracle made him venerated as a saint.
According to the "New Catholic Encyclopedia" (1966), the dates of Pope Silverius' pontificate are in doubt: "June 1 or 8, 536, to c. November 11, 537; d. Palmaria, probably December 2, 537." Likewise, he was never beatified or canonized, but simply acclaimed a saint by the people. The first mention of his name in a list of saints is in the 11th century.
- "Pope St. Silverius". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Incorporating text from the 9th edition (1887) of an unnamed encyclopedia.
- Louise Ropes Loomis, The Book of Popes ("Liber Pontificalis"). Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. ISBN 1-889758-86-8 (Reprint of the 1916 edition. English translation with scholarly footnotes, and illustrations).
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