[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]

From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 79-82.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

—————0 —————


A.D. 352-366.

LIBERIUS, a Roman, the son of Augustus, lived in the times of Constantius and Constans.

For Constantine, as I said before, engaging unadvisedly in a war against his brother Constans, was therein slain. And Constans himself, having fought with various success against the Persians, being forced by a tumult in the army to join battle at midnight, was at last routed, and designing afterwards to make an example of his seditious soldiers, was by the fraud and treachery of Magnentius slain at a town called Helena, in the seventeenth year of his reign, and the thirtieth of his age.

Constans being dead, the old firebrands of the Arian heresy began afresh to make head against Athanasius. For in a council held at Milan, all those that favoured Athanasius were banished. Moreover, at the council of Ariminum, because the subtle, crafty eastern prelates were too hard at argument and disputations for the honest well-meaning bishops of the west, it was thought good to let fall the debate for a 80 time; the Orientalist denied Christ to be of the same substance with the Father. This because Bishop Liberius did at first oppose, and because he refused to condemn Athanasius at the Emperor’s command, he was banished by the Arians, and forced to absent from the city for the space of three years. In which time the clergy, being assembled in a synod, in the place of Liberius made choice of Felix, a presbyter, an excellent person, and who, immediately after his choice, did in a convention of forty-eight bishops excommunicate Ursatius and Valens, two presbyters, for being of the Emperor’s opinion in religion.1 Hereupon, at their request and importunity, Constans recalls Liberius from exile: who being wrought upon by the kindness of the Emperor, though he became, as some tell us, in all other things heretical, yet in this particular tenet was on the orthodox side, that heretics returning to the Church ought not to be rebaptized. It is said that Liberius did for some time live in the cemetery of St Agnes with Constantia, the Emperor’s sister, that so through her assistance and intercession he might procure a safe return to the city; but she being a Catholic, and apprehending he might have some ill design, utterly refused to engage in it. At length Constantius, at the instance of Ursatius and Valens, deposed Felix, and restored Liberius. Upon which there arose so fierce a persecution, that the presbyters and other clergy were in many places murdered in their very churches. Some tell us that they were the Roman ladies at a circus show, who by their entreaties obtained of the Emperor this restoration of Liberius, who, though he were of the Arian opinion, yet was very diligent in beautifying consecrated places, and particularly the cemetery of St Agnes, and the church which he built and called by his own name, near the market-place of Livia. During these calamitous times lived Eusebius, Bishop 81 of Emissa., who wrote very learnedly and elegantly against the Jews, Gentiles, and Novatians. Triphyllius, also bishop of Ledra or Leutheon, in Cyprus, wrote a large and exact commentary upon the Canticles. Moreover, Donatus an African (from which the sect of the Donatists are denominated) was so industrious in writing against the Catholic doctrine, that he infected almost all Africa and Judæa with his false opinions. He affirmed the Son to be inferior to the Father, and the Holy Spirit inferior to the Son, and rebaptized all those whom he could pervert to his own sect. Several of his heretical writings were extant in the time of St Hierom, and particularly one book on the Holy Spirit, agreeing exactly with the Arian doctrine. And that the Arians might neglect no ill arts of promoting their opinions, Asterius, a philosopher of that faction, at the command of Constantine, compiled diverse commentaries upon the Epistle to the Romans, the gospels, and the psalms, which were diligently read by those of that party to confirm them in their persuasion. Moreover, Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari, together with Pancratius the presbyter, and Hilarius the deacon, were sent in an embassy from the bishop to the emperor; and being by him banished for refusing to renounce the Nicene, under the name of the Athanasian faith, he wrote a book against Constantius, and sent it to him to read. But, notwithstanding this provocation, he lived till the time of Valentinian. It is said also, that Fortunatus, Bishop of Aquileia, had been tampering with Liberius just before his banishment, and endeavouring to bring him over to the Arian heresy. Serapion likewise, who for his great parts had deservedly given him the surname of Scholasticus, compiled an excellent book against Manichæus, nor could all the menaces of the emperor make him desist from the open confession of the truth; but on the contrary, hoping to have rendered Constantius more favourable to Athanasius the Great (so called from the constant and unwearied opposition which he always kept up against pagans and heretics), into his presence he boldly goes, nor did the threats of so great a prince cause him to stir one step backward from his constancy and resolution. As for Liberius, having at two ordinations, held in the city of Rome, made eighteen presbyters, five deacons, nineteen bishops, he died and was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla, in the Via 82 Salaria, April the 23rd. He sat in the chair fifteen years, three months, four days; and by his death the see was vacant six days.


 1  All this portion of the history is more than doubtful. By Milner, as well as by Milman and Robertson, Felix II., who was placed in the see in place of Liberius, is reckoned as an anti-pope. Athanasius calls him a monster and a minister of Antichrist. He is said by Milman to have been elected by three eunuchs, who styled themselves “the people of Rome.” Some ancient authorities, while condemning his usurpation, declare, as Platina does, that he adhered to the Nicene creed; others, that he was an Arian. The cause of the recall of Liberius is very differently given by other authors, viz., that while on one hand, all except the Arians refused to attend the communion of Felix; on the other, Liberius made concessions which the emperor accepted. — See Robertson’s “Church History,” i. 227; and Milman, i. 62. — ED.

——————————0 ——————————

Previous Pope:  36. Julius I. 37. Liberius I. Next Pope: 38. Felix II.

——————————0 ——————————

[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]