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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. 120-122.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 523-526.

JOHN, by birth a Tuscan, son of Constantius, was in the chair from the consulship of Maximus to that of Olybrius, in the time of King Theodoric and the Emperor Justin, who, out of his great zeal for the orthodox faith, and that he might utterly extinguish the name of heretics, banished the Arians, and gave their churches to the Catholics. This was so highly resented by Theodoric, that he sends John himself with Theodorus and the two Agapeti, his ambassadors to Justin, to advise him to restore the Arians, or upon his refusal to let him know that he would pull down all the Catholic churches in Italy. These ambassadors were at first very kindly and honourably received. But having given an 121 account of their embassy, and finding Justin wholly averse to grant what they desired, they betook themselves to tears and prayers, humbly beseeching him to prevent the ruin of Italy and all the orthodox Christians in it; by which means the good prince was prevailed upon to recall the Arians, and to grant them toleration. Some write that it was in this bishop’s time that Symmachus and Boethius were brought back from exile, imprisoned, and slain by the cruelty and rage of Theodoric. However, certain it is that they were put to death by Theodoric’s order; and it matters not much whether it were in the pontificate of Hormisda or John. Which John, returning from Constantinople, Theodoric was so highly incensed against him for his agreement with the Emperor Justin both in faith and manners, that it was a chance that he had not taken away his life immediately; but throw him into prison he did at Ravenna, where, through stench and nastiness and want of necessary provision, the good man at length died — a cruelty for which the Divine vengeance sorely punished Theodoric not long after, for he died suddenly of a fit of an apoplexy, and his soul (if you will take the word of a devout hermit who reported it) was cast into the flames of the Island Lipara.

Theodoric was succeeded in the kingdom by his daughter, Amalasuntha, with her son, Athalaric, whom she had by her husband, Eucherius; a woman who with a prudence above her sex, rectified her father’s ill decrees, restored the confiscated estates of Boethius and Symmachus to their children, and caused her son to be instructed in all kinds of good literature, though she were herein opposed by the Goths, who cried out that their king was not to be bred a scholar but a soldier. Much about this time died Justin, being very aged, leaving the empire to his sister’s son, Justinian; and Clodoveus, king of France, leaving four sons his successors in that kingdom. Persons of note and esteem at this time were Benedict of Nursia, who settled among the Italians the rules and canons of the monastic life; and Bridget, a devout virgin of Scotland, and John, presbyter of Antioch, who wrote much against those that held that Christ should be worshipped in one nature only. To these Isidore adds one Cyprignius, a Spanish bishop, who wrote elegantly upon the Apocalypse.

Our John, before he went to Constantinople, had repaired three cemeteries — namely, that of Nereus and Achilleus in 122 the Via Ardeatina, that of the martyrs St Felix and St Adauctus, and that of Priscilla. He also adorned the altar of St Peter’s with gold and jewels. He likewise brought with him from Constantinople, a paten of gold, and a chalice of gold set with precious stones, the presents of the Emperor Justin; but these I suppose to have been lost together with his life. At several ordinations he consecrated fifteen bishops. It is said that his body was brought from Ravenna to Rome, and buried in St Peter’s Church, July the 27th, Olybrius being then consul. He sat in the chair two years, eight months; and by his death the see was vacant fifty-eight days.

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Previous Pope:  54. Hormisda I. 55. John I. Next Pope: 56. Felix IV.

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