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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. 126-127.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 536-537.

SYLVERIUS, a Campanian, son of Bishop Hormisda, was chosen Bishop of Rome at the command of Theodatus, though till this time the emperors only, not the kings, had interposed their authority in that matter. But the menaces of Theodatus prevailed, who had threatened to put to death every man of the clergy who would not subscribe his name to the choice of Sylverius.

For this reason, and that he might also revenge the death of Amalasuntha, Justinian sends Belisarius, a patrician, with an army into Italy. In his passage thither he first put in at Sicily, and brought that island to the emperor’s devotion. In the meantime Theodatus dying, and the Goths having chosen themselves a king against the will of Justinian, Belisarius quits Sicily that he might deliver Italy from the tyranny of the Goths. Coming into Campania, and the city of Naples refusing to obey the emperor’s summons, he took it by storm and plundered it, putting to the sword all the Goths that were in garrison there, and a great part of the citizens, carrying away their children and what other spoil they could lay their hands on. The soldiers pillaged the very churches, violated the chastity of cloistered virgins, and committed all the outrages which are wont to be acted by an enraged victorious enemy. Marching hastily from thence with his army to Rome, and entering the city by night, he struck such a terror into the Goths who defended it, that they all left the gates and the walls and fled to Ravenna. But Belisarius apprehending that Vitiges might surprise him with a mighty force, which he should not be able to fight in open field, with all possible despatch fortified the city with trenches and bulwarks where occasion was for them. Soon after Vitiges, according to his expectation, coming towards him with a 127 mighty army, for it consisted of a hundred thousand men, Belisarius, who had not above five thousand, thought it best to keep within the city. Vitiges encamped between two aqueducts, the one of which ran towards the Via Latina, the other towards the Via Prænestina, and both met five miles from the city. And that the city might not be supplied with water, he cut off all the conduits and conveyances, which were fourteen. Moreover, he sent part of his army who possessed themselves of the port, and thereby reduced the Romans to the double calamity of war and famine.

In the meantime, at the motion of Vigilius, a deacon and surrogate of Rome, the Empress Theodora laid her commands, joined with threatening, upon Sylverius, to banish Menas from Constantinople, and to restore Anthemius, who, as we have said, had been deposed for patronising the Eutychian heresy. Which, when he refused to do, she writes to Belisarius, ordering him to depose Sylverius, and to put Vigilius into his place. But Belisarius being wholly taken up with the defence of the city, left that affair to the management of his wife, Antonina, who, upon the depositions of certain witnesses suborned by Vigilius, attesting that Sylverius had a design to betray the city into the hands of the Goths, not only compelled him to quit the pontificate and to enter into a monastic life, but also banished him to the Island Pandataria, where he died, not without the reputation of having been a very holy man. It is said that at this time the Gauls despatched messengers to Benedict, desiring him to send to them any one of his disciples to instruct them in the rules of the monastic life. Upon which Benedict sent Maurus, who, by his own example, instructed them in a good and happy course of living, and also set up several monasteries among them. Vigilius, at the desire of the Roman clergy, in pursuance of Antonina’s determination, was created Bishop of Rome. Sylverius, after his possession of the chair one year, five months, and twelve days, died, as we have already said, in Pandataria, and was buried June the 20th.1 Upon his death the see was vacant six days.


 1  There was a strong suspicion that he was murdered. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  59. Agapetus I. 6. Sylverius. Next Pope: 10. Vigilius I.

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