Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 572
The Liber Pontificalis (written in Rome, 532/546 AD) describes how Pope Boniface II (530-532) made the clergy of Rome swear that they would elect the deacon Vigilius as his successor; subsequently, however, he was forced to withdraw.
57. Bonifatius [II]
Ipsius diebus Bonifatius, zelo et dolo ductus, cum grande amaritudine sub vinculo anathematis cyrographi reconciliavit clero; quem cyrographum arcivo ecclesiae retrudit, quasi damnans Dioscorum; et congregavit clerum. Cui tamen in episcopatum nullus subscripsit, dum plurima multitudo fuisset cum Dioscoro. Hic presbiteris et diaconibus et subdiaconibus et notariis scutellas de adeptis hereditatibus optulit et alimoniis multis in periculo famis clero subvenit. Hic congregavit synodum in basilica beati Petri apostoli et fecit constitutum ut sibi successorem ordinaret. Quod constitutum cum cyrographis sacerdotum et iusiurandum ante confessionem beati apostoli Petri in diaconum Vigilium constituit. Eodem tempore, factum iterum synodum, hoc censuerunt sacerdotes omnes propter reverentiam sedis sanctae et quia contra canones fuerat hoc factum et quia culpa eum respiciebat ut successorem sibi consitueret; ipse Bonifatius papa reum se confessus est maiestatis, quod in diaconum Vigilium sua subscriptione cyrographi; ante confessionem beati apostoli Petri ipsum constitutum praesentia omnium sacerdotum et cleri et senatus incendio consumpsit.
(ed. Duchesne 1886: 281)
57. Boniface [II]
In those days Boniface, driven by envy and deceit, reconciled the clergy with great bitterness, by a chirograph, under the bond of anathema. He threw this chirograph into the archive of the church, as if condemning Dioscurus; and he gathered the clergy. But no bishop signed it, since the great majority was with Dioscurus. He gave to the presbyters and deacons and subdeacons and notaries vessels from what he had inherited, and he helped with alms many of the clergy who were in danger of famine. He gathered the council in the basilica of Blessed Peter the Apostle and made it so that he could ordain his successor. After the priests signed it and made an oath before the confession of the blessed Apostle Peter, he established the deacon Vigilius. At that time, after another council, all the priests decided, out of reverence for the Holy See and because it had been done against the canons, that his fault was clear in establishing a successor to himself. Boniface himself confessed his guilt, that he had put his signature to the chirograph in his favour. And so he burnt this document in front of the confession of the blessed Apostle Peter in the presence of all the priests and clergy and the senate.
(trans. S. Adamiak)

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Rome

About the source:

Title: Liber Pontificalis, The Book of Pontiffs, Gesta Pontificum Romanorum
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Liber Pontificalis is a major source for the history of the papacy in the first millenium. It is a collection of the lives of popes, starting from St Peter and kept going through to 870. Liber Pontificalis is prefaced by two apocryphical letters of Pope Damasus and Jerome, but it cannot be dated to that period. Although Mommsen tended to put the date of the actual compilation as late as the seventh century, nowadays Duchesne`s view is generally accepted that there were two editions made in the 530s-540s. The first, presumably completed soon after 530, has not survived as such, though we have two epitomes made from it (known as “Felician” and “Cononian” from the names of the popes at which they end). Duchesne tried to reconstruct it in his edition, but we follow the second edition presented by him, which was completed by the siege of Rome in 546. The work was then left aside for some time, and taken up again probably under Honorius (625-638) or shortly afterwards; hence the additions were written shortly after each pontiff`s death.
Liber starts to provide some more reliable information with the times of Pope Leo I (440-461), and becomes very well informed with the end of the fifth century. The lives of earlier popes cannot be considered as a valid source of information about their lifetime. However, those notices are a precious source for the sixth century: we learn what was considered an old tradition at the time, and how the past of the Roman church was being seen and constructed then. It is especially important when we deal with the liturgy.
 L. Duchesne ed., Le `Liber Pontificalis`, vol. 1., Paris 1886.
 T. Mommsen ed., Liber Pontificalis pars prior, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Gesta Pontificum Romanorum 1, Berlin 1898.
 The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis). The ancient biographies of the first ninety Roman bishops to AD 715, revised edition, translated with an introduction by R. Davis, Liverpool 2000.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
      Ecclesiastical administration - Participation in councils and ecclesiastical courts
        Ecclesiastical administration - Election of Church authorities
            Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
              Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
                Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER572,