Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 574
The Liber Pontificalis (written in Rome, AD 537/546) describes how King Theodatus (Theodahad) cowed the Roman clergy into electing Pope Silverius (AD 536-537) and how the imperial troops massacred the citizens of Naples, including the clergy.
60. Silverius.
[...] Qui Theodatus, corruptus pecuniae datum, talem timorem indixit clero ut qui non consentiret in huius ordinationem gladio puniretur. Quod quidem sacerdotes non subscripserunt in eum secundum morem anticum vel decretum confirmaverunt ante ordinationem; iam ordinato sub vim et metum, propter adunationem ecclesiae et religionis, postmodum iam ordinato Silverio sic subscripserunt presbiteri.
[…] Eodem tempore pugnando patiricius contra civitatem introivit; et ductus furore interfecit et Gothos et omnes cives Neapolitanos et misit praedam ut nec in ecclesiis parceret praedando; itaque et uxores praesentes maritos earum gladio interficeret, et captivos filios et uxores nobilium exterminaret, nullius parcentibus, nec sacerdotibus nec servi Dei nec virgnibus sanctimonialibus.
(ed. Duchesne 1886: 290)
60. Silverius.
[...] Theodahad, corrupted by money given to him, announced to the clergy such a terrible decision that if someone did not consent to his [Silverius'] ordination, he would be punished with the sword. Therefore the priests did not subscribe to him according to the ancient custom and did not confirm the decree before the ordination. However, when he was already ordained by force and fear, the presbyters subscribed to him for the sake of the unity of the Church and religion.
 […] At that time the patrician [Belisarius] fought against Naples and entered it. Driven by fury, he killed the Goths and all the citizens of the city, and allowed the sack, so that there was no shelter even in the churches. He killed with the sword the husbands in the presence of their wives, and he exterminated the captured sons and wives of the noblemen, and he spared no one, not even the priests, nor the servants of God, nor the holy virgins.
(trans. S. Adamiak)

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Rome
  • Naples

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 - Election of Church authorities
        Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
          Conflict - Violence
            Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER574,