June 20, 2021

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20 June
Father’s Day

Fathering a child is one thing. Being a real father is another matter. Some of our fathers are no longer with us. May they rest in peace. Some fathers do not still have all of their children with them. May they all be reunited in heaven.

There are great fathers who accomplish a great deal, whose children are the envy of their friends. There are great fathers who accomplish relatively little but are great because of their love and their willingness to suffer.

One such great father of the latter variety was Pope St. Silverius. Today, June 20, is his feast day. You could say that had a good role model. His father was Pope St. Hormisdas, who had been married and possibly left a widower before being ordained. Before becoming Pope, St. Silverius was a sub-deacon, which is not the usual resume for a Bishop of Rome. When his predecessor Pope St. Agapitus died on 22 April 536, the papacy was caught between the power struggle which pitted the Empress of Constantinople Theodora, who was a staunch proponent of the Monophysite heresy, and Theodatus, King of the Ostrogoths. Theodatus probably did not care about heresy or orthodoxy. The Ostrogothic Kings exerted an influence on church even if they did not meddle in theology. Theodatus did not want his civil rival to the North to have an ally South of him in Rome. Empress Theodora’s candidate for Pope, who had promised to promote her favorite heresy, was a deacon by the name of Vigilius. Theodora, undeterred, resolved to overthrow Silverius and to gain the papal see for Vigilius.

The Gothic War between the Eastern Roman Empire (Constantinopolitans) and the Kingdom of Italy (Ostrogoths) had begun in 535. By means of a letter forged by Belisariu the Byzantine general, Pope Silverius was accused of a treasonable agreement with the Gothic king who was besieging Rome. Silverius was arrested in March, 537, roughly stripped of his episcopal dress, given the clothing of a monk and carried off to exile, where he died even though he had convinced Theodora’s husband Emperor Justinian I that there was sufficient evidence that he could very well have been innocent. Vigilius became pope but he never canonized the Monophysite heresy... because that would be impossible. Pray for him. He was not a good Pope.

Pope St. Silverius, pray for us!

Pope St. Hormisdas, father of Pope St. Silverius, pray for us!

Thank you, Lord, for our good fathers. God bless you!

Christopher J. Pollard