Pope Vigilius

Pope Vigilius (d. 7 June 555)[1] was Pope from 29 March 537 to his death in 555.[2] He is considered the first pope of the Byzantine Papacy.


Papacy began29 March 537
Papacy ended7 June 555
SuccessorPelagius I
Personal details
Birth nameVigilius
BornRome, Ostrogothic Kingdom
Died7 June 555 (aged 55)
Syracuse, Sicily, Eastern Roman Empire

Early life

He belonged to an aristocratic Roman family; his father Johannes is identified as a consul in the Liber pontificalis, having received that title from the emperor.[3] According to Procopius, his brother Reparatus was one of the senators taken hostage by Witigis, but managed to escape before the Ostrogothic king ordered their slaughter in 537.[4]

Vigilius entered the service of the Catholic Church and was ordained a deacon in 531, in which year the Roman clergy agreed to a decree empowering the pope to determine the succession to the Papal See (something theologians now consider invalid).[5] Vigilius was chosen by Pope Boniface II as his successor and presented to the clergy assembled in St. Peter's Basilica. The opposition to such a procedure led Boniface in the following year to withdraw his designation of a successor and to burn the decree respecting it.


The second successor of Boniface, Pope Agapetus I (535–536), appointed Vigilius papal representative (apocrisiary) at Constantinople. Empress Theodora sought to win him as a confederate to revenge the deposition of the Monophysite Patriarch Anthimus I of Constantinople by Agapetus and also to gain aid for her efforts in behalf of the Monophysites.[6] Vigilius is said to have agreed to the plans of the intriguing empress who promised him the Papal See and a large sum of money (700 pounds of gold).

Selection as pope

While Vigilius was in Constantinople, Pope Agapetus died on 22 April 536, and Pope Silverius had been made pope through the influence of the King of the Goths. Soon after Silverius was ordained, the Byzantine general Belisarius occupied Rome, which was then besieged by the Goths. Although the Goths were unable to encircle the city completely, both the Byzantine soldiers and the inhabitants feared they would be destroyed. Soon after the siege began, for example, Belisarius ordered the women, children, and unnecessary servants of Rome to leave for Naples, as well as his own army's camp followers.[7] Around the same time, Silverius was accused of offering to betray Rome to the Goths. Belisarius had him deposed, put in a monk's habit and exiled to Greece. Several other senators were also banished from Rome on the same charges.[8]

What part Vigilius played in the deposition of Silverius is unclear in the primary sources. The authors of the Liber Pontificalis, who are hostile to Vigilius, state he delivered to Belisarius the imperial orders to depose Silverius, yet are circumspect about how Silverius was elected and ordained.[9] Procopius, on the other hand, states that Belisarius appointed Vigilius shortly after Silverius was deposed.[8] It is certain that Vigilius was consecrated and enthroned Pope on 29 March 537. After the death of his predecessor Vigilius was recognized as pope by all the Roman clergy, even though the manner of his elevation was not regular.

Papacy (537–555)

Empress Theodora soon learned that she had been deceived. After Vigilius had attained the object of his ambition and been made pope, he maintained the same position as his predecessor against the Monophysites and the deposed Anthimus. A letter purported to be from the pope to the deposed Monophysite patriarchs Anthimus, Severus, and Theodosius seems to indicate that Pope Vigilius accepted the Monophysitism. This letter, however, is not regarded as genuine by most investigators and bears all the marks of forgery.[10] The pope did not restore Anthimus to his office.

Papa Virgilio 1678
Pope Vigilius

In the year 540 Vigilius took a stand in regard to Monophysitism, in two letters sent to Constantinople. One of the letters is addressed to Emperor Justinian, the other to the Patriarch Menas. In both letters the pope supports positively the Synods of Ephesus and Chalcedon, the decisions of his predecessor Pope Leo I, and the deposition of the Patriarch Anthimus. Several other letters written by the pope in the first years of his pontificate give information respecting his interposition in the ecclesiastical affairs of various countries. On 6 March 538, he wrote to Bishop Caesarius of Arles concerning the penance of the Austrasian King Theudebert I on account of his marriage to his brother's widow.[11] On 29 June 538, a decretal was sent to Bishop Profuturus of Braga containing decisions on various questions of church discipline. Bishop Auxanius and his successor, Aurelian of Arles, entered into communication with the pope respecting the granting of the pallium as a mark of the dignity and powers of a papal legate for Gaul; the pope sent suitable letters to the two bishops. In the meantime new dogmatic difficulties had been developing at Constantinople that were to give the pope many hours of bitterness. In 543 Emperor Justinian issued a decree which condemned the various heresies of the Origenists; this decree was sent for signature both to the Eastern patriarchs and to Vigilius.

Three Chapters controversy

In order to draw Justinian's thoughts from Origenism, Theodore Askidas, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, called his attention to the fact that the condemnation of various representatives of the Antiochene school, who were said to have inspired Nestorianism, would make union with the Monophysites much easier. The emperor, who laid much stress upon winning over the Monophysites, agreed to this, and in 543 or 544 he issued a new edict condemning the Three Chapters. The "Three Chapters" concerned writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and a letter of Ibas of Edessa. While all three were, indeed, in error, this was due in some part to a misunderstanding of language used by Cyril of Alexandria against the Nestorians. Both Ibas and Theodoret had been deprived of their bishoprics by heretics, and had been restored by the Holy See and the Council of Chalcedon on anathematizing Nestorius. There were no good precedents for thus dealing harshly with the memory of men who had died in the peace of the Church. Such a condemnation at this point was seen by many of the bishops as potentially undermining the Council of Chalcedon itself.[12]

The Eastern patriarchs and bishops signed the condemnation of these Three Chapters, although many signed under duress.[12] In Western Europe, however, the procedure was considered unjustifiable and dangerous, because it was feared that it would detract from the importance of the Council of Chalcedon. Vigilius refused to acknowledge the imperial edict and was called to Constantinople by Justinian, in order to settle the matter there with a synod. According to the Liber pontificalis on 20 November, 545, while the pope was celebrating the Feast of St. Cecilia in the Church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere, and before the service was fully ended, he was ordered by the imperial official Anthimus to start at once on the journey to Constantinople. The pope was taken immediately to a ship that waited in the Tiber in order to be carried to the eastern capital while a part of the populace cursed the pope and threw stones at the ship. Rome was now besieged by the Goths under Totila and the inhabitants fell into the greatest misery. Vigilius sent ships with grain to Rome, but these were captured by the enemy.[13] If the story related by the Liber pontificalis is essentially correct, the pope probably left Rome on 22 November 545. He remained for a long time in Sicily and reached Constantinople about the end of 546 or in January 547.

After his transfer to Constantinople, Vigilius wrote/said to his captors: "Do with me what you wish. This is the just punishment for what I have done." and "You may keep me in captivity, but the blessed Apostle Peter will never be your captive."[14]

While in captivity, Vigilius sought to persuade the emperor to send aid to the inhabitants of Rome and Italy who were so hard pressed by the Goths. Justinian's chief interest, however, was in the matter of the Three Chapters, and as Vigilius was not ready to make concessions of this point and wavered frequently in his measures, he had much to suffer. The matter was further complicated by the fact that the Latins, Vigilius among them, were for the most part ignorant of Greek and therefore unable to judge the incriminated writings for themselves.[12] The change in his position is to be explained by the fact that the condemnation of the writings mentioned was essentially justifiable, yet appeared inopportune and would lead to disastrous controversies with Western Europe. Finally, Vigilius acknowledged in a letter of 8 December 553 to the Patriarch Eutychius the decisions of the Second Council of Constantinople and declared his judgment in detail in a Constitution of 26 February 554. Thus at the end of a sorrowful residence of eight years at Constantinople the pope was able, after coming to an understanding with the emperor, to start on his return to Rome in the spring of 555.


While on the journey he died at Syracuse. His body was brought to Rome and buried in the San Martino ai Monti over the Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria.

See also

References and sources

  1. ^ Mellersh, H.E.L. (1999) The Hutchinson chronology of world history. Volume 1. The ancient and medieval world: Prehistory – AD 1491. Oxford: Helicon, p. 221. ISBN 1859862810
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Kirsch, Johann Peter (1912). "Pope Vigilius" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ Raymond Davis, translator, The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool: University Press, 1989), p. 56
  4. ^ Procopius, De bello gothico I (V).26; translated by H.B. Dewing, Procopius (Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1979), vol. 3 pp. 247f
  5. ^ Fanning, William (1911). Papal Elections. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. Robert Appleton Company. New York. Online transcript by Robert A. Orosco (31 August 2016). New Advent. Knight, Kevin (editor). Archived on 8 April 2016. "It is commonly held also that he is prohibited from doing so by Divine law".
  6. ^ Davis, The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis), p. 55
  7. ^ Procopius, De bello gothico I (V).25.1–4; translated by Dewing, vol. 3 p. 239
  8. ^ a b Procopius, De bello gothico I (V).25.13–14; translated by Dewing, vol. 3 p. 243
  9. ^ Davis, The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis), pp. 55ff
  10. ^ cf. Duchesne in Revue des quest. histor. (1884), II, 373; Chamard, ibid., I (1885), 557; Grisar in Analecta romana, I, 55 sqq.; Savio in Civilta catt., II (1910), 413–422].
  11. ^ Letter translated in William E. Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles: Life, Testament, Letters (Liverpool: University Press, 1994), pp. 118f
  12. ^ a b c Bacchus, Francis Joseph. "Three Chapters." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 11 Oct. 2017
  13. ^ Davis, The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis), pp. 57ff
  14. ^ Carroll, Warren H. (1987). The Building of Christendom. Front Royal, VA: Christendom College Press. ISBN 978-0-931888-24-3.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Vigilius". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

  • Ekonomou, Andrew J. 2007. Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes: Eastern influences on Rome and the papacy from Gregory the Great to Zacharias, A.D. 590–752. Lexington Books.
  • Louise Ropes Loomis, The Book of Popes (Liber Pontificalis). Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. ISBN 1-889758-86-8 (Reprint of the 1916 edition. English translation with scholarly footnotes, and illustrations).


External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Pelagius I

The 540s decade ran from January 1, 540, to December 31, 549.

== Events ==

=== 540 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Emperor Justinian I offers to make peace with Vitiges, but Belisarius refuses to transmit the message. The Ostrogoths then offer to support Belisarius as emperor of the West.

May – Gothic War: Belisarius conquers Mediolanum (modern Milan) and the Gothic capital Ravenna. Vitiges and his wife Matasuntha are taken as captives to Constantinople.

Belisarius consolidates Italy and begins mopping-up operations, capturing the Gothic fortifications. The cities Ticinum and Verona north of River Po remain in Gothic hands.

Ildibad succeeds Vitiges as king of the Ostrogoths, and installs his nephew Totila as commander of the Gothic army. He recaptures Venetia and Liguria in Northern Italy.

====== Europe ======

In Britain various kingdoms are united by a ruler (High King) or overlord, while wars are fought between others.

King Custennin ap Cado is deposed, and returns to Dumnonia in the south-west of Great Britain.

====== Persia ======

King Khosrau I, jealous of Justinian's victories in the West, receives an embassy from the Ostrogoths at Ctesiphon, urging him to act before the Byzantines become too powerful.

Khosrau I breaks the Eternal Peace after eight years. The Persian army marches up the River Euphrates, and follows a path to extract tributes from towns along the way to Antioch.

Khosrau I captures Antioch after a fierce siege; he systematically plunders the city to the extent that marble statues and mosaics are transported to Persia.

====== Africa ======

Solomon captures the Aurès Mountains from the Moors and extends Byzantine authority over Numidia and Mauretania Sitifensis. The city of Theveste (Algeria) is restored and fortified.

====== Asia ======

Jinheung becomes king of the Korean kingdom of Silla.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Cassiodorus, former Roman statesman, establishes a monastery at his estate in Italy. The Vivarium "monastery school" is for highly educated and sophisticated men, who copy sacred and secular manuscripts, intending for this to be their sole occupation (approximate date).

Pope Vigilius rejects Monophysitism in letters to Justinian I and patriarch Menas of Constantinople.

Benedict of Nursia writes his monastic rules, containing precepts for his monks (approximate date).

====== World ======

Global environmental cooling occurs, due either to a comet impact or volcanic eruption in Central America, evidenced by global tree ring growth diminution. Historical evidence records this earlier as the Extreme weather events of 535–536.

=== 541 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

January 1 – Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius is appointed as consul in Constantinople, the last person to hold this office.

Plague of Justinian: Bubonic plague appears suddenly in the Egyptian port of Pelusium, spreading to Alexandria and, the following year, to Constantinople. This is the beginning of a 200-year-long pandemic that will devastate Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Emperor Justinian I recalls Belisarius from Italy to handle the situation in Armenia. He arrives in Upper Mesopotamia and attacks the fortress city of Nisbis. After an unsuccessful siege he ravages the countryside.

John the Cappadocian, praetorian prefect of the East, is dismissed by the Byzantine empress Theodora for treason. He is banished to Cyzicus, and his estates are confiscated.

====== Europe ======

Autumn – Totila is elected king by the Ostrogothic nobles after the death of his uncle Ildibad. He wins the support of the lower classes by liberating slaves and distributing land to the peasants.

Winter – Siege of Verona: Totila defends the city of Verona against a numerically superior Byzantine army. He gains control over the Po Valley and prepares a Gothic offensive in Central Italy.

====== Persia ======

Lazic War: King Khosrau I intervenes in Lazica (modern Georgia), and supports the weakened king Gubazes II against a full-scale uprising. He sends an expeditionary force under Mermeroes and captures the Byzantine stronghold of Petra, located on the coast of the Black Sea, which provides the Persians a strategic port.

====== Asia ======

The Uyghurs come under the rule of the Hephthalites (approximate date).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Jacob Baradaeus becomes bishop of Edessa (approximate date).

=== 542 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Plague of Justinian: Bubonic plague, spread from Egypt, kills at least 230,000 in Constantinople (before counting stops), and perhaps two million or more in the rest of the empire. Emperor Justinian I, renewer of the greatness of Rome's empire and patron of the world's greatest religious building, the Hagia Sophia, contracts the disease but recovers.

Lazic War – Justinian I sends a Byzantine army (30,000 men) to Armenia. The Persians, severely outnumbered, are forced to retreat, but at Dvin the Byzantines are defeated by a force of 4,000 men in an ambush, and are completely routed.

====== Europe ======

Spring – Battle of Faventia: King Totila scatters with 5,000 men the Byzantine forces near Faventia (modern Faenza), beginning the resurgence of Gothic resistance to the reconquest of Italy.

Battle of Mucellium: Totila marches down into Tuscany and defeats the Byzantines at Florence, in the valley of Mugello. He treats his prisoners well, and many are induced to join his banner.

March – Totila bypasses Rome and begins his expedition in Southern Italy. He captures Beneventum and receives the submission of the provinces of Apulia, Lucania and Bruttium.

Siege of Naples: Totila besieges the city of Naples in Campania. A Byzantine relief force from Sicily is intercepted and almost destroyed by Gothic warships.

King Childebert I and his brother Chlothar I invade Visigothic Spain. They capture Pamplona, but Zaragoza withstands a siege and the Franks retreat to Gaul. From this expedition Childebert brings back to Paris a relic, the tunic of Saint Vincent.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Brendan establishes a monastic settlement on Eileach an Naoimh (approximate date).

====== Literature ======

Gildas, British monk, writes his work "De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae" (approximate date).

=== 543 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

Spring – Siege of Naples (542–543): The Byzantine garrison (1,000 men) in Naples surrenders to the Ostrogoths, pressed by famine and demoralized by the failure of two relief efforts. The defenders are well treated by King Totila, and the garrison is allowed safe departure, but the city walls are partly razed.

====== Africa ======

The fortress city of Old Dongola (modern Sudan) along the River Nile becomes the capital of the Kingdom of Makuria. Several churches are built, including the "Old Church" (approximate date).

====== Persia ======

Summer – Khosrow I, Shahanshah of the Sasanian Empire, invades Syria again, and turns south towards Edessa to besiege the fortress city.

The Hephthalites threaten the Sasanian Empire from the East. They extend their domain in Central Asia (approximate date).

A Byzantine invasion of Persarmenia is defeated at the Battle of Anglon by a much smaller force from the Sasanian Empire.

====== Asia ======

King Pulakeshin I establishes the Chalukya dynasty in India. He extends his kingdom by conquering Vakataka and the west coast of Karnataka, giving him access to the valuable Arabian Sea trade routes.

==== By topic ====

====== Learning ======

Approximate date – The Yupian (玉篇) Chinese dictionary is edited by Gu Yewang.

====== Religion ======

The doctrine of apocatastasis is condemned by the Synod of Constantinople.

=== 544 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Gothic War: Emperor Justinian I sends Belisarius back to the Ostrogothic Kingdom (Italy) with an inadequate Byzantine expeditionary force (4,000 men and 200 ships).

Belisarius defeats the Gothic army under King Totila, who unsuccessfully besieges the city of Otranto (southern Italy). After their retreat, the Byzantines march towards Rome.

Justinian I issues a new edict condemning the Three Chapters. In Western Europe, Pope Vigilius refuses to acknowledge the imperial edict and is ordered to Constantinople.

====== Persia ======

King Khosrau I unsuccessfully attacks the Byzantine fortress city of Dara. The siege of Edessa is repulsed, and the Persians are forced into a stalemate.

====== Africa ======

Battle of Cillium: A Byzantine army under Solomon is defeated by the Moors on the border of Numidia. Solomon and his bodyguard are forced to retreat and are later killed.

====== Asia ======

February – Lý Bí is declared emperor and establishes the empire Van Xuân (modern Vietnam). His armies repel attacks from the kingdom of Champa.

October – The Liang dynasty retaliates against Van Xuân, and sends an imperial army (120,000 men) under Chen Baxian to re-occupy the region.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Jacob Baradaeus consecrates Sergius of Tella as patriarch of Antioch, opening a permanent schism between the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

=== 545 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Emperor Justinian I sends Narses, Byzantine general, to the rulers of the Heruli, to recruit troops for the campaigns in Italy and Syria.

====== Europe ======

Gothic War: King Totila establishes his military base at Tivoli (Central Italy), and prepares a campaign to reconquer the region of Latium.

The monastery of Clonmacnoise is founded in Ireland by Ciarán Mac a tSaor on the River Shannon (approximate date).

====== Asia ======

Yangwon becomes ruler of the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo.

====== Persia ======

King Khosrau I signs a five year truce with the Byzantine Empire, but war continues to ravage the Caucasus region, especially in Armenia.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

The Synod of Brefi is held at Llanddewi Brefi, to condemn the Pelagian heresy. Dubricius, archbishop of South Wales, resigns his position in favour of David (approximate date).

=== 546 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

December 17 – Sack of Rome: After almost a year's siege, the capture of a grain fleet sent by the exiled Pope Vigilius near the mouth of the Tiber, and failure of troops of the Byzantine Empire under Belisarius to relieve the city, the Ostrogoths under King Totila plunder Rome and destroy its fortifications. He then withdraws to Apulia (Southern Italy).

Winter – Pope Vigilius arrives in Constantinople to meet with emperor Justinian I. The future Pope Pelagius is sent by Totila to negotiate with Justinian.

====== Europe ======

Audoin murders and succeeds Walthari as king of the Lombards.

Audoin receives subsidies from Justinian I, to encourage him to battle the Gepids in the Carpathian Mountains.

Audoin leads the Lombards across the Danube into Pannonia, and becomes an ally of the Byzantines.

====== Americas ======

Aj Wosal is leader of Naranjo, following its conquest by Calakmul during the First Tikal-Calakmul War.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

The Basilica of San Vitale (Ravenna) is completed by bishop Maximianus, during the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna.

Approximate date – The Diocese of Bangor is established in the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd, with Deiniol consecrated as first bishop.

=== 547 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

Gothic War: Belisarius recaptures Rome from the Ostrogoths, but his Italian campaign is unsuccessful (he is starved of supplies and reinforcements from Constantinople).

The mosaic panels of Justinian I and Theodora I with attendants, in the Basilica of San Vitale (Ravenna), are made (approximate date).

Theudebald, age 13, succeeds his father Theudebert I after a reign of 14 years, and becomes king of Austrasia (or 548).

====== Britain ======

King Ida establishes the kingdom of Bernicia. He builds Bamburgh Castle (northeast England) as a fortress that will become the seat of Anglo-Saxon kings (according to the Historia Brittonum).

====== Africa ======

Battle of Marta: The Byzantine army under John Troglita is defeated by Moorish tribes in Tripolitania. He flees to Lunci (9 km south of Mahares), and is forced to withdraw north to the fortress of Laribus (near modern El Kef).

====== Asia ======

The Tonkin revolt (Vietnam), led by Lý Nam Đế, is suppressed by the Chinese Liang dynasty.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

The Basilica of San Vitale (Ravenna) is consecrated by bishop Maximianus of Ravenna.

=== 548 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

June 28 – Empress Theodora I, age 48, dies probably of breast cancer (according to bishop Victor of Tunnuna). Her body is buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles (Constantinople).

Emperor Justinian I relieves Belisarius from military service, in favour of the 70-year-old Byzantine general Narses.

====== Europe ======

Theudigisel, Visigothic general, proclaims himself ruler over the Visigothic Kingdom after King Theudis is murdered.

====== Persia ======

Lazic War: King Gubazes II revolts against the Persians, and requests aid from Justinian I. He sends a Byzantine expeditionary force (8,000 men) to Lazica (modern Georgia).

Gubazes II besieges the fortress of Petra, located on the Black Sea. The Persian army under Mermeroes defeats a small Byzantine force guarding the mountain passes, and relieves Petra.

Mermeroes stations a garrison of 3,000 men in the stronghold of Petra, and marches to Armenia. The Persians, lacking sufficient supplies, secure the supply routes and plunder Lazica.

====== Africa ======

Spring – Battle of the Fields of Cato: The Byzantine army, under John Troglita, crushes the Moorish revolt in Byzacena (Tunisia).

====== Asia ======

April 13 – Emperor Lý Nam Đế of Vietnam is killed by Laotian tribesmen, while on retreat from the Hong River Plain. He is succeeded by his elder brother Lý Thiên Bảo.

==== By topic ====

====== Commerce ======

Cosmas Indicopleustes, Alexandrian merchant, writes his work Christian Topography. He describes the importance of the spice trade (especially in cloves and sweet aloes) in Ceylon, and the harvesting of pepper in India (approximate date).

====== Religion ======

Saint Catherine's Monastery is established in the Sinai Peninsula.

=== 549 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Siege of Rome: The Ostrogoths under Totila besiege Rome for the third time, after Belisarius has returned to Constantinople. He offers a peace agreement, but this is rejected by Emperor Justinian I.

Totila conquers the city of Perugia (Central Italy) and stations a Gothic garrison. He takes bishop Herculanus prisoner, and orders him to be completely flayed. The Ostrogoth soldier asked to perform this gruesome execution shows pity, and decapitates Herculanus before the skin on every part of his body is removed.

In the Circus Maximus, first and largest circus in Rome, the last chariot races are held.

====== Europe ======

January - At the Battle of Ciiil Conaire in Ireland, Ailill Inbanda and his brother are defeated and killed.

Agila I succeeds Theudigisel as king of the Visigoths, after he is murdered by a group of conspirators during a banquet in Seville.

====== Persia ======

Spring – Lazic War: The Byzantine army under Bessas combines forces with King Gubazes II, and defeats the Persians in Lazica (modern Georgia) in a surprise attack. The survivors retreat into Caucasian Iberia.The Romans unsuccessfully besiege Petra, Lazica.

====== Asia ======

Jianwen Di succeeds his father Wu Di as emperor of the Liang Dynasty (China).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

c. 549–564 – Transfiguration of Christ, mosaic in the apse, Church of the Virgin, Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt, is made.

Fifth Council of Orléans: Nine archbishops and forty-one bishops pronounce an anathema against the errors of Nestorius and Eutyches.

Bishop Maximianus of Ravenna consecrates the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Ossory (which still exists) is founded in Ireland.


Year 546 (DXLVI) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 546 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 555 (DLV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 555 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Aurelianus of Arles

Aurelianus (523 – 551) was Archbishop of Arles from 546 to 551. His predecessors were Auxanius (bishop form 542-546) and Caesarius of Arles (d. 542). His father Sacerdos (d. 552) was an Archbishop of Lyon. His cousin Nicetius (d. 573) succeeded his father as Archbishop of Lyon. He died on 16 June 551 in Lyon and is buried in the Church of Saint-Nizier. The text of his epitaph is preserved.


Auxanius was Bishop of Arles c. 543-c. 546. He was succeeded by Bishop Aurelian of Arles. Auxanius received two letters from Pope Vigilius. He is otherwise unknown.

Christianity in the 6th century

In 6th-century Christianity, Roman Emperor Justinian launched a military campaign in Constantinople to reclaim the western provinces from the Germans, starting with North Africa and proceeding to Italy. Though he was temporarily successful in recapturing much of the western Mediterranean he destroyed the urban centers and permanently ruined the economies in much of the West. Rome and other cities were abandoned. In the coming centuries the Western Church, as virtually the only surviving Roman institution in the West, became the only remaining link to Greek culture and civilization.

In the East, Roman imperial rule continued through the period historians now call the Byzantine Empire. Even in the West, where imperial political control gradually declined, distinctly Roman culture continued long afterwards; thus historians today prefer to speak of a "transformation of the Roman world" rather than a "Fall of Rome." The advent of the Early Middle Ages was a gradual and often localised process whereby, in the West, rural areas became power centres whilst urban areas declined. Although the greater number of Christians remained in the East, the developments in the West would set the stage for major developments in the Christian world during the later Middle Ages.

Dacius (bishop of Milan)

Dacius or Datius (Italian: Dazio) was Bishop of Milan from c. 530 to 552. He is honoured as a saint in the Catholic Church.An active ecclesiastical politician, he was an ally of Pope Vigilius in the latter's struggles against Justinian, involved in the Three-Chapter Controversy. He is remembered as a defender of Catholic orthodoxy against the heresies of his day.

Facundus of Hermiane

For the Spanish saint and martyr, see Facundus and Primitivus.Facundus of Hermiana was a 6th-century Christian author, and bishop of Hermiana in North Africa.

About his career little is known. His place in history is due entirely to the opposition which he offered to the condemnation (by the edict of Justinian in 543 or 544) of the "Three Chapters". At the instance of Theodore Ascidas, and with the ostensible purpose of reuniting to the Church the Acephali, a sect of Monophysites, Justinian was induced to censure the "Three Chapters". By this act certain writings of the fifth-century Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa were condemned.

Facundus was in Constantinople when this censure was pronounced, and shortly after its publication he and several other western bishops refused to subscribe to the decree, alleging that it was an attack on the Council of Chalcedon, which had accepted at least the letter of Ibas to the Persian Maris. This document was especially aimed at in the decree of the emperor. Facundus also drew up a memorial in protest, but was prevented from presenting it by the arrival of Pope Vigilius. The conduct of the pontiff and his acquiescence in the condemnation of the "Three Chapters" spurred Facundus to complete this work, which he entitled Pro Defensione Trium Capitulorum.

It is not known when the work was completed nor when it was presented to the emperor, so that nothing can be said of its immediate effect on the controversy. After its publication Facundus was compelled to fly from Constantinople and find safety in concealment. Because of the attitude of Vigilius in acceding to the emperor's insistence that he subscribe to the censure of the "Three Chapters", Facundus and many African bishops cut themselves off from communion with him.

This schism lasted for many years, and during that time Facundus wrote two other works at the request of his fellow-bishops, in response to reproaches of insubordination (Liber contra Mocianum Scholasticum and Epistola Fidei Catholicae in defensione trium capitulorum).

Flavius Turcius Rufius Apronianus Asterius

Turcius Rufius Apronianus Asterius was a Roman aristocrat during the reign of Theodoric the Great. He held the consulship with Flavius Praesidius in 494, having been Praefectus urbi of Rome before holding that honor.

One of the oldest texts of Vergil's works, the codex Mediceus (Florence Laur. 39.1 + Vatican lat. 3225, f.76), which was written in Italy in the fifth century, contains a subscription stating that it was corrected at Rome by Turcius Rufius Apronianus Asterius. As John Matthews notes, "Not only did Asterius thus record for posterity his literary work ... in an elegiac poem he also commemorated the consular games given by him (in 494) at great expense to his now slender fortune."According to the Liber Pontificalis, enemies of Pope Vigilius claimed the pope married Asterius to his niece Vigilia, "then took an opportunity to have him arrested at night and beaten to death." However Jeffrey Richards strips the defamation from this claim, and explains that Vigilia was married to Asterius following her father Reparatus's death in 539 as a way to provide for her.

Fulgentius Ferrandus

Fulgentius Ferrandus was a canonist and theologian of the African Church in the first half of the 6th century.

Papal apocrisiarius

The apocrisiarius or apocrisiary was the legate from the Pope to the Patriarch of Constantinople, circa 452-743, equivalent to the modern nunciature.

Papal travel

Papal travel outside Rome has been historically rare, and voluntary travel was non-existent for the first 500 years. Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) undertook more pastoral trips than all his predecessors combined. Pope Francis (2013-), Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) also travelled globally, the latter to a lesser extent due to his advanced age.

Popes resided outside Rome—primarily in Viterbo, Orvieto, and Perugia—during the 13th century, and then absconded to France during the Avignon Papacy (1309–1378). Pope Vigilius (537-555) in 547, Pope Agatho (678-681) in 680, and Pope Constantine in 710 visited Constantinople, whereas Pope Martin I (649-655) was abducted there for trial in 653. Pope Stephen II (752-757) became the first pope to cross the Alps in 752 to crown Pepin the Short; Pope Pius VII repeated the feat over a millennium later to crown Napoleon.


Reparatus (died 539) was a Roman aristocrat, and politician under Ostrogothic rule. He held the offices of Urban prefect (527) and Praetorian prefect of Italy.

Reparatus was the brother of Pope Vigilius; according to the Liber pontificalis, their father was Johannes and identified as a consul having received that title from the emperor. He was one of the senators taken hostage by Witigis in November/December 536, but managed to escape along with his fellow senator Vergentius (also known as Bergantinus) before the Ostrogoths ordered their slaughter in Spring 537, only to be trapped in Milan during the siege of that city in Summer 538 to March 539. While Reparatus was killed when the city fell, Vergentius managed to escape with his life and left Italy for Constantinople.Responsibility for Reparatus' fatherless children fell to their uncle the Pope. Pope Vigilius married his niece, Vigilia, to Flavius Turcius Rufius Apronianus Asterius, the consul of 494, and provided for his nephew Rusticus by ordaining him as a deacon in the Roman church.

Romana (Jordanes)

The Romana is a Latin book written by Jordanes in the 6th century, being a short compendium of the most remarkable events from the creation down to the victory obtained by Narses, in AD 552, over king Teia. The work has been published under many different titles: De Regnorum ac Temporum Successione, Liber de origine mundi et actibus Romanorum ceterarumque gentium or De gestis Romanorum.

It is an epitome of epitomes that was begun before, but published after, the Getica, covering the history of the world from the Creation, mainly based on Jerome, with material from Florus, and for the last part from Marcellinus Comes, the continuator of Jerome; it is of some value for the century 450–550, when Jordanes is dealing with recent history, and also for some accounts of several barbarous nations of the north, and the countries which they inhabited. It was written in 551 or 552 at Constantinople for a man addressed as "nobilissime frater Vigilii", unlikely to be Pope Vigilius.

Its Editio princeps, with the Getica and Paul the Deacon, was printed in Augsburg by Konrad Peutinger in 1515. The earliest translations are a French translation by Drouet de Maupertuy, and one in Swedish by J. T. Peringskiold in 1719. The classical edition remains that by Theodor Mommsen in 1882, published with the Getica in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. It was Mommsen who first gave Jordanes' works the names by which they are mostly known, Romana and Getica.

Rufius Petronius Nicomachus Cethegus

Rufius Petronius Nicomachus Cethegus was a politician of Ostrogothic Italy and the Eastern Roman Empire. He was appointed consul for 504, and held the post without a colleague. His father was Petronius Probinus, the consul for 489 and prominent supporter of Antipope Laurentius.John Moorhead has proposed identifying Cethegus with a Petronius of Rome, who with a Renatus of Ravenna, debated Severus of Antioch on the nature of Christ while Severus resided in Constantinople (508–511). If correct, this identification would put Cethegus in a circle of aristocratic intellectuals around Boethius.In December 546, when the King of the Ostrogoths, Totila, overcame the Byzantine defences and entered the city of Rome, Cethegus, who by his seniority had become president of the Senate, Decius (who had been consul in 529), and Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius (who had been consul in 541) fled Rome with general Bessas. According to the Liber Pontificalis, Cethegus and Basilius reached Constantinople where the Emperor Justinian I consoled them "and enriched them as befitted Roman consuls."While residing in Constantinople, Justinian twice used Cethegus' services to negotiate with Pope Vigilius over the latter's refusal to condemn the Three Chapters: the first was in late 551, when Vigilius had fled the Placidia Palace and sought sanctuary in the Basilica of St. Peter of Hormisdas; the second in Spring 552, when Vigilius had again fled the Placidia Palace shortly before Christmas, and this time finding sanctuary in the Church of St. Euphemia in Chalcedon.He was still alive in 558.

Sack of Rome (546)

The Sack of Rome in 546 was carried out by the Gothic king Totila during the Gothic War of 535–554 between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantine Empire. Totila was based at Tivoli and, in pursuit of his quest to reconquer the region of Latium, he moved against Rome. The city endured a siege lasting almost a year before falling to the Goths.


Tauricianus was the second bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nevers.

The same Tauricianus was among the bishop of Nevers listed by Demochares in the book of the du divin Sacrifice de la Mefle.

Taurianus was said by Rufticus, to have ruled his bishopric in the time of Pope Vigilius and Childebert King of France about the year of the Lord 538.He attended the council, held at Epone in 517. There he signed the deeds of the council with Tauricianus civitatis Nivemensis episcopus, relegiet subscripsi.

Verecundus of Junca

Verecundus (fl. 552) was a 6th-century writer and the bishop of Iunca (or Junca) in Roman North Africa (the modern Tunisia). He was an ardent champion of the Three Chapters.


Vigilius may refer to:

Pope Vigilius (died 555), Pope 537-555

Vigilius of Trent (c. 353-405), bishop, martyr and saint

Church of Saint Vigilius of Trent (Pinzolo)

Vigilius of Thapsus, 5th-century bishop and writer

Vigilius Eriksen (1722-1782), Danish painter

Vigilius, an extinct genus of amphibian

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