Election of Vigilius as Pope Ushers in One of Lowest Points in Papacy

Election of Vigilius as Pope Ushers in One of Lowest Points in Papacy

Pope Vigilius
Source: Wikipedia

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Vigilius is elected pope. Pope Vigilius is widely considered one of lowest points in the papacy. He appears to have designed his entire career around the goal of becoming pope - something he nearly achieved when Pope Boniface II chose him to be his successor. Unfortunately for Vigilius, this decision resulted in a great deal of opposition and the choice had to be rescinded.

Boniface's actual successor, Pope Agapetus I, appointed Vigilius to be the papal representative at Constantinople. Here Vigilius met Empress Theodora and the two began to conspire with each other. Theodora was anxious to get revenge for the setbacks suffered by supporters of the monophysite heresy and Vigilius was anxious to eventually become pope. Theodora promised to support his bid to become pope and to provide large sums of money if, in exchange, Vigilius promised to support Theodora's doctrinal causes.

After Agapetus died, Vigilius headed to Rome to take what he believed was rightfully his. During this time Silverius had been elected pope due to the influence of the Goths. However, once in Rome, Vigilius and the Byzantine commander Belisarius received letters from Theodora explaining the situation and Belisarius proceeded to use his military forces to depose Silverius. After that, military and Byzantine pressure caused Vigilius to be elected pope.

Unfortunately for Silverius, he was put into Vigilius' care and died due to the harsh treatment he had to endure - but it was only after Silverius' death that Vigilius was universally acknowledged as pope by the Christian clergy. Unfortunately, Vigilius was faced with a problem. He had promised Theodora to support the Monophysites, but Theodras husband - emperor Justinian - opposed the Monophysites.

At different times Vigilius expressed his sympathy and support for both sides, but he couldn't maintain his balancing act forever.

Over time, he ended up doing more to deepen the divisions within the Church rather than heal them as he tried so hard to do.

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