He was succeeded by the first of twenty three "Johns" - Pope Saint John I who was born in Populania, Italy and elected on August 13, 523. He would die three years later. During this time he crowned the Emperor Justinian in Constantinople. The latter could not help the Pope when the barbaric King Theodoric invaded Italy and imprisoned John where he died in a cell in Ravenna on May 18, 526.
Pope Saint Felix IV followed John on July 12, 526 for four years. Felix was arbitrarily nominated Pope by Theodoric for the kings own devious ends and to win the people over. Felix showed so much loyalty to the good of Holy Mother Church that it incensed Theodoric and the Goth king eventually repudiated Felix, exiling him. Upon his death on September 22, 530 the Liberty of cult was restored to the Christians.
On the day of Felix' death Pope Saint Boniface II became the 55th successor of Peter. His papacy would last only two years. Unlike his predecessors, Boniface was of Gothic origin and many refered to him as the "barbarian pope" though he was in no way barbaric and permitted Benedict to build the monastery of Monte Cassino on the old temple of Apollo. Because of his ethnic origins a rival faction caused problems by electing an antipope in Dioscoros but any struggle or major problems ceased when the antipope died before Boniface did on October 17, 532.
Sandwiching Felix was the other John, Pope Saint John II who was elected on January 2, 533 after a three month hiatus due to squabbles over which faction was to hold court. Felix' followers won out and a man named Mercurius was elected. He became the first to change his name because his name represented a pagan god, therefore he began a tradition of choosing a papal name that exists to this day. Through an edict of Atalaric, the Sovereign Pontiff was recognized as the head of all bishops world wide.
Following him was Pope Saint Agapitus who ruled just under a year. This Roman-born priest was elected on May 13, 535 and died on April 22, 536. He was enticed by Theodoric to travel to Constantinople to basically spy on Justinian in discovering the latter's plans for Italy. But Agapitus went there for the people and to try to convert Justinian's wife Theodora back to Catholicism from the eutichian faith. Sadly she rebelled and poisoned Agapitus in Constantinople.
This, we find, was condoned by Justinian and prompted his sending his Byzantine armies, under the command of Belisarius to capture Rome with the Pope dead. But the cardinals and Roman people, in an emergency election, had elevated a Frosinone-born prelate to the papal throne Pope Saint Silverius. He was the last of the long string of canonized popes until Pope Saint Gregory the Great at the end of the century. Silverius' pontificate would last a year and a half and ended in martyrdom on the isle of Ponza when Silverius refused to renounce the Papacy, dying for Christ on November 11, 537.
With Silverius' death Pope Vigilius was elected five months later on March 537 and brought stability to the Holy See as he lasted eighteen years. Despite Theodora's efforts to intimidate him, Vigilius refused to annul the condemnation of the eutichian theories which would be fully condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 553. Throughout his pontificate Vigilius, who was handpicked by Justinian, would be locked in a battle of philosophies with the Pope. Because of the interwoven connection between the two, it alienated many in the west who worked feverishly to depose Vigilius including a synod of African bishops who excommunicated the Pope in 550 and Vigilius countered by putting an interdict on them. It was punch, counterpunch. There had been a great struggle to move the center of influence from Rome to Constantinople and had Vigilius been left unchecked, because of the power Justinian held over him, who knows what the results might have been. Fortunately there were enough in the west who helped Vigilius see the light and return loyalty to Rome and the Church. Incensed, Justinian ordered the Pope's arrest while he was celebrating Holy Mass but managed to escape and take refuge in the council church at Chalcedon. There he published an encyclical which attentmpted to justify his actions and all called for a council in Italy or Sicily, but Justinian insisted it be held in Constantinople. The emperor won and thus the Council was convened on May 5, 553. Like Pope Saint Sylvester I who did not attend the Council of Nicaea in 235, Vigilius did not attend. By not attending he escaped the scrutiny of peers and came out unscathed, reconciling with Justinian and being the benefactor of the so-called Pragmatic Sanctions on August 13, 554 which were intended to establish the orderly imperioal government in Italy which had been taken from the Goths and which assured the Church the rights and privileges that helped her grow and gain civil power as we shall see in succeeding installments. Despite all of the benefits bestowed on the Italian people by Justinian through the maneuvering of Vigilius, he was not held in great esteem by the people who looked upon him as a traitor of sorts and thus, when he died in Syracuse, Sicily on June 7, 555, his remains were buried in San Marcello on the Via Salaria rather than St. Peter's for the people would not allow it.
In the next installment we shall cover the second half of the sixth century from Pelagius to the Gregorian Era with Pope Saint Gregory the Great.
Cardinal Korec was born in Bosany, Czechoslovakia on January 22, 1924. At the age of 15, at the outbreak of World War II, he entered the Jesuit minor seminary and then after the war the major seminary until he was forced underground because of Communist suppression in Slovakia. On October 1, 1950 and in 1951 Pope Pius XII named him a bishop in pectore, which means secretly so as not to bring any further persecution on him. Even though he was a religious, he was forced to work for nine years in a factory ministering to people as a priest clandestinely. When he was discovered in 1960 he was arrested. When he was dismissed from the hospital in 1968 he was again forced into hardlabor, collecting garbage before being returned to the same factory. However in 1974, when the government discovered he was still ministering to the faithful, he was once again arrested. But he was finally released after meticulous talks between the Holy See and the Communists of Slovakia which helped bring about his freedom.
When the communistic regime fell in Slovakia and multiparty elections held, the Pope appointed him Bishop of Nitra on February 6, 1990, making his appointment as a bishop official even though secretly he had been one for nearly forty years. Rome also reestablished diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia, paving the way for the Holy Father to travel there for a papal visit that summer. A year later, after all the years of persecution and hard labor, Cardinal Korec was honored in the Holy Father's Consistory of June 28, 1991 when he received his red hat and the titular church of Sts. Fabian and Venantius at Villa Forelli and assigned various curial memberships in the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and the Pontifical Council for Culture. At 75, he is still eligible for the Conclave and continues to serve as Bishop for the Diocese of Nitra, residing at Biskupsky urad, post. schranka 46A, 950 50 Nitra-Hrad, Slovakia.
Baths equaled a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
Houses had thatched roofs. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets...dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived on the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs,"
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed, so they found if they made beds with big posts and hung a sheet over the top, it addressed that problem. Hence those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor."
The wealthy had slate floors which in the winter would get slippery when wet. So they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed at the entry way, hence a "thresh hold."
They cooked in the kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They mostly ate vegetables and didn't get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been in there for a month. Hence the rhyme: "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."
Sometimes they could obtain pork and would
feel really special when that happened. When company came over, they would
bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. It was a sign of wealth and
that a man "could really bring home the bacon."
They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach into the food. This happened most often with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes...for 400 years.
Most people didn't have pewter plates, but had trenchers - a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off wormy trenchers, they would get "trench mouth."
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust."
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake."
England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins, take their bones to a house and reuse the grave. In reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the "graveyard shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead ringer."
She used to be "scared" of a wee little mouse
Would scream if one ever got in the house.
Now she hugs one night and day
She'd rather cuddle it than stay
On the couch and watch TV
Her first love now is her P.C.
Windows were glass she'd wash and look through
Now they are programs to help her view
The earth and the sea and the beautiful sky
A virus was something from which you could die
Now it's a nuisance that could spoil your day,
But it can be fixed and sent on its way.
She served her time with diapers and dishes,
Now she can do whatever she wishes.
And if that means staying up half the night
To point arrows at icons-that's really all right.
A bit was something you had little of,
Now it takes eight bytes to make the above
It's all so confusing, it makes her head ache.
A byte was something you took from a cake.
She's learning more about it now
Her four year old grandchild showed her how.
I want all the world to rejoice today as honor is given unto Me through the holy remembrance of My angels!
O! Little children, you have forgotten My angels, and the missions I have bestowed upon each choir of these good spirits.
The full power and beauty of My angels cannot be put into human words. It is faith rooted in the heart which assists you in applying to angels for help in your earthly life.
Recall that St. Michael is the defender of My Name, and he is charged with the particular care of My True Church and of all souls in their journey home to Me.
Call often upon St. Michael. To him who bears the standard of My Cross is likewise entrusted the care, protection and honor of My Most Precious Blood - the Cup of Eternal Salvation! To him I ask you to call out in the name of the Trinity. Beseech the Triune Divinity to permit Michael the Archangel to pour out the Cup of My Blood, which is Merciful Love, upon all the holy souls in Purgatory, and upon all the world.
Ask the Triune Divinity to wash all souls called home each day in the Cup of My Precious Blood, and conditionally baptize all who will pass to eternity each day, particularly all aborted babies and all who do not know Me.
This, My children, is a great act of Mercy, and at the moment of your own death I Myself shall clothe you in the Mantle of My Mercy.
I Myself shall stand with you at your particular judgment, and the Father shall see not your transgressions which must be atoned for, but will yield to My Precious Blood shed to the last drop in obedience to the Perfect Will.
I call all the world now to My Mercy, I delight in souls who are merciful to all, especially to those poor souls who do not recognize the virtue and merit of Mercy.
I tell you these things because you have forgotten all I have done for you! You must renew your faith, enliven your hope and soar upon wings of Divine Love if you are to persevere in these terrible days. Yes, My angels shall help you if you truly believe and call upon them. I have given them to you. Will you refuse such a gift?
Therefore, I solemnly tell you, have a strong devotion to the angels and they shall assist you in all manner of things. Their power is greater than satan and his demons, for their power is Mine! I ask you to say daily the prayer to your guardian angel and to St. Michael, for in this way My Holy Mother's Immaculate Heart shall triumph sooner.
I love and bless you. I tell you that this day marks a moment in the history of mankind when you shall see signs and wonders both in the Heavens and on earth which are signs and wonders My angels execute at My Command.
Prepare yourselves well as My Mother has instructed you and be at great peace, for I do not abandon My children who are meek and humble of heart!
Behold, on this day, My day, My True Church celebrates the creation by Me of all the angels, I want My people to remember at all times My benevolence by creating these spirits of great power and goodness, and My benevolence in giving them to you! Behold, they obey Me at all times and in all things, having passed the test and having given to Me their own fiat.
Now in splendor and glory do My angels serve My Will; My Will is to seek your eternal Salvation. Therefore, with what care do I watch over you, desiring to shelter you from the harsh evilness of your world which is ruled by satan. I give to you all the angelic hosts. They are there to guide, guard and protect you from all harm. But how little you believe in them! How shallow your faith. How superficial is your trust in Me, Who am Jesus Christ, Only-begotten Son of God. Why , My children, do you fail in trust in Me? If you cannot place your trust in Me Who Am, how little is your trust in the benevolent protection of My angels.
Little children, you are living in the most critical of all times in mankind's history, and the angels of heaven are ceaselessly working to keep you from perdition.
Therefore, I solemnly tell you: Just as I have sent My Mother unto you, so have I sent all My angels to be with you. Therefore, begin now to pray to them and implore their aid. For I solemnly tell you that being ever at your side they are nevertheless always in My Eternal Presence, adoring Me Who Am!
Behold, I solemnly tell you: The day shall come when each of you shall behold your angel! You shall see the heavenly angels robed in splendor, armed with My power and then you shall believe.
But blessed are those of My little children who believe now and implore the help of angels. These are My children of great faith close to My Heart, and through their many prayers they bring about the Triumph of My Mother's Immaculate Heart sooner.
Yes, My children, pray much, for you do not realize that the days of chastisement are upon you, and without prayer they who lack faith and are filled with selfish ego shall be swept away by heresy.
Heed My words: Be ever prepared for you do not know what is coming!