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were at the service of orthodoxy. In 533-534 Justinian's famous general, Belisarius, uprooted thc Vandals. The war for the faith and the empire was carried into Italy also, against the Arian Goths. In 536 Belisarius, unopposed, entered Rome at the invitation of the Pope. But the next year
the Goths rallied all their forces to retake the city. It was a crisis in the struggle for Italy. “If a single post had given way," says Gibbon, “the Romans, and Rome itself, were irrecoverably lost." The Goths withdrew, defeated, in 538; and this defeat, says Hodgkin, dug “the grave of the Gothic monarchy in Italy."
Though the conflict went on for years before the Goths were rooted up, this defeat of 538 was a crucial hour in their history. Finlay says:
“With the conquest of Rome by Belisarius, the history of the ancient city may be considered as terminating; and with his defense against Witiges (538] commences the history of the Middle Ages.”—“Greece under the Romans,” p. 295.
Roughly speaking, the Middle Ages and the age of papal supremacy and power were the same.
A New Order of Popes Not only was there this telling stroke by the imperial sword in 538, helping to clear the way before the Papacy, but,
at this same time the first of a new order of popes was placed upon the papal throne by the imperial arms. Pope Silverius, accused of sympathy with the Goths, was deposed by Belisarius in 537. The emperor intervened, and the question of the validity of his deposition was held up by the emperor until 538. In that year, as Schaff says:
“Vigilius, a pliant creature of Theodora, ascended the papal chair under the military protection of Belisarius (538-554).”—“History of the Christian Church,” Vol. III, p. 327.
With him begins a new order. Though personally he was humiliated by the emperor's demands, and the Papacy itself
THE FAMOUS SACRED STAIRWAY
Here Luther, climbing the stairway on IN ROME
his knees, heard the message,
just shall live by faith," was brought into a state of subjection that it had not known even under heretical Gothic kings, yet this very arbitrary use of the papal prerogative by Justinian, strengthened the idea that the Pope of Rome was the supreme authority in religion, to speak for the universal church. In Bemont and Monod's textbook on "Medieval Europe," page 120, we read:
“Down to the sixth century all popes are declared saints in the martyrologies. Vigilius (537*-555) is the first of a series of popes who no longer bear this title, which is henceforth sparingly conferred. From this time on the popes, more and more involved in worldly events, no longer belong solely to the church; they are men of the state, and then rulers of the state.”
A Persecuting Power Following Vigilius came Pelagius I (556-560), who ascended the throne by "the military aid of Narses," then the imperial general in Italy. And Pelagius, who had been set in the papal see by imperial power, began to demand that the sword of the empire should be used against bishops or members in the church who did not give way to the authority of the Pope. His letters on this subject "are an unqualified defense of the principles of persecution.” (See “Dictionary of Christian Biography,” by Smith and Wace, art. “Pope Pelagius.")
The prophecy declared that the Papacy would be given special supremacy during a period of 1260 years.
In A. D. 533 came the memorable imperial declaration recognizing that supremacy, and in A. D. 538 came the stroke with the sword of Rome, cleaving the way; and there began the new order of popes —"men of the state, and then rulers of the state.”
Thus decisive events clearly mark the beginning of the prophetic period of the 1260 years. And just 1260 years from the decree of 533, in recognition of the papal supremacy, came a decree, in 1793, aimed against that supremacy; and just 1260 years from that stroke with the sword at Rome in behalf of the Papacy, came a stroke with the sword at Rome against the Papacy.
* The exact date should be 538, as given in the quotation from Schaff's history. “ From the death of Silverius (June, 538] the Roman Catholic writers date the episcopacy of Vigilius."-- Bower, “ History of the Popes," under