Saint Simplicius

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Saint Simplicius, Pope and Confessor.

HE was the ornament of the Roman clergy under SS. Leo and Hilarius, and succeeded the latter in the pontificate in 497. He was raised by God to comfort and support his church amidst the greatest storms. All the provinces of the western empire, out of Italy, were fallen into the hands of barbarians, infected for the greater part with idolatry or Arianism. The ten last emperors, during twenty years, were rather shadows of power than sovereigns, and in the eighth year of the pontificate of Simplicius, Rome itself fell a prey to foreigners. Salvian, a learned priest of Marseilles in 440, wrote an elegant book on Divine Providence, in which he shows that these calamities were a just chastisement of the sins of the Christians; saying, that if the Goths were perfidious, and the Saxons cruel, they were, however, both remarkable for their chastity; as the Franks were for humanity, though addicted to lying: and that though these barbarians were impious, they had not so perfect a knowledge of sin, nor consequently were so criminal as those whom God chastised by them. The disorders of the Roman state paved the way for this revolution. Excessive taxes were levied in the most arbitrary ways. The governors oppressed the people at discretion, and many were obliged to take shelter among the barbarians: for the Bagaudes, Franks, Huns, Vandals, and Goths raised no taxes upon their subjects: on which account nations once conquered by them were afraid of falling again under the Roman yoke, preferring what was called slavery, to the empty name of liberty. Italy, by oppressions, and the ravages of barbarians, was left almost a desert without inhabitants; and the imperial armies consisted chiefly of barbarians, hired under the name of auxiliaries, as the Suevi, Alans, Heruli, Goths, and others. These soon saw their masters were in their power. The Heruli demanded one third of the lands of Italy, and, upon refusal, chose for their leader Odoacer, one of the lowest extraction, but a tall, resolute, and intrepid man, then an officer in the guards, and an Arian heretic, who was proclaimed king at Rome in 476. He put to death Orestes, who was regent of the empire, for his son Augustulus, whom the senate had advanced to the imperial throne. The young prince had only reigned eight months, and his great beauty is the only thing mentioned of him. Odoacer spared his life, and appointed him a salary of six thousand pounds of gold, and permitted him to live at full liberty near Naples. Pope Simplicius was wholly taken up in comforting and relieving the afflicted, and in sowing the seeds of the Catholic faith among the barbarians.

March 2. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints.


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