CPL 1681
Date early sixth century
Incipit gesta Liberii episcopi collectum, quod asparsum fuerat, gestae huius
Modern Text See the upcoming CUA publication The Correspondence of Liberius by Dr. Glen L. Thompson.
German Translation Wirbelauer, Eckhard. Zwei Päpste in Rom (München: Tuduv, 1993).
Note This document is part of the Symmachian forgeries, longly believed to be authentic.

The acts of Liberius:

 Here begins the collected acts of bishop Liberius, which had been scattered.

 Concealed by deacon Damasus, who afterwards became presbyter, then bishop of Rome.

 In the ninth year of the reign of Constans, son of the great emperor Constantine

 (1) There was a certain priest {in the city [of Rome]} named Liberius, {who was bishop,} who preached Christ, just as he had been instructed by bishop Mark of the city of Rome, who ordained him a deacon from his seat in the Basilica Constantiniana. He was always firmly founded in the Trinity, preaching and praising the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: “God from God, light from light, whole from wholeness, fullness from fullness, not created but begotten, not out of nothing but out of the Father, of one substance being with the Father. We also worship the Spirit, our holy Lord, neither unbegotten nor begotten, neither created nor made, but proceeding from the Father, of the Father and the Son, always with the Father and the Son coeternal. Nevertheless, we most dutifully acknowledge one God, because out of the Father comes all that is of the Father; the Son was born God – everything is in the Father – and the Father has begotten the Son, yet in begetting the Son, he neither diminished nor let go any of his divine nature; we most dutifully confess moreover, that everything is of God the Father, and of the Son who is most certainly begotten from him, and of the Holy Spirit, being one God.

 (2) We believe in Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God, through whom all things have been made, which are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. For our salvation, he descended from heaven, yet never ceased to be in heaven, and was begotten from the Holy Spirit from the virgin Mary. When the Word was made flesh, he did not lose what he was, but began to be that which he had not been. Not changing, but ever God, and also born man; not allegedly, but truly; not born as a spirit, but with a body body, not an illusion, but having the flesh, countenance, blood, thoughts, and spirit; so he was both true man and true God; we in no way avoid confessing him to have been at one and the same time true man, and this same God, Jesus Christ, fulfilled the law and the prophets, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified according to the scriptures, on the third day rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. And we await the coming age when through fire he will come from there to judge the living and the dead.

 (3) While Liberius was reading this out of an old book, he learned from that book about Sylvester, the bishop of the Romans – which he also publicly preached – that he [Sylvester] cleansed the emperor Constantine, father of Constans, of leprosy in the name of the crucified Jesus Christ. For even Constans was not entirely a Christian but also deceitful. Therefore he was baptized in the Trinity, although he did not fully acknowledge the Trinity; He was nevertheless baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia in Nicomedia in the villa Aquila; In truth he (Eusebius) was also claiming that Joseph had other children from Mary. When bishop Liberius of the city of Rome had heard this, he began to ridicule him and with a clear voice accused him before the Christian community and said, “You will not reign with all power, because you do not fear the Lord your God.” When many people informed emperor Constans of this, he became angry and ordered Liberius to live outside the city. And so he lived as an exile three miles from the city of Rome, in the cemetery of Novella on the Via Salaria.

 (4) However, when Easter came, Liberius summoned all the presbyters, the Roman citizens and deacons, and he sat in the same cemetery and said, “Do not be afraid because I do not live with you in Rome, for you have a representative – look! – my brother and priest Damasus, whose testimony in both body and mind you brought forward to me, proclaiming it in a loud voice.” However, the priest Dionysius responded to bishop Liberius of the city of Rome and said, “O holy bishop, innocent from corruption and strong in the excellence of Christ, you well know that the apostle Peter became weak when he denied Christ. He came to the entrance, and he denied him a second time. The fever came a third time, and he denied again. The fever fell back, and he wept bitterly and sweetly. However, a physician had not yet come. But a kind of physician came after three years. He made a remedy and took care of him. He who through his denials had failed three times before the passion, was renewed three times by love after the resurrection. Observe the remedy of Christ {charisma}: the sacrament of the anointing. May the dove not accuse us, because you prepare the chrism in the name of him, whom you preached with a clear voice. We ourselves hold to this voice, because the voice of the Lord cannot be repeated, cannot be changed, and should be heard with trembling.” Then, bishop Liberius of the city of Rome responded and said, “Lordly and holy priests, ‘do not think about tomorrow,’ for thus the teacher said, ‘Indeed tomorrow will think about itself.’ For we remind you of this: John baptized the repentant in the desert. Therefore he was alone, because the founder of baptism had not yet come. But when that man had come, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and he remained above the waters and above the creator of baptism, and he exhibited the sacrament to the priest, who accepted it.” The priest Damasus responded and said, “Show us how to celebrate Easter. I speak in humility. For we are not able to lift up ourselves the burden that you carry over yourself. Because you do not know when you baptize, when you are the leader, baptize in a basin. That basin is not wood, but it is the whole world.” Liberius accepted this sermon with great honor and praise and he cried out and said to him, “You will be the great servant, just like that man who gave us baptism.” Then he spoke to the people, “He who is beneath you will be greater than you.” The deacon Siricius responded and said, “O leader, listen to my prayer and grant me favor. Following the type of baptism, fathers crossed through the middle of the sea. For one ought to be baptized in rivers and in wetlands.” Bishop Liberius said, “You have spoken justly.” For the cemetery of Ostriana, where the apostle Peter baptized, was not far from the cemetery of Novella. At the same time of Easter he baptized people of both sexes to the number of four thousand twelve, because all the people of Rome, and those coming from afar from the other neighboring cities of the Romans, wanted to be baptized by him.

 (5) However, since war arose across the Danube at the same time, the greatest portion were barbarians, as it was during the eight days of Easter. And when he heard this, Constans said, “Truly, on account of this it is a sacrilege, because – that which had never happened – he made vain superstition, therefore this blow of vast multitudes of barbarians came over into Roman territory.” And he took part in the war and, having succeeded, he said with great bitterness while he departed out of the gate of the city, “It is a sacrilege of Liberius that he said my father had been a leper and was baptized by bishop Sylvester and had been made clean, while I had been away over the four branches of the Danube and had been destroying the barbarians. When I return to the city of Rome, I will sacrifice the flesh of the birds of the skies and the beasts of the earth. Indeed, I speak only of Liberius himself, and in fact not of others, lest they affirm me to be a persecutor.” However, while he was in the Danubian War, emperor Constans was heavily weighed down.

 (6) However, when the day of Pentecost came, a reasonable number of [barbarians] of both sexes, although protesting, were forced to baptism because of the fear of persecution. However, the priest Dionysius said “Why do you not baptize near our first pope, the apostle Peter?” Damasus responded and said, “Do it!” For there was an obscure meaning to what bishop Liberius was saying, “His father built and constructed this church, and he has the power to give his father’s judgment. For water does not flow from there. Because people of both sexes want to be born again, do not delay because of me alone.” Priest Dionysius responded and said, “Let them be born again, and if they live after baptism, it is better than if they live in blood.” Damasus responded and said, “Do not be sad in your heart, o most high bishop, because I will give you the vessel of the flowing fountain.” Having been strengthened by joy in this sermon, Liberius said to him, “Come, build, and abound in the Spirit. And I, coming with the brothers, will call upon him, whom Christ sent to us, who is a shepherd to us.” And three days later, Damasus, Siricius, Innocentius, Priscus, Dionysius and the deacon Urbanus came to [the grave of] the blessed apostle Peter. For there were memorials there, and the water flowed above. Then Damasus took council with them and said, “Give me the works of mystery, that this water may be cleansed from above the corpses of men.” Then he made two shafts and emptied that place, which is to the right of the entrances into the basilica of the blessed apostle Peter. For it had a fountain there, which was not sufficient. And Damasus brought down his hand upon the fountain, and it brought forth more than had been accustomed. And he built a fountain there. And they told bishop Liberius about all of the things which had been done. And he requested all the priests and all ranks of clergy and the faithful to gather. And he said with a loud voice, “Peter is calling his sheep. Behold a man who is preserving the faith, and listening to Christ and me, a sinner. And he made a sheepfold for the sheep, and he gave sweet honey to my utterance. Because of that I rejoice, because Peter did not send the wolf to come and devastate his sheep. You know that I have preached baptism in the basilica of the apostle Peter.” And all the people received this with joy.

 (7) When the day of Pentecost drew near, Liberius gathered the monasteries and the holy community of Christians. And with gladness he came to the blessed apostle Peter. Therefore, when he entered, he gave this speech:

“O God, you who have sent your son
and have shown the creatures the Creator,
look down upon this vine
and cleanse it from thorns and briars
and let it produce its own vines in strength
and give them the fruit of truth
that one may recognize God and our Lord Jesus Christ
and the Holy Spirit,
who lives with God the Father omnipotent
from the ages, as well as now and forever”

And all the people responded “Amen!” and they entered on Pentecost Saturday. And the fountain pleased Liberius {bishop of the city}, and they cried out with praise, altogether not bitterly, but seemed sweet like honey to all. At the ninth hour he taught everyone, and from that hour until the end of Pentecost Sunday, he did not cease to baptize. For many were urged to be baptized, so that on Pentecost Sunday, they were celebrating the Sabbath mass until nearly the eighth hour. And they baptized people of both sexes totaling approximately 7,810. Many of them desired at that time to touch the clothing of bishop Liberius.

 (8) However, on a different day, which is Monday, the people heard that Constans was arriving and had indeed achieved a clear victory, and he spoke with a strange meaning: “in a stronghold in Nicomedia.” And he crossed all the way over to Nicomedia and into the villa Aquila, where he was baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia – in the same place where he turned away into the beliefs of Arianism. At the same time and in the same place he died and was buried, when Constantine was consul for the third time, and Constantius Augustus and Bassus, on the fourteenth day before the Kalends of May – and Liberius sat on the same seat of the apostle Peter for seventeen years, three months and eight days. And during this time he built an apse in Rome in the fifth region. And he rested in peace.

Translated by SMT with GLT and JCB

Last updated: 12-7-2011

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