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Liberius [1]

ST., pope of Rome, was a native of the Eternal City. He succeeded Julius I May 22, 353. The Semi-Arians, countenanced by the emperor Constantius, had then the ascendency; and both the Council of Arles (353) and that of Milan (355) condemned Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. As Liberius, together with some other Western bishops, refused to subscribe to this condemnation, he was arrested by order of the emperor, and taken to Milan, where he held a conference with Constantius, which terminated in a sentence from the emperor deposing Liberius from his office, and banishing him to Bercea, in Thrace. Felix, a deacon at Rome, was consecrated bishop. A petition was presented to the emperor by the principal ladies of Rome in favor of Liberius, but it was not till 358 that Liberius was restored to his see. The assertion that Liberius, during his confinement at Beroea, approved in several letters of the deposition of Athanasius, and subscribed to the confession of faith drawn up by the court party at the Council of Sirmium, is a matter of great improbability, and depends chiefly upon the genuineness of his correspondence with Athanasius. The dependence of Liberius on the emperor had a mischievous influence upon many of the Italian bishops, and we need not wonder that at the Council of Rimini Arianism was openly countenanced. It is not true, as asserted by some, that Liberius subscribed the Rimini confession of faith. He ended his career in orthodoxy, and died in 366. He was succeeded by Damasus I. Liberius is said to have built the Basilica on the Esquiline Mount, which has been called Liberiana, from his name, and is now known by the name of Santa Maria Maggiore. He is commemorated in the Romish Church Aug. 27, and in the Greek Church September 23. See Gfr rer, Kirchengesch. II, 1:254- 285; Hefele, P. Liberius, in the T b. theol. Quartalschr. (1853), 2:261 sq.; and Conciliengesch. 1:626-714; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:372.