There should be a revival of interest in Dom John Chapman, the early 20th century abbot of Downside, patrologist and Church historian. As far as I can see, he was at least as learned as Adrian Fortescue, and without Fortescue’s occasional slapdashness. He could be almost as witty as him, too, when he chose.

Chapman’s Studies on the Early Papacy, though having an apologetical inspiration, particularly against Puseyism, is a little masterpiece of scholarship. In the chapter on ‘The Age of Justinian’, he describes the unfortunate pope Vigilius. Vigilius was popularly supposed to be in cahoots with the monophysite Empress Theodora, and to have been responsible for the early death of his predecessor Silverius. The Roman people called on the emperor to investigate. Justinian, not one to fall short of his own prerogatives, or indeed to be reluctant to overstep them, acquiesced for his own purposes:

Justinian ordered Vigilius to be brought to Constantinople. He was seized in the Church of St Cecilia and put on board a ship. The crowd asked his blessing, to which they cried ‘Amen’. Then they pelted him with stones and sticks and crockery, shouting: ‘Thy famine be with thee: thy plague be with thee: thou hast done evil to the Romans. Mayest thou find evil where thou goest’ (‘Studies on the Early Papacy’, 1928, p.229).