Thursday, September 23, 2010

9th Century Popes

Stephen IV (Stephen V), Papa STEPHANUS Quartus (Quintus)
Sometimes called Stephen V
12 June 816 – 24 January 817
Stephen IV crowned and anointed Louis the Pious, successor of Charlemagne. He aligned himself with the Frankish king Louis the Pious, coronating him in October of 816 and ordering the people of Rome to swear fealty to him. This act established as tradition the idea that papal approval was necessary for a ruler to exercise full authority.

St. Paschal I, Papa PASCHALIS
25 January 817 – 11 February 824
Born in Rome
Paschal I's chief concern as pope was the relationship between the Church and Charlemagne's son and successor, Louis I the Pious. Louis was a very busy ruler, both working to expand the empire and to reform and better organize the Church. Through careful negotiations, Paschal was able to get Louis to agree to political independence of the Roman see and surrounding territories.

In 823 he crowned Louis' son Lothair I, as co-emperor - this symbolic act represented a new stage in the relationship between church and state. Through it, the pope was giving the emperor the temporal power to suppress evil and combat the worldly enemies of Christianity.

Eugene II, Papa EUGENIUS Secundus
8 May 824 – August 827
Born in Rome
Pope Eugene II was, probably more than any other pope before him, under the control of the Western Roman Emperor. Eugene even went so far as to swear an oath of allegiance to Emperor Louis and agree that all future popes should do the same. On theological matters Eugene sought to hold on to some measure of independence. He refused, for example, to agree to Louis' request that he compromise with the East on the question of iconoclasm.

Valentine, Papa VALENTINUS
August 827 – September 827
Born in Rome

Pope Valentine reigned for less than a month and therefore didn't have time to do anything of consequence. At the time popes were still elected jointly by the people of Rome, the clergy, and the nobility. Valentine was chosen unanimously, which was no small feat, but that's about all we know of him.

Gregory IV, Papa GREGORIUS Quartus
827 – January 844
Born in Rome
Gregory IV was elected largely through the support of the Roman nobility and the Western Emperor, upon whom Gregory would remain very dependent throughout his papacy. Although he had a relatively long papacy, on the whole he doesn't seem to have done much. The only thing he is really known for is his involvement in the political struggles between Emperor Louis the Pious and his son Lothair.

Sergius II, Papa SERGIUS Secundus
January 844 – 7 January 847
Born in Rome
Sergius II encountered early opposition from Emperor Lothair, but through smooth diplomatic handing he was able to crown Lothair without also being forced to swear fealty to him. Matters did not go quite so well internally because Sergius caused wide displeasure through simony, dubious administrative practices and an expensive building program. People considered him so corrupt that when Muslim pirates managed to plunder Ostia, St. Peter's and St. Paul's Cathedrals, this was widely regarded as acts of divine retribution.

St. Leo IV, O.S.B., Papa LEO Quartus
January 847 – 17 July 855
Member of the Order of Saint Benedict
Born in Rome
Pope Leo IV was embattled politically on both sides. Like his predecessor Pope Sergius II, he was under pressure from king Lothair to be submissive to the political leadership in the north but Leo was determined to assert papal independence, starting immediately by not seeking Lothair's approval to be consecrated pope.

Under the reign of Sergius II, Muslim forces invaded Italy and plundered Ostia, Rome's port city, something everyone interpreted as a sign of God's displeasure with the way things were being run. Leo IV went to great lengths to protect Rome from further incursions by building a 40-foot high wall surrounding St. Peter's and much of the Vatican, along with other fortifications and defenses for the city. The fortifications around the Vatican came to be known as the "Leonine City." He also organized a large military alliance among various Greek and Italian cities, launching an attack upon the Muslims as they gathered outside of Ostia in preparation for an attack on Rome.

Benedict III, Papa BENEDICTUS Tertius
855 – 7 April 858
Born in Rome
Pope Benedict III was almost immediately embroiled in conflict with king Lothair who insisted on retaining the right to give approval to the election of any new pope but like his predecessors, Benedict was determined to assert the independence of the papacy and deny Lothair that right. As a consequence Lothair appointed an antipope, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, but popular support was firmly behind Benedict and this conflict did not last long. It did however help firmly establish the split between church and state allowing the church and the papacy to become ever freer from political control.

In some of the medieval accounts the actual successor to Leo IV was not Benedict III but Pope Joan, a woman who allegedly ascended to the papal throne without anyone realizing her true gender. Going under the name Pope John Anglicus, he is believed by some to have reigned for two years, seven months and four days. Her true identity was only revealed when she gave birth to a child while riding in a procession between St. Peter's Cathedral and the Lateran Palace. Or so the story goes…

St. Nicholas I, Nicholas the Great, Papa NICOLAUS MAGNUS
24 April 858 – 13 November 867
Born in Rome

Adrian II, Papa HADRIANUS Secundus
14 December 867 – 14 December 872
Born in Rome
Adrian II is generally considered to have been a very weak pope, throwing away many of the political gains achieved by his predecessors. The most important thing which occurred during his papacy was the Fourth Council of Constantinople which decided that in matters of religious authority Constantinople came second to Rome.

John VIII, Papa IOANNES Octavus
14 December 872 – 16 December 882
Born in Rome
Pope John VIII's reign was characterized by political intrigue and many believe that he was murdered by conspirators involved in a plot of local politics.

Marinus I, Papa MARINUS
16 December 882 – 15 May 884
Born in Gallese, Rome
Marinus I was a long time servant of the papal throne and had been employed by his three predecessors as an envoy to Constantinople in order to ease relations which had been strained over the controversy surrounding Photius, patriarch of Constantinople. His diplomatic skills were carried over when he himself was elected pope and Marinus endeavored to avoid causing offense.

One controversy about his papacy was the fact that, when elected bishop of Rome, he was already bishop of another diocese. This was in violation of the rules set down by the First Nicea Council.

St. Adrian III, Papa HADRIANUS Tertius
17 May 884 – c. September 885
Born in Rome
Not much is known about Pope Adrian III except that his pontificate was apparently characterized by violence and that he himself may have been murdered. Curiously, he was apparently a strong supporter of Pope John VIII, one of the few other popes to have been assassinated as well.

Stephen V (Stephen VI), Papa STEPHANUS Quintus (Sextus)
885 – 14 September 891
Sometimes called Stephen VI
Born in Rome
Church and state were further intertwined during the reign of Stephen V, the first pope to ever anoint an emperor: Louis the Pious. In the past imperial approval had been necessary for church leaders to exercise their power, but this act represented an important shift. Louis and Stephen appear to have started on a close working relationship, but Stephen died shortly after crowning Louis so not much came of it.

Formosus, Papa FORMOSUS
19 September 891 – 4 April 896
Born in Ostia
Posthumously ritually executed following the Cadaver Synod
Pope Formosus (whose name means "good looking") was unusually controversial although many of the problems occurred after his death. Six months after he died his successor Stephen VI had his body dug up and put on trial. Found guilty, it was stripped of the papal vestments and the fingers used by Formosus to bless others were removed. The body was dragged through the streets and dumped in the Tiber River. Pope Sergius III later confirmed the decisions reached by this "Cadaver Synod" but Pope John XI reinstated Formosus about 40 years after his posthumous deposition.

Boniface VI, Papa BONIFACIUS Sextus
4 April 896 – 19 April 896
Born in Rome
A rather shady individual, Pope Boniface VI was defrocked twice by Pope John VIII (himself rather unsavory) for immorality, the first and only pope to have gone through that. He was elected quickly after Formosus died and he himself died almost as quickly. A synod in 898 deplored his election and ordered that nothing like that ever happen again.

Stephen VI (Stephen VII), Papa STEPHANUS Sextus (Septimus)
22 May 896 – August 897
Sometimes called Stephen VII
Stephen was elected unanimously but emperor Charles had not been consulted. As a result Stephen faced the very real possibility of being deposed. Fortunately for him, Charlemagne's empire was falling apart and Charles was in no position to do anything about Stephen. Once Charles died Stephen tried to rely on the support of various weak princes to protect Rome. But they proved too unreliable so Stephen turned to Constantinople for help, especially once the Saracen raids increased.

When it came to internal church matters, Stephen made the fatal mistake of forbidding the Slavs to use a Slavonic liturgy during their services. This infuriated them and as a result they were driven towards the Eastern Church and Eastern Orthodox Christianity rather than Western Roman Catholicism.

Romanus, Papa ROMANUS
August 897 – November 897
Born in Gallese, Rome
Almost nothing is known about Pope Romanus. Unlike Pope Stephen VII, he was a supporter of Pope Formosus but Romanus doesn't seem to have done much of anything in defense of him.

Theodore II, Papa THEODORUS Secundus
December 897
Born in Rome
The exact length of the reign of Pope Theodore II is uncertain but we do know that he didn't last out the month of November of 897. Although he wasn't in office long he did manage to convene a synod to condemn the Cadaver Synod held earlier in the year. At that time the corpse of Pope Formosus had been dug up and put on trial but Theodore had Formosus rehabilitated. The body was dug up yet again from the private grave it was in, clothed in papal vestments and reburied again in its original grave located in St. Peter's.

John IX, O.S.B., Papa IOANNES Nonus
January 898 – January 900
Born in Tivoli, Italy
Member of the Order of Saint Benedict
The papacy of John IX was taken up largely by the conflicts over the late Pope Formosus. John IX was a supporter of Formosus and worked hard to rehabilitate his reputation and revalidate his acts. He nullified the Cadaver Synod of 897, a serious point of contention.

Benedict IV, Papa BENEDICTUS Quartus
900 – 903
Born in Rome
Not much is known about the reign of Pope Benedict IV. Rome continued to be divided by conflicts over the late Pope Formosus and few records remain of this time period. Benedict appears to have been a supporter of Formosus but not much more than that is known. Some reports suggest that he was murdered, but this isn't clear.

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