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History’s Craziest Popes
All That Is Interesting ^ | August 21, 2012 | Unknown

Posted on 08/30/2012 10:00:19 AM PDT by jacknhoo

Pope Formosus (891-896)

While Formosus’ pontifical reign is noted more for its brevity than its breadth, it’s the absolute insanity that defined his afterlife that makes him one of the world’s craziest popes. A year following his death, the rather batty Pope Stephen VI ordered Formosus’ desiccated body to be exhumed and put on trial. Known as the Cadaver Synod, Formosus’ corpse was dressed in papal vestments and convicted accordingly.In the ruling, it was declared that Formosus was unworthy of the pontificate, and all acts and measures made under his papacy were declared null and void. Such was the case for three of his fingers, as they had been used in various “illegitimate” consecrations. So loathsome was Formosus’ body that clerics had it thrust into the River Tiber, only to be exhumed later by a monk and put onto trial–again–by Sergius III. This time, Formosus’ punishment was a beheading.

Pope Sergius III (904-911)

Beyond ordering the second Cadaver Synod on hapless Pope Formosus, Sergius III is best known for being the harbinger of harlots, transforming the papacy into what many historians dub the ‘pornacracy’, and ordering the murder of at least one of his papal predecessors. In 904, it’s reported that the power-lusting Sergius ordered the strangulation murder of Antipope Christopher and Pope Leo V, though the historical validity of the latter is still shrouded in a bit of a mystery.

In between his bouts of bloodsport, Sergius still found time for love with his 15-year-old mistress Marozia. This tryst resulted in the birth of their illegitimate son, future Pope John XI. And with the exorbitant amount of power Marozia and her mother Theodora had on Sergius, some believed that the papal post became little more than a whorehouse.

Pope Sergius III (904-911)

At a mere 18 years old upon his introduction to the papacy, Pope John XII treated his position with a similar level of maturity. Known to have converted the Lateran Palace into a brothel, raped female pilgrims in St. Peter’s Basilica and to have just slept with a lot of women in general, John XII gives a new, somewhat sinister definition to a youthful libido.

Pope John XII (955-964)

But the pontifical party didn’t stop there; John XII was known to have invoked pagan gods when playing dice, made toasts with the devil and to have maimed and mutilated those who opposed him. Historians speculate that it was John’s philandering ways that contributed to his demise. In 964, some report that he was beaten by the spouse of a woman with whom John was sleeping. Three days later, and without confession, John XII died.

Alexander VI (1492-1503)

An emblem of perhaps the lowest point for the papacy, Alexander VI (of Borgia fame) literally bought and forced his way into clerical office. Speculated to have a strange, borderline incestuous relationship with his daughter, Lucrezia, Alexander VI is reported to have fathered at least seven illegitimate children, many of whom he supported with church endowments.

Indiscriminate with his and the church’s money, when funds ran low Alexander would up the number of cardinals in exchange for money and implement outlandish and false charges on the wealthy. Typically, he’d have them jailed or murdered (whichever was easiest for allocating funds), all while stealing their money. The craziest aspect of Alex, though, was how the de Medicis–also known for their unscrupulous behavior–described him. Said one upon Alexander’s entrance: “Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all.”

Stephen VI (896-897)

A lot can happen in a year, especially when an individual has quite a bit of power. To illustrate that, one needs not look much further than Pope Stephen VI. A Roman of the powerful Spoleto family, Stephen’s papacy peaked with the macabre Cadaver Synod and ended with his imprisonment and strangulation a mere seven months later. Compelled either by his mother, Algetruda, or Emperor Lambert, Stephen commanded a Cadaver Synod to an unwilling Roman clergy regarding Pope Formosus.

Inextricable from the politics that defined the papacy during that time, the pontificate tried Formosus for perjury and remaining a bishop after being deposed, among other things. As expected, the hyperbolic event and Stephen’s frankly bizarre punishment of a corpse that January caused quite a fatal stir. After being imprisoned for several months, Stephen’s short reign as an impious pope ended with asphyxiation.

Benedict IX (1032-1044, 1045, 1047-1048)

When one is described by a saint as a “a demon from hell in disguise of a priest,” it is fairly obvious that this individual didn’t lead the most savory of lives. This can readily be said about Pope Benedict IX, who is primarily remembered today for being the only man to have served the papacy for three discontinuous periods and to have actually sold his office. Somewhat analogous to a nagging cough, Benedict’s persistent uncertainty regarding his pontifical post inspired the ire of many.

First leaving his position in 1044 for money, Benedict return to reign for a month in 1045, only to sell his office again (to his Godfather) possibly in order to marry his cousin. His final resurgence to the papacy was met with much adversity, as Benedict was eventually forced out of Rome. His stints in power were rather seedy, seeing as Benedict was accused of rape, adultery, routine homosexuality and bestiality. Said Pope Victor III, “His life as a pope was so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.”


TOPICS: History; Humor; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: cadaversynod; catholic; humor; popes; truth
Pictures at the link...
1 posted on 08/30/2012 10:00:23 AM PDT by jacknhoo
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To: jacknhoo

ping


2 posted on 08/30/2012 10:09:15 AM PDT by razorback-bert (I'm in shape. Round is a shape isn't it?)
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To: jacknhoo

Almost none of this is true, and was debunked more than a century ago.


3 posted on 08/30/2012 10:24:29 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: jacknhoo

That sounds like the title of a show on Spike TV.


4 posted on 08/30/2012 10:28:02 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: wideawake

Name your source. A lot of this comes from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Perhaps the most grave sin of these popes is that their corruption indirectly led to the rise and spread of Islam and an attractive alternative.


5 posted on 08/30/2012 10:33:54 AM PDT by jimmygrace
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To: jacknhoo
Pope Formosus
Pope Stephen VI
Pope Sergius III
Antipope Christopher and Pope Leo V
Pope John XI
Pope John XII
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Benedict IX

Ping for later

6 posted on 08/30/2012 10:35:45 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: jacknhoo
To be more specific, much of these stories involving the Popes named between the years 800 and 950 can be traced to a single source: Liudprand of Cremona.

Liudprand of Cremona was born after most of these alleged events occurred and was not in Rome when the ones that supposedly happened while he was alive occurred.

Why did Liudprand write all this stuff? For two reasons: (1) he felt that he was passed over for important jobs by the relatives of the families from which these Popes came and (2) he spent his adult life working for the imperial house of Germany, who were locked in an ongoing power struggle with the Popes during this period.

Liudprand was, in modern terms, a spin doctor for the Imperial party.

I will also note that Alexander VI - who was definitely not a good Pope - is described in the terms of the de Medici family. Alexander VI was a Borgia, a family to whom the de Medicis were sworn enemies. So the de mEdicis are not a disinterested source of information.

The closest to verifiable of the stories here is that regarding Benedict IX, which is still exaggerated. His antics were the reason why the Cluniac Reform occurred.

7 posted on 08/30/2012 10:36:42 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: jimmygrace
Name your source.

My point is that there is no crdible source for almost of all these stories. There is no historically reliable biography for most of these men - as I pointed out in my previous post, these stories all derive from one very biased source who had no personal knowledge of the circumstances.

A lot of this comes from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

The Catholic Encyclopedia account of Formosus - to take just one example - gives a much more detailed account with the real historical context. That being said, the Encyclopedia was written over a century ago and we know a lot more about Carolingian-era Rome today than we knew then.

Perhaps the most grave sin of these popes is that their corruption indirectly led to the rise and spread of Islam

How so?

8 posted on 08/30/2012 10:43:16 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: jimmygrace
A lot of this comes from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Not enough of it... much is directly contradicted by the same source. Not that there weren't problems with many of these guys... but the history above was written by their political and pontifical opponents.

I encourage anyone interested to not read the "Jerry Springer" summaries above but read directly from source material:

Formosus
Sergius III
John XI (not John XII as shown above)
Alexander VI
Stephen VI
Benedict IX

9 posted on 08/30/2012 10:54:27 AM PDT by pgyanke (Republicans get in trouble when not living up to their principles. Democrats... when they do.)
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To: jimmygrace
Sergius still found time for love with his 15-year-old mistress Marozia. This tryst resulted in the birth of their illegitimate son, future Pope John XI.

Let's correct the errors and give some context to this example.

John XI was born in 910 and Marozia (actually spelled "Mariucchia) was born in 890. She was indeed the mother of John XI, but at the age of 20, not 15, and by her husband Duke Alberic not by Sergius.

Who was Marozia? She was not only the wife of Duke Alberic of Spoleto but also the granddaughter of Duke Theophylact of Tusculum.

The man who alleged that she was an adulteress who slept with a Pope and gave birth to a bastard who became Pope was Liudprand of Cremona. Liudprand was a nobleman as well as a bishop and he served as counselor to Berengar II, the Marquess of Ivrea.

Why is this important?

Theophylact and Alberic were supporters of Louis of France and his descendants and opposed the Dukes of Saxony. These were two of the main factions struggling to control Charlemagne's empire.

Berengar II became King of Italy and supported the Dukes of Saxony for the imperial throne.

Liudprand was an employee of Berengar and later of Otto I Duke of Saxony who became the German Emperor.

If things had gone according to Liudprand's plans, he would have been Pope - but the Dukes of Italy resisted the Emperor and instead of Liudprand becoming Pope, a number of men he beleived inferior to himself and allied with his political enemies became Pope instead.

Hence his desire to discredit and and humiliate his successful rivals.

10 posted on 08/30/2012 11:03:54 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: jimmygrace

You wrote:

“Perhaps the most grave sin of these popes is that their corruption indirectly led to the rise and spread of Islam and an attractive alternative.”

That’s a completely bogus claim. 1) Islam arose on its own in a pagan area not a Catholic one. 2) Islam spread by the sword. Those who “voluntarily” converted did so for financial and legal reasons not because of anything any pope did. If papal corruption led to conversions to Islam, then the most conversions would have been in Catholic Europe from the 14th to the 16th century. That is clear not the case.


11 posted on 08/30/2012 11:04:43 AM PDT by vladimir998
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To: wideawake
Nice spin, but Liudprand of Cremona died in 972, and Popes that came after him were just as bad.

Bendict IX, Anacletus, Boniface VII, Clement VI, John XXIIIv1.0, Julius III. - just to ht the high notes.

It's all down to Emperor Justinian. After he destroyed the Ostrogithic Kingdom, there was a power vacumn in central Italy and it became a Land without Law for a millenium with the various crime families fighting over the spoils, which included the Roman Church.

12 posted on 08/30/2012 11:09:04 AM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all - Aristotle)
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To: jacknhoo

What, no “ecumenical caucus” label on this thread?


13 posted on 08/30/2012 11:12:59 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Oztrich Boy
Nice spin, but Liudprand of Cremona died in 972, and Popes that came after him were just as bad.

It's not spin at all.

Liudprand's sympathies are very clear.

Bendict IX

Benedict IX came after Liudprand, as I stated. He was the one who caused the Cluniac Reform due to his behavior.

Anacletus

Was a saint, of whom nothing bad has been said.

Clement VI

Didn't do anything egregious or impressive.

John XXIIIv1.0

Was not a Pope.

Julius III

Another ineffective administrator, and one who was the victim of unproven rumors.

It's all down to Emperor Justinian. After he destroyed the Ostrogithic Kingdom, there was a power vacumn in central Italy and it became a Land without Law for a millenium with the various crime families fighting over the spoils, which included the Roman Church.

That's a bit of an exaggeration. There was a power vacuum from 650-800, and again from 870-1070.

After that period, either France, the Emperor or the Papacy was able to assert authority in central Italy.

There's a reason why the area prospered so much from 1100 on.

14 posted on 08/30/2012 11:25:51 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: wideawake
Anacletus Was a saint, of whom nothing bad has been said.

Sorry, Anacletus II, elected 1130.

15 posted on 08/30/2012 11:42:09 AM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all - Aristotle)
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To: theKid51

ping


16 posted on 08/30/2012 11:43:34 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Corollary - Electing the same person over and over and expecting a different outcome is insanity)
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To: jacknhoo; SunkenCiv

Uncertain ping.... I like just about ALL history, but I wasn’t certain if this was old enough for the list : /

Blessings without number.
Tatt


17 posted on 08/30/2012 11:44:24 AM PDT by thesearethetimes... ("Courage, is fear that has said its prayers." Dorothy Bernard)
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To: Oztrich Boy

Also not a Pope.


18 posted on 08/30/2012 12:03:28 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: pgyanke

“”I encourage anyone interested to not read the “Jerry Springer” summaries above but read directly from source material:””

That is what I like to do with articles such as this. Never believe only one side/version of a story, especially the more outrageous it is!

There are always at LEAST two sides, and usually more : o

That being said, there were some atrociously bad popes, and their actions still influence some peoples opinions of today’s Church.

May God bless.
Tatt


19 posted on 08/30/2012 12:06:50 PM PDT by thesearethetimes... ("Courage, is fear that has said its prayers." Dorothy Bernard)
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To: thesearethetimes...
there were some atrociously bad popes

Correct.

But the ones who were bad were bad largely because they operated as ruthless administrators of their lands and their political clout - not because they were they were debauched purveyors of moral turpitude.

The goal of the slanderers is to provoke a visceral, emotional reaction - hence the allegations of sexual misconduct and/or secret atheism/paganism.

The bad things they actually did are far less exciting: matters of political maneuvering and financial malfeasance.

And the purveyors of the exciting material can't do much with that because the ideological position they represent (either atheism or Protestantism) is full of leaders whose lives don't bear very much scrutiny when examined - Voltaire, Marx, Sanger, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, etc. were not above intrigue and accumulating power/money.

20 posted on 08/30/2012 12:33:39 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: wideawake

The more one learns of Calvin the more disturbing he becomes. The man strikes me as a totalitarian sadist. The Michael Servutus case being the foremost example.


21 posted on 08/30/2012 12:44:41 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
The man strikes me as a totalitarian sadist.

He was brilliant. He routinely reminded everyone of his humility and his reluctance to wield power, all the while carefully transforming Geneva, step by step, from a republic to a dictatorship where he held total and complete power.

22 posted on 08/30/2012 1:28:19 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: wideawake

I don’t know - to me the ruthless administration of the land, financial malfeasance and political maneuvering were/are still crime enough, in light of their station.

It is not much different than my frustration with the political class we are struggling to unseat today. I see any “representative” who is supposed to be (but is decidedly NOT) upholding the principles that our Founder’s fought and died for to be more contemptible than, any who, while still a patriot, may succumb instead, to other sins.

Possibly, because even though I am not Catholic, I do still hold the Church in high regard - so for a pope, (or worse, several in succession!) who is regarded as St. Peter’s successor, to exhibit greed, deception and unbridled pride are plenty bad enough for me, lol.

Thanks much for your replies, to me, and to others, because I have been provided with even more information to follow up on, which is my favorite way to start working on learning something new ; )

May God keep watch, FRiend.
Tatt


23 posted on 08/30/2012 1:51:13 PM PDT by thesearethetimes... ("Courage, is fear that has said its prayers." Dorothy Bernard)
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To: thesearethetimes...
I don’t know - to me the ruthless administration of the land, financial malfeasance and political maneuvering were/are still crime enough, in light of their station.

Which is why they were bad Popes. My point is, I guess, is that if someone is a thief or a liar or a bully then they should be called out for theft, deception and bullying - instead of being accused of murders and rapes and piracy on the high seas instead.

so for a pope, (or worse, several in succession!) who is regarded as St. Peter’s successor, to exhibit greed, deception and unbridled pride are plenty bad enough for me

I agree, but since He brings good out of evil, I think the good that He has brought out of their evil is to remind us that even Popes are mere men and that the value is in the office and not in its holders.

Much like the Founders upheld the principle that good governments are founded not on fickle men but on just laws.

24 posted on 08/30/2012 2:19:01 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: wideawake

Got it :) Thank you for your clarification on the article, and at the risk of heading down another road, right before the convention gets back under way - my whole point of view on “bad popes” is further muddied by the idea that in order to be a bad pope, other people had to be party to his getting in office, AND to his STAYING : /

Sometimes discussions like this really pinpoint my thoughts about what it means to me to be an American, and how differently we view the world...growing up in a nation where, for most of our history, we truly aspired to be a nation of laws, and because of that, there were few places where evil openly ruled over anyone, any community, or any industry - because people truly believed in the protection of the rule of law. People believed if they could expose that evil, that it would not be allowed to continue.

I pray that Condi was right last night. I pray that we will return to our foundations, to once again become a nation where your success is not determined by who you are, or where you are from, but by who you strive to be, and where you want to go.

Thanks again FRiend, and may God bless you and yours, and may He guide this nation.
Tatt


25 posted on 08/30/2012 5:08:58 PM PDT by thesearethetimes... ("Courage, is fear that has said its prayers." Dorothy Bernard)
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To: jacknhoo
before I believed what someone said about the "dark ages", I'd check where the story came from...lots of "black legends" made up by the reformers of various sorts (both catholic and protestant) about those days, and most of these legends weren't written down until 300 to 600 years later.

It's sort of like saying the legends of King Arthur (500 ad) were true because Geoffrey of Monmonth said they were, a couple hundred year later. True he based his stories on "evidence" which he conveniently lost or couldn't find, nor has anyone else found since then. Same here...

A better source would be the teaching company's article on the papacy link.

26 posted on 08/30/2012 8:08:27 PM PDT by LadyDoc
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To: jimmygrace

these bad popes led to the spread of Islam? Sorry, that’s nonsense. If that were true, Islam would have conquered western Europe or Italy.

There is a better argument that because the Popes took over the civil administration of Italy that they saved western Europe from Islam...

The Spread of Islam was in areas ruled by Constantinople, not Rome. Now, if you want to blame the ex hooker Theodora and her spouse, fine, but not the popes, who didn’t have a lot of influence in that area.


27 posted on 08/30/2012 8:13:19 PM PDT by LadyDoc
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To: jacknhoo

Infallible, every one !


28 posted on 08/30/2012 8:29:11 PM PDT by Delta 21 (Oh Crap !! Did I say that out loud ??!??)
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To: thesearethetimes...

I’ll have to look this over carefully...


29 posted on 08/30/2012 9:35:37 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: thesearethetimes...
I don’t know - to me the ruthless administration of the land, financial malfeasance and political maneuvering were/are still crime enough, in light of their station.

Immediately after conferring St Peter's station, Jesus rebuked him with "Get behind Me, Satan!" Contrary to popular belief, the Popes are not infallible in every utterance but only under certain, very particular, circumstances. Otherwise, they are men with a special office and commission. They sin and confess their sins as we all do.

Just because some sins are more public and scandalous than others doesn't make them greater sins in the economy of salvation.

God bless.

30 posted on 08/31/2012 4:32:10 AM PDT by pgyanke (Republicans get in trouble when not living up to their principles. Democrats... when they do.)
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