153. Pope Victor II 1055-1057

Pope Victor II

Pope Victor II was the next in line of the reforming Popes. Victor II took his name from Victor I,who was our first African Pope. Often times when a new Pope is elected,they choose a name to let the world what kind of tone their Papacy will take. Victor II, and his successors,Pope Damasus II and Leo IX,each choose their retro Pope names to call back to the early days of the office when more virtuous men were in the chair of Peter. The most interesting thing about Pope Victor II was that when he passed away,his body was being transported back to Germany for burial but it only made it as far as Ravenna,Italy. That’s where a mob of heavily armed people forcibly took Victor’s body and buried in their local Church. Very strange. Huge fans of Pope Victor? Maybe hunting a local economy boost from Pilgrims that want to see a Pope’s tomb? Probably the latter. His body is still there,at The Church of Santa Maria Rotunda. All the more strange considering the next Pope named Victor(Victor III,1086-1087),would also have burial troubles as his dead body moved from Church to Church to Church until finally finding rest as late as 1963.

152. Pope Saint Leo IX 1049-1054

Pope Leo IX

Pope Saint Leo IX was a strict reformer and one of our warrior Popes,leading armies against the Normans in southern Italy. He began his career as a reforming Bishop in Germany and was handpicked by Emperor Henry III to be the new Pope. Being a stickler for rules,Leo only accepted his new position if the clergy and people of Rome actually wanted him(they did). Leo set about reforming the Papacy(and the Universal Church)in many ways,combating simony(disposing Bishops elected by bribery),fixing the Vatican’s finances and condemning priests that were not celibate. Leo took his reforms on the road and traveled to Churches in other parts of Italy,Germany and France to make sure every one was on the same page in this effort to clean up the Church.
The Eastern Church begged Leo to help with Norman(Vikings!)invaders in Southern Italy(which was under their jurisdiction),so Leo himself led a ragtag Papal army south to rid the area of the invaders. The leader of the Normans was horrified that he would have to fight,and possibly kill,the Pope,so he tried every effort to compromise but to no avail. The Pope’s army was crushed(because…Vikings!)and Leo was taken prisoner. The respectful Normans apologized to him probably everyday for the next nine months that he was their captive. Leo passed away shortly after being released in 1054. For his moral character and his efforts for reform,he was Canonized in 1082. His feast day is April 19,which is the same day my family and I were baptized and joined the Catholic Church!

151. Pope Damasus II 1048

Pope Damasus

Pope Damasus II has the 7th shortest time as Pontiff,only reigning for 24 days. Pope Damasus also has one of the greatest real names for any Pope;Poppo de’ Curagnoni! POPPO! You gotta say that name with dramatic Italian hand gestures(even though Poppo was actually German). Handpicked by German Holy Roman Emperor Henry III,Damasus was briefly held up on his way to Rome by that pesky disposed Pope(and troublemaker),Benedict IX. Benedict kept leaving and returning to Rome,and this time he was marched,by military force on orders from the emperor,out of Rome for good so Pope Damasus could take his rightful place. It was mid-July by this point and Rome happened to be under an awful heat wave. The elderly Damasus contracted malaria and passed away shortly after.
Filling in on art duties this week is my 10 year old son Brody,and I think he did a great job! My lazy butt will return to drawing Popes next week.