War Pope! Muslim invaders had overrun Sicily and were now running wild throughout southern Italy. In a sort of crusade prequel,Pope John X personally supervised a coalition of Christian armies from Italy and Constantinople in destroying all of the invaders and securing the Italian countryside. The victorious Pope was riding high and used his new clout to appoint his brother Peter the new Duke of Spoleto and also made gestures towards a pact with the King of Italy. Marozia,leading noblewoman of Rome and basically the ruler of the Papal States,felt threatened over this Pope’s continuing quest for power. She waited until the Pope was without his bodyguards and then marched a military force into the Lateran Palace,taking John and his brother hostage. Marozia had the Pope’s brother murdered in front of him and then exiled John to a monastery while she installed a puppet Pope that could be more easily controlled. Marozia was buying time until her own son,by earlier Pope Sergius III,was old enough to take the chair of Peter,which would happen in 931 with the “election” of John XI. Poor Pope John X was eventually smothered in his sleep with a pillow. 10 Popes to go until I reach the half-way point of my Pope countdown! Two and a half years to go until I reach Pope Francis(I’ll have a paid off Honda when I’m finished!)
Pope Sergius III was technically elected to the Papacy in 898,but the Holy Roman Emperor despised him and drove him into exile in favor of Pope John IX. Once the people involved in his exile were out of the picture,Sergius came roaring back into Rome,assisted by the military might of Duke Alberic of Spoleto. The Papacy was already in turmoil with the imprisonment of current Pope Leo V and with Anti-Pope Christopher running the show. Sergius promptly had them both strangled,just to tie up lose ends and avoid confusion as to who exactly was Pope(what a swell gesture). The government of Rome was now mostly run by the husband and wife team of Theophylact and Theodora. These two pulled the strings of Sergius,mostly by use of their equally scheming daughter,Marozia,who is reported to have given birth to the bastard son of Pope Sergius,(he would later go on to be Pope John XI….Good Lord)
Pope Benedict XVI once remarked that the Catholic Church can’t be anything but Divine,because how else could the Church have survived 2000 years in spite of attacks from the outside,and in spite of terrible behavior of Catholics(like Sergius III)
I based his image on Telly Savalas,because this Pope seems like a character that Savalas would have played in a Biblical movie from the 1960s (Also,Pope Sergius was bald…)
Pope Conon had the distinction of being the only Pope elected because he was incredibly handsome. The Pope at this time was basically in charge of the Roman army,so the soldiers now decided that they wanted a say as to who should occupy the throne of Peter. The clergy and the army went back and forth and could not come to an agreement,but then they all looked at Father Conon. He was simple,he was wise and he was Holy. He was also the son of a general. The clergy liked his holiness and the army liked the fact that he came from military blood. On top of all this is the fact that he was just an incredible presence to behold. Numerous sources talk up his appearance. This is all very weird,and it reminds me of the story of how the Continental Congress chose George Washington to lead them because he was the tallest man in the room and he looked incredible in his tailored uniform. So anyway,we have our new Pope,but there’s one thing they didn’t think through…….Pope Conon may have been the most handsome Pope ever,but he was also incredibly OLD. O-L-D old,like even old by Pope standards old. He barely lasted a year. His lasting legacy,other than his dashing good looks,was sending missionaries into Germany,at that time called Franconia. Oh if only he spelled his name with an A we could have been so close to having a Pope CONAN. Oh well,we do have a Pope Lando coming later so there’s that…..