Pope John XVIII was a major reformer and a stickler for making sure the clergy followed the rules of proper conduct. John flexed his Papal muscle during a dispute between three Bishops in France. Two Bishops refused to acknowledge Papal privileges given to the third and Pope John was not having this at all. He demanded an explanation and when the offending Bishops refused,he gave one of the most ballsy ultimatums in Church history. Either the Bishops settle their differences,or there would be no more more Church services in France. Period!(Holy Le Cow) The childish Bishops quickly backed down,on order of the King of France.
Pope John XVIII improved relations between Western and Eastern Churches,to the point of being revered in Constantinople. He is one of the few Popes to retire voluntarily and he lived out his last few years in a monastery.
Pope Benedict VII was elected as a compromise to appease both Roman nobles and German Holy Roman emperor Otto II. Benedict had a quiet Papacy that was unusually peaceful for the time,given the riots and murders that plagued the reigns of previous Popes. Benedict promoted reforms on monasteries and fought simony in the clergy and he also officially excommunicated anti-pope Boniface VII,who was still lurking in the margins,waiting for his chance to reclaim the Papacy.
A virtuous man that was elected in the midst of political chaos,very little is remembered about Pope Romanus. Besides having an awesome Pope name,he was the nephew of Pope Marinus I and was the Cardinal of St. Peter ad Vincula before he was elected to the Papacy. During his four months as Pope,the most lasting thing Romanus did was to void all the actions of his insane predecessor,Pope Stephen VI,who if you’ll remember,dug up the dead body of Pope Formosus and proceeded to scream at it.
Political pressure from the King and vocal supporters of crazy Pope Stephen managed to get Pope Romanus disposed. He “retired” to a monastery and died shortly afterwards. Probably murdered.
The former Abbot of St.Stephen’s Monastery,Paschal quickly rose through the ranks of Roman bureaucracy to become Pope. One of his first acts was to crown the new king of Italy,Lothair. King Lothair would act as an arbiter in a tax and land dispute between the Roman Curia and the Abbey of Farfa. Against the wishes of Paschal,Lothair ruled against the Papal States in the dispute. Land that was once owned by the Pope was awarded back to the Abbey. This led to revolts which then led to many suspicious murders of many of the key players in the court case. The Holy Roman emperor had to send officials to investigate what role the Pope may have played in the revolts or if the murders were some sort of cover-up,but Paschal took an oath of silence,preventing any chance of clearing any of this up. Once the investigators left Rome,Pope Paschal suddenly died. The death of Paschal was another suspicious death on top of all the others. What role Paschal actually played in any of this is not clear,but the one telling fact is that he was refused burial in St.Peter’s Basilica. Paschal was buried in the Basilica of Santa Prassede,which he himself built while he was Pope. The seemingly shady legacy of Paschal is appropriate since all art depicting the Pope includes a villainous moustache,which is a first for my Popes!
Adeodatus II was born in Rome and before becoming Pope he was a member of the Order of Saint Benedict. The Benedictines were known as the Black Monks because of the color of their habits. He was an elderly man when he was elected to the Papacy,and little is actually known of him. We do know that he was a kind man,he was generous to the poor and he helped set up rules for different monasteries. Wikipedia describes his Papacy as not contributing a large amount to society. Ouch. That’s pretty harsh Wikipedia. I’m really not sure what else to write……..the “Black Monk” seems like a cool nickname so he’s got that going for him.
Born to an extremely wealthy and powerful family,Gregory was made a prefect(a kind of governor)of Rome due to the influence of his father. He excelled at his job but once his father passed away,Gregory gave away every dime his family had and soon turned the family mansion into a monastery. He became a monk and devoted himself to an ascetic life of Christian devotion and study. His solitude was soon disturbed when Pope Benedict I came calling for his intellect and influence. Gregory was reluctantly made a deacon and brilliantly served under two Popes. With the death of Pope Pelagius, Gregory retreated back to his precious peace and quiet at his monastery. Not so fast…..the clergy of Rome knew a good thing when they saw it and unanimously elected him to the Papacy. Gregory begged them to reconsider but the Church would have none of it,and so a legendary Papacy began. He was tireless in Church reform,writings,charity and missionary work. He set in motion the re-conversion of England(after Pagans ran amok)and he helped refine the Mass which he loved so dearly. The Gregorian chant was named for him, although he had nothing to do with the music itself. He was one of three Popes referred to as “The Great”,but Gregory,being the humble monk he was at heart,preferred the title of “Servant of the Servants of God”. To emphasize what a great man Gregory was,John Calvin,a passionate Protestant pastor during the Reformation,said that Pope Gregory was “the last good Pope”. Well,we know that wasn’t the case but it’s high praise from someone who was no friend to The Catholic Church or to the Popes. Gregory the Great is a Doctor of the Church and is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers. He is recognized as a Saint in not only the Catholic Church,but also in the Eastern Orthodox Church and in some Lutheran churches! Mister the Great’s feast day is September 3rd and of course he is buried in St.Peter’s Basilica.