Faith History

Habemus Papam (Pope Benedict XVI and the Popes Benedict)

Pope Benedict I,” “Pope Benedict II,” … , “Pope Benedict XV,” Wikipedia, 19 April 2005,,, … ,

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI. But who were the old Popes Benedict?

On the papacy of the last Benedict, the Fifteenth. Benedict XV was noted as a moderate between modernists and traditionalists, and his devotion to an early peace in World War I

His pontificate was dominated by the war and its turbulent aftermath. He organised significant humanitarian efforts (establishing a Vatican bureau, for instance, to help prisoners of war from all nations contact their families) and made many unsuccessful attempts to negotiate peace. The best known was the Papal Peace proposal of 1917, but both sides saw him as biased in favour of the other and were unwilling to accept the terms he proposed. This resentment resulted in the exclusion of the Vatican from the negotations that brought about the war’s end; despite this, he wrote an encyclical pleading for international reconciliation, Pacem Dei munus. In the post-war period Benedict was involved in developing the Church administration to deal with the new international system that had emerged.

In internal Church affairs, Benedict calmed the excesses of the campaign against supposedly modernist scholars within the Church that had characterised the reign of St. Pius X. He also promulgated a new Code of Canon Law in 1917 and attempted to improve relations with the anticlerical Republican government of France by canonising the French national heroine Joan of Arc. In the mission territories of the Third World, he emphasised the necessity of training native priests to replace the European missionaries as soon as possible.

Hopefully, better than Benedict XIV, who substantially harmed the Church in China centuries ago

Perhaps the most important act of his pontificate was the promulgation of his famous laws about missions in the two bulls, Ex quo singulari and Omnium solicitudinum. In these bulls he denounced the custom of accommodating Christian words and usages to express non-Christian ideas and practices of the native cultures, which had been extensively done by the Jesuits in their Indian and Chinese missions. An example of this is the statues of the ancestors – is honor paid to the ancestors to be considered the unacceptable ‘ancestor worship’ or something more like the Catholic veneration of the saints – and can a Catholic legitimately ‘venerate’ an ancestor known to not have been a Christian? The choice of a Chinese translation for the name of God had also been debated since the early 1600s.

The thirteen was best known for his superstition, and attempting to call himself the Fourteenth. He also shaped up amoral priests

Benedict XIII, born Pietro Francesco Orsini, and later in religion Vincenzo Maria Orsini (Gravina di Puglia, February 2, 1649 – March 2, 1730) was pope from 1724 to 1730. He succeeded Innocent XIII in 1724. At first, he called himself Benedict XIV (due to the superstition alleging that the number thirteen brings bad luck), but afterwards altered the title. He was a reforming pope and endeavoured to put a stop to the decadent lifestyles of the Italian priesthood and of the cardinalate. He was a member of the great Orsini family of Rome, and the last member of that family to become Pope.

The twelth also fought for peace, but was a noted intellectual (like Ratzinger) — he even debated William of Occam (of Occam’s Razor fame)!

He succeeded Pope John XXII as Pope in 1334, but did not carry out the policy of his predecessor. He practically made peace with the Emperor Louis, and as far as possible came to terms with the Franciscans, who were then at odds with the Roman see.

He was a reforming pope, and tried to curb the luxury of the monastic orders, but without much success. He also ordered the construction on the Palais des Papes in Avignon. He spent most of his time working on questions of theology, he rejected many of the ideas developed by John XXII and campaign against the Immaculate Conception. He engaged in long theological debates with other noted figures of the age such as William of Ockham and Meister Eckhart.

The eleventh was the last pope before the Babylonian Captivity but was quickly poisoned by the francophones

After a brief pontificate of eight months, Benedict died suddenly at Perugia. It was suspected, not altogether without reason, that his sudden death was caused by poisoning through the agency of Nogaret. Benedict’s successor, Clement V, and the popes who succeeded him were completely under the influence of the kings of France, and removed the Papal seat from Rome to Avignon, sometimes known as the Babylonian Captivity.

Benedict X was never truly elected and died in prison. Heh.

Nicholas II proceeded towards Rome, along the way holding a synod at Sutri, where he pronounced Benedict X deposed and excommunicated. The supporters of Nicholas II then gained control of Rome, and forced Benedict X to flee to the castle of Gerard of Galeria. Having arrived in Rome, Nicholas II then proceeded to wage war against Benedict X and his supporters, with Norman assistance. An initial battle was fought in Campagna in early 1059, which was not wholly successful for Nicholas II; but later that same year, his forces conquered Praeneste, Tusculum and Numentanum, and then attacked Galeria, forcing Benedict X to surrender and renounce the Papacy.

Benedict X was then allowed to go free, and he retired to one of his family estates; but Hildebrand then had him imprisoned in 1060 in the hospice of St. Agnese, where he died, still a prisoner, sometime around 1073 or 1080.

The Ninth was younger than 20 when elected, quit to get married, and tried to get the Papacy back.

Benedict IX, n̩ Theophylactus (c. 1012 Рmaybe 1055, 1065, or 1085) was pope from 1032 to 1045. The son of Alberich III, count of Tusculum, Benedict was nephew of Pope Benedict VIII and Pope John XIX. His father obtained the Papal chair for him, granting it to his son in October 1032.

It has been stated that Benedict was no older than twelve when made pontiff. Some sources even claim eleven. If this were true, then he would be the youngest pope ever. But the Catholic Encyclopedia [1] ( and other sources claim that he was around 18 to 20 years old. Since his precise date of birth is unknown, we can say with certainty only that he must have been one of the youngest popes.

Benedict was entirely unsuited to be pontiff; he reportedly led an extremely dissolute life, although in terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. He was briefly forced out of Rome in 1036 and needed the support of Emperor Conrad II to return. In January 1044 he was forced from the city again and replaced by Silvester III, sometimes considered an antipope. Benedict’s forces returned in April and expelled his rival. Benedict then resigned in June possibly desiring to marry, selling his office to Priest John Gratian, his godfather (possibly for over 650 kg of gold). Gratian became Pope Gregory VI in May, 1045. Benedict apparently soon regretted the sale and returned to try to depose Gregory; Silvester also re-emerged to make his claim.

Benedict retook Rome and remained on the throne until July 1046. King Henry III intervened and at the Council of Sutri in December 1046 Benedict and Silvester were deprived of their offices and Gregory was encouraged to resign, Benedict did not actually attend. The German Bishop Suidger was crowned Pope Clement II. Benedict rejected this and when Clement II died in October 1047 he seized the Lateran Palace in November, but was driven away in July 1048 and Poppo of Brixen as Damasus II finally succeeded Clement. Benedict refused to appear on charges of simony in 1049 and was excommunicated.

Benedict’s fate is obscure, he may have given up and resigned the pontificate, dying around 1065 in the Abbey of Grottaferrata. Other sources say he died in 1085. Pope Leo IX may have lifted the ban on him. Another report is that he continued to seek support for a return but died in January 1055 or 1056.

The Eighth oversaw the loss of Italian lands to Norman and Arab settlers.

Benedict VIII, né Theophylactus (died April 9, 1024), pope (1012-1024), of the noble family of the counts of Tusculum, descended from Theophylact, Count of Tusculum like his predecessor Benedict VI, was opposed by an antipope Gregory, who compelled him to flee from Rome. He was restored by Henry II of Germany, whom he crowned emperor in 1014. In his pontificate the Saracens renewed their attacks on the southern coasts of Europe, and effected a settlement in Sardinia. The Normans also then began to settle in Italy.

The Seventh did nothing of note. He replaced an anti-Pope, governed quietly, and took care of business in an inoffensive manner.

The Sixth was murdered, just like the XIth and maybe some others.

Benedict VI, Pope (972 – 974), was chosen with great ceremony and installed pope under the protection of the Emperor Otto the Great. On the death of the emperor the turbulent citizens of Rome renewed their outrages, and the pope himself was strangled by order of Crescentius, the son of the notorious Theodora.

Benedict V was fired.

Benedict V (died July 4, 965), Pope (22 May 964 – 23 June 964), was elected by the Romans on the death of John XII. However the Roman emperor Otto I did not approve of the choice, had him deposed after only a month, and the ex-pope was carried off to Hamburg where he became a deacon, dying in July 965.

At the synod which deposed him the pastoral staff was broken over him by Leo VIII; this is the first mention of the papal sceptre.

The Fourth was involved in a post-mortem trial of another Pope. heh

Benedict IV was pope from c. 900-903. He was the son of Mammalus, a native of Rome. The tenth century historian Frodoard commended his noble birth and public generosity. Benedict upheld the ordinances of Pope Formosus, whose rotting corpse was exhumed by Pope Stephen VII and put on trial in the infamous “Cadaver Synod” of 897

The Third was a generally smart guy who outfoxed the Holy Roman Empire and helped free the papacy from Imperial control

Prior to his election, Benedict had a reputation for learning and piety, and elected on the refusal of the initial choice of clergy and people, Hadrian: a group of important people preferred Anastasius. This latter group had Benedict’s election disavowed and Anastasius installed. However popular opinion was so strong that Benedict’s consecration was allowed. The Emperor Louis II’s envoys forced Benedict to handle Anastasius and adherents leniently. The schism helped to weaken the hold of the emperors upon the popes, especially upon their elections.

The Second did almost the same thing, being the last Pope personally approved by the Eastern Emperor

Benedict II was pope from 684 to 685. He succeeded Leo II, but although chosen in 683 he was not ordained till 684, because the leave of the Emperor Constantine IV Pogonatus was not obtained until some months after the election. He obtained from the Emperor a decree which either abolished imperial confirmations altogether or made them obtainable from the exarch in Italy.

The First gave some guy some property and died during famine relief efforts

Almost the only act recorded of him is that he granted an estate, the Massa Veneris, in the territory of Minturnae, to Abbot Stephen of St. Mark’s “near the walls of Spoleto” (St. Gregory I, Ep. ix, 87, I. al. 30). Famine followed the devastating Lombards, and from the few words the Liber Pontificalis has about Benedict, we gather that he died in the midst of his efforts to cope with these difficulties. He was buried in the vestibule of the sacristy of the old basilica of St. Peter. In an ordination which he held in December he made fifteen priests and three deacons, and consecrated twenty-one bishops.

Few of the records of transactions outside Rome that help us understand the history of the Papacy survive from Benedict’s reign, and perhaps because of the disruption of the Lombards in Italy few ever existed.

Long Live Pope Benedict XVI!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *