Pope Benedict IX

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Pope Benedict IX (c. 1012 – c. 1056), born Theophylactus of Tusculum, was Pope on three occasions between 1032 and 1048. One of the youngest popes, he was the only man to have been Pope on more than one occasion and the only man ever to have sold the papacy.

Contents

Biography

Benedict was born in Rome as Theophylactus, the son of Alberic III, Count of Tusculum, and the nephew of Pope Benedict VIII (1012–1024) and Pope John XIX (1024–1032). His father obtained the Papal chair for him, granting it to his son in October 1032.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia[1] and other sources, Benedict IX was around 18 to 20 years old when made pontiff, although some sources claim 11 or 12.[2] He reportedly led an extremely dissolute life, and also allegedly had few qualifications for the papacy other than connections with a socially powerful family, although in terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. St. Peter Damian described him as "feasting on immorality" and "a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest" in the Liber Gomorrhianus. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him "a disgrace to the Chair of Peter."[1]

He was also accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of "many vile adulteries and murders".[3] Pope Victor III in his third book of Dialogues, referred to "his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it."[4]

He was briefly forced out of Rome in 1036 but returned with the help of Emperor Conrad II.

In September 1044 the opposition forced him out of the city again and elected John, Bishop of Sabina, as Pope Sylvester III. Benedict IX's forces returned in April 1045 and expelled his rival, who however kept his claim to the papacy for years.

In May 1045, Benedict IX resigned his office to pursue marriage, selling his office to his godfather, the pious priest John Gratian, who named himself Gregory VI.

Benedict IX soon regretted his resignation and returned to Rome, taking the city and remaining on the throne until July 1046, although Gregory VI continued to be recognized as the true pope. At the time, Sylvester III also restated his claim.

German King Henry III (1039–1056) intervened, and at the Council of Sutri in December 1046 Benedict IX and Sylvester III were declared deposed while Gregory VI was encouraged to resign, which he did. The German Bishop Suidger was crowned Pope Clement II.

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