Pope Victor II

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Victor II (c. 1018 – July 28, 1057), born Gebhard, Count of Calw, Tollenstein, and Hirschberg, was Pope from 1055 to 1057. He was one of a series of German reform Popes.


He was born Gebhard of Calw, a son of the Swabian Count Hartwig of Calw and a kinsman of Emperor Henry III (1039–1056). At the insistence of Gebhard, bishop of Ratisbon, the 24-year-old Gebhard was appointed bishop of Eichstätt. In this position, he supported the Emperor's interests and eventually became one of his closest advisors.

After the death of Pope Leo IX, a Roman delegation headed by Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII, travelled to Mainz and asked the Emperor for the nomination of a successor and suggested Gebhard, who was duly nominated in September 1054. Gebhard, taking the name Victor II, moved to Rome and was inthroned in St. Peter's Basilica on April 13, 1055.

In June 1055, Victor met the Emperor at Florence and held a council, which reinforced Pope Leo IX's (1049–1054) condemnation of clerical marriage, simony, and the loss of the church's properties. In the following year, he was summoned to the Emperor's side, and was with Henry III when he died at Bodfeld in the Harz on October 5, 1056. As guardian of Henry III's infant son Henry (1056–1105) and adviser of the Empress Agnes, Henry IV's mother and regent, Victor II now wielded enormous power, which he used to maintain peace throughout the empire and to strengthen the papacy against the aggressions of the barons. He died shortly after his return to Italy, at Arezzo, on July 28, 1057.

Victor II's retinue wished to bring his remains to the cathedral at Eichstätt for burial. Before they reached the city, however, the remains were seized by some citizens of Ravenna and buried there in the Church of Santa Maria Rotonda, the burial place of Theodoric the Great.

Although there have been eight German Popes, Victor II is one of only three Popes from the territory of present-day Germany, the others being Pope Clement II (1046–47) and the current Benedict XVI.


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