Lecture on: Course ChD 608 Church Development Part VIII
Title: The Events and Popes of the 9th Century
by Bro. Mactonse Osmond, OSM
Cyril and Methodius Missions to the Slavonic Peoples (c. 860, 863-880)
Cyril (originally Constantine) and Methodius were brothers, from a noble family in Thessalonika, a district in northeastern Greece. Constantine was the younger, born in about 827, and his brother Methodius in about 825. They both were ordained priest. Constantine undertook a mission to the Arabs, and then became a professor of philosophy at the imperial school in Constantinople and librarian at the cathedral of Santa Sophia. Methodius became governor of a district that had been settled by Slavs. Both brothers then retired to monastic life. In about 861, the Emperor Michel III sent them to work with the Khazars northeast of the Black Sea in the Dnieper-Volga region of what was later Russia. They learned the Khazar language and made many converts, and discovered what were believed to be relics of Clement, an early Bishop of Rome.
In about 863, Prince Rotislav, the ruler of Great Moravia (an area including much of what was later Czecko-Slovakia), asked the emperor for missionaries, specifying that he wanted someone who would teach his people in their own language (he had western missionaries, but they used only Latin). The emperor and the Patriarch Photius sent Methodius and his brother Constantine, who translated the Liturgy and much of the Scriptures into Slavonic.
Since Slavonic had no written form, they invented an alphabet for it, the Glagolitic alphabet, which gave rise to the Cyrillic alphabet (named for Constantine aka Cyril), which is used to write Russian and (with modifications) several related languages today.
Thus the brothers were the first to produce written material in the Slavic languages, and are regarded as the founders of Slavic literature.
The brothers encountered missionaries from Germany, representing the western or Latin branch of the Church, and more particularly representing the Holy Roman Empire as founded by Charlemagne, and committed to linguistic and cultural uniformity. They insisted on the use of the Latin liturgy, and they regarded Moravia and the Slavic peoples as their rightful mission field. When friction developed, the brothers, unwilling to be a cause of dissension among Christians, went south toward Venice, and then from Venice to Rome to see the Pope, hoping to reach an agreement that would avoid quarreling between missionaries in the field. They brought with them the above-mentioned relics of Clement, third bishop of Rome after the Apostles. They arrived in Rome in 868 and were received with honor. Constantine entered a monastery there, taking the name Cyril, by which he is now remembered.
However, he died only a few weeks thereafter. He is buried in Rome in the Church of San Clemente.
Pope (Adrian II) gave Methodius the title of Archbishop of Sirmium (now Sremska Mitrovica in Yugoslavia) and sent him back in 869, with jurisdiction over all of Moravia and Pannonia, and authorization to use the Slavonic Liturgy. Soon, however, Prince Rotislav, who had originally invited the brothers to Moravia, died, and his successor did not support Methodius. In 870 the Frankish king Louis and his bishops deposed Methodius at a synod at Ratisbon, and imprisoned him for a little over two years. The pope (John VIII) secured his release, but told him not to use the Slavonic Liturgy any more.
Methodius seems to have disregarded, wholly or in part, the prohibition of the Slavonic liturgy; and when Frankish clerics again found their way into the country, and the archbishop's strictness had displeased the licentious Svatopluk, this was made a cause of complaint against him at Rome, coupled with charges regarding the Filioque. In 878 he was summoned to Rome on charges of heresy and using Slavonic.
This time Pope John was convinced by his arguments and sent him back cleared of all charges, and with permission to use Slavonic. He died 6 April 885 in Velehrad, the old capitol of Moravia. The Carolingian bishop who succeeded him, Wiching, suppressed the Slavonic Liturgy and forced the followers of Methodius into exile. Many found refuge with King Boris of Bulgaria (852-889), under whom they reorganized a Slavic-speaking Church. Meanwhile, Pope John's successors adopted a Latin-only policy which lasted for centuries.
Today Cyril and Methodius are honored by Eastern and Western Christians alike, and the importance of their work in preaching and worshipping in the language of the people is recognized on all sides.
St. Paul I (757-67)
Pope Saint Paul I was pope from May 29, 757- June 28, 767. He first served as a Roman deacon and was frequently employed by his brother, Pope Stephen II, in negotiations with the Lombard kings.
After Stephen's death (April 26, 757) Paul prevailed over a faction that wanted to place the Archdeacon Theophylact on the Holy See and was chosen his brother's successor by the majority that wished a continuation of the late pope's policy.
Pope Paul I and Pope Stephen II had been educated for the priesthood at the Lateran palace. Stephen entrusted his brother, who approved of the pope's course in respect to King Pepin, with many important ecclesiastical affairs, among others with the restoration to the Roman States of the cities which had been seized by the Lombard Kings Aistulf and Desiderius; these cities Desiderius promised to give up.
He had some difficulty in dealing with the growing support of iconoclasm from Constantinople. A council called by emperor Constantine V had denounced the veneration of icons, resulting in a flood of refugees who were welcomed by Paul in the west. Constantine tried to get Pepin to also support iconoclasm, but that effort failed.
Paul continued his predecessor's policy towards the Frankish king, Pepin, and thereby continued the papal supremacy over Rome and the districts of central Italy in opposition to the efforts of the Lombards and the Eastern Empire. He encouraged religious life and turned his paternal house into a monastery.
He died at Rome, June 28, 767
767AD The Pope Dies and 3 Popes Claim the See
Antipope Constantine II (d 6 August 768) was an antipope in 767 and 768. During the last days of the Pope Paul I in June, his brother Toto of Nepi and a body of Tuscans placed him upon the See of Peter when he was still a layman. In spring 768 he was deposed and killed by Lombards, when prisoner in the monastery of San Saba.
Antipope Philip was pope for only one day (July 31, 768). The subject of others' intrigues rather than active on his own account, he was a chaplain in a monastery at Rome. The sometime papal Chancellor, Christophorus, had sought Lombard help to depose Pope Constantine II, who was the candidate of the military faction in Rome. When Constantine was taken captive, Waldipert, acting as the diplomat of the Lombard king Desiderius, accompanied Christophorus' brother Sergius in an attack on Rome that ended Constantine's papacy. Waldipert then installed Philip as Pope. Christophorus, on learning of this, stated that he would not enter Rome until Philip was removed. Philip was forced to return to his monastery. Christophorus entered Rome and oversaw the election of Stephen IV.
Stephen IV became the third Pope to be in the office that same year, 767 AD.
Stephen IV (767-772)
Stephen IV, pope (August 1, 768 - January 24, 772), was a native of Sicily, he came to Rome during the pontificate of Gregory III, and gradually rose to high office in the service of successive popes.
On the deposition of Antipope Constantine II, Stephen was chosen to succeed him. Fragmentary records are preserved of the council (April 769) at which the degradation of Constantine was completed, certain new arrangements for papal elections made, and the practice of devotion to icons confirmed politics of Stephen's reign are obscure, but he inclined to alliance between the Papacy and the Lombards rather than to the Franks. He was succeeded by Adrian I
Adrian I (772-95)
Pope Adrian, or Hadrian I, (died December 25, 795) was pope from February 1, 772 to December 25, 795. He was the son of Theodore, a Roman nobleman.
Adrian I was beset by numerous political problems, the most immediate of which was when Desiderius, king of the Lombards, invaded the Papal States right after Adrian was elected. Adrian called upon Charlemagne for aid and he did come to Italy and destroyed the Lombard kingdom.
After this security was established, Adrian moved to confirm the judgement of the Second Council of Nicaea which condemned iconoclasm. Charlemagne was not happy with this because it meant an moderation of relations between East and West (and perhaps because he had not been invited when it was convened), but he reconciled himself to it eventually. Adrian was also instrumental in combating the heresy of Adoptionism which had been spreading through Spain at the time.
Adrian remains today one of the longest reigning popes ever, surpassed by only four others in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
St. Leo III (795-816)
Pope Saint Leo III (died June 12, 816) was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor.
Leo III has been known to history as "Charlemagne's Pope." He came from the lower classes and, as a result, the aristocrats who formed the bulk of the Vatican hierarchy always resented him.
During his rule he was accused of adultery and perjury. In April 799 he was attacked by a gang, who unsuccessfully attempted to gouge out his eyes and cut off his tongue for his earlier actions, only to be saved by Magnus Forteman and 700 Frisian nobles of his army. He was then formally deposed and sent to a monastery, but escaped and made his way to Paderborn, where he met Charlemagne.
Charlemagne ordered Leo's enemies to Paderborn, but no decision could be found. He then had Leo escorted back to Rome. In November 800 Charlemagne himself went to Rome, and on December 1 held a council there with representatives of both sides. Leo, on December 23, took an oath of purgation concerning the charges brought against him, and his opponents were exiled.
800AD Pope Leo III and Coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor of the Romans
On Christmas day, 800, Leo crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor. This solidified the imperial protection of the papacy which meant that things proceeded peacefully for Leo, but he never forgot that he had made himself something of a subject to Charlemagne and he never seemed to be entirely happy about it. Leo did manage to resist Charlemagne's efforts to have the word filioque ("and the son") added to the Nicene Creed, but the two worked together to fight the heresy of Adoptionism. This direct alliance to the political rulers of the West became an important stepping stone towards the ultimate schism between the Eastern and Western churches.
Leo forbade the addition of "filioque" to the Nicene Creed which was added by Franks in Aachen in 809. He also ordered that the Nicene creed be engraved on silver tablets so that his conclusion might not be overturned in the future. He wrote (I, Leo, put here for love and protection of orthodox faith).
After Charlegmagne died in 814, Leo III lost a lot of his political protection, but by that time he had learned to exercise such power himself and he had conspirators against him executed. Theologically, he fought against the spread of the doctrine of adoptionism but with the issue of filioque he was more cautious - allowing its use, but not requiring it.
Stephen V (816-17)
Pope Stephen V, (885-891), succeeded Pope Adrian III, In his dealings with Constantinople in the matter of Photius, as also in his relations with the young Slavonic church, he pursued the policy of Pope Nicholas I.
He was consecrated in September, 885, without waiting for the imperial confirmation; but when Charles the Fat found with what unanimity he had been elected he let the matter rest.
Stephen was called upon to face a famine caused by a drought and by locusts, and as the papal treasury was empty he had to fall back on his father's wealth to relieve the poor, to redeem captives, and to repair churches.
To promote order he adopted Guy III of Spoleto "as his son" and crowned him Emperor (891). He also recognized Louis the Blind as King of Provence. As Aurelian, Archbishop of Lyon, would not consecrate Teutbold who had been canonically elected Bishop of Langres, Stephen himself consecrated him. He also opposed the arbitrary proceedings of the Archbishops of Bordeaux and Ravenna, and to resist the confrontation which the Patriarch Photius made on the Western Patriachate. His resistance was successful, and the Emperor Leo exiled Saint Photius.
Stephen died in 891 and was buried in the portico of the basilica of that Apostle.
St. Paschal I (817-24)
Pope Saint Paschal I was pope from January 25, 817 to February 11, 824. A native of Rome and son of Bonosus, he was raised to the pontificate by the acclamation of the clergy, shortly after the death of Pope Stephen IV, Paschal I chief concern as pope was the relationship between the Church and Charlemagne's son and successor, Louis I the Pious. Louis was a very busy ruler, both working to expand the empire and to reform and better organize the Church. Through careful negotiations, Paschal was able to get Louis to agree to political independence of the Roman see and surrounding territories.
In 823 he crowned Louis' son, Lothair I, as co-emperor - this symbolic act represented a new stage in the relationship between church and state. Through it, the pope was giving the emperor the temporal power to suppress evil and combat the worldly enemies of Christianity.
He died in Rome while the imperial commissioners were investigating the circumstances under which two papal officials that were testifying against the pope had been seized at the Lateran, blinded and afterwards beheaded; Paschal had shielded the murderers but denied all personal complicity in their crime. The Roman people refused him the honour of burial within the church of St Peter, but he now holds a place in the Roman calendar (May 16).
Eugene II (824-27)
Eugene II, (or Eugenius), pope (824-827) was a native of Rome and was chosen to succeed Paschal I. Another candidate, Zinzinnus, was proposed by the plebeian faction, and the presence of Lothar, son of the Frankish emperor Louis the Pious was necessary in order to maintain the authority of the new pope. Lothar took advantage of this opportunity to redress many abuses in the papal administration, to vest the election of the pope in the nobles, and to confirm the statute that no pope should be consecrated till his election had the approval of the Frankish emperor.
A council which assembled at Rome in the reign of Eugene passed several enactments for the restoration of church discipline, took measures for the foundation of schools and chapters, and decided against priests wearing a secular dress or engaging in secular occupations. Eugene also adopted various provisions for the care of the poor and of widows and orphans, and on that account received the name of "father of the people". He died in 827.
Pope Valentine reigned for thirty or forty days in 827, was a Roman by birth, and, according to the Liber Pontificalis, was first made a deacon by Paschal I (817-824). At the time popes were still elected jointly by the people of Rome, the clergy, and the nobility. Valentine was chosen unanimously, which was no small feat, but that's about all we know of him.
Gregory IV (827-44)
Gregory IV, pope (December 20, 827-January 11, 844), was chosen to succeed Valentine in December 827, on which occasion he recognized the supremacy of the Frankish emperor Louis the Pious in the most unequivocal manner.
Gregory IV was elected largely through the support of the Roman nobility and the Western emperor, upon whom Gregory would remain very dependent throughout his papacy. Although he had a relatively long papacy, on the whole he doesn't seem to have done much. He is really known for is his involvement in the political struggles between Emperor Louis the Pious and his son, Lothair.
Gregory contributed to the architectural development of Rome (he rebuilt the Basilica di San Marco) and promoted the celebration of the feast of All Saints.
He is also known for his appointment of Ansgar for archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen, and a missionary delegate for north and east parts of Europe. He also fortified the port of Ostia against the attacks of Saracens (the Muslims).
Sergius II (844-47)
Sergius II was Pope from January, 844-January 24, 847. On the death of Gregory IV the archdeacon John was proclaimed pope by popular acclamation, while the nobility elected Sergius, a Roman of noble birth. The opposition was suppressed, with Sergius intervening to save John's life. Sergius was then consecrated immediately by the nobles (or the bishops), without seeking the ratification of the Frankish court.
Sergius II encountered early opposition from Emperor Lothair, but through smooth diplomatic handing he was able to crown Lothair without also being forced to swear fealty to him. Matters did not go quite so well internally as Sergius caused wide displeasure through simony, dubious administrative practices and an expensive building program. People considered him so corrupt that, when Muslim pirates managed to plunder Ostia, St. Peter's and St. Paul's Cathedrals, this was widely regarded as acts of divine retribution.
St. Leo IV (847-55)
Pope Leo IV was embattled politically on both sides. Like his predecessor, Pope Sergius II, he was under pressure from king Lothair to be submissive to the political leadership in the north - but also like Sergius, Leo was determined to assert papal independence, starting immediately by not seeking Lothair's approval to be consecrated pope.
Part of the reason for this may have been a lack of time, not just the desire for independence from political leaders. Under the reign of Sergius II, Muslim forces had invaded Italy and even gone so far as to plunder Ostia, Rome's port city, something everyone interpreted as a sign of God's displeasure with the way things were being run. Leo IV went to great lengths to protect Rome from further incursions, building a 40-foot high wall surrounding St. Peter's and much of the Vatican, along with other fortifications and defenses for the city generally. The fortifications immeidately around the Vatican came to be known as the "Leonine City."
Leo IV was not simply interested in defense measures, though. He organized a large military alliance among various Greek and Italian cities, launching an attack upon the Muslims as they gathered outside of Ostia in preparation for an attack on Rome. He was also on the attack against Lothair, for example executing three imperial agents for the murder of a papal representative. He died 855.
Benedict III (855-58)
Benedict III was Pope from September 29, 855 to April 17, 858. Pope Benedict III, like his predecessors Leo IV and Sergius II, was almost immediately embroiled in conflict with king Lothair who insisted on retaining the right to give approval to the election of any new pope; also like his predecessors, Benedict was determined to assert the independence of the papacy and deny Lothair that right. As a consequence, Lothair appointed an antipope, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, but popular support was firmly behind Benedict and this conflict did not last long. It did, however, help firmly estalblish the split between church and state, with the church generally and the papacy specifically becoming ever more free from political control.
Although Anastasius was initially reduced to lay status and confined to a monastery, he would return under the next three popes to become an important papal advisor and, eventually, librarian of the Roman church (hence the name Bibliothecarius, Anastasius the Librarian).
In some of the medieval accounts of Pope Joan, a woman who allegedly ascended to the papal throne without anyone realizing her true gender, was the actual successor to Leo IV, not Benedict III. Going under the name Pope John Anglicus, he is believed by some to have reigned for two years, seven months, and four days. Her true identity was only revealed when she gave birth to a child while riding in a procession between St. Peter's Cathedral and the Lateran Palace. Pope Benedict III died April 17, 858.
St. Nicholas I (the Great) (858-67)
Pope Saint Nicholas I, reigned from April 24, 858 until his death. Pope Nicholas I expended a lot of effort to assert the authority and primacy of the bishop of Rome, even going so far as to deposing two archbishops over a conflict of policy. He also asserted his authority over churches in the East, something which those churches refused to accept.
This lead to him and Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, excommunicating each other - events which played an important role in the eventual schism bewteen Eastern and Western Christianity, known as the Great Schism. He died November 13, 867
Adrian II (867-72)
Adrian II (also known as Hadrian II), (792-872), pope from December 14, 867 to December 14, 872, was a member of a noble Roman family, and became pope in 867, at an advanced age.
Adrian II is generally considered to have been a very weak pope, throwing away many of the political gains achieved by his predecessors. The most important thing which occurred during his papacy was the Fourth Council of Constantinople which decided that in matters of religious authority, Constantinople came second to Rome.
John VIII (872-82)
John VIII was pope from December 13, 872 to December 16, 882. He is often considered one of the ablest pontiffs of the ninth century and the last bright spot on the papacy until Leo IX two centuries later.
He was born in Rome. Among the reforms achieved during his pontificate was a notable administrative reorganization of the papal curia. With little help from European kings, he attempted to expel the Saracens from Italy after they had penetrated as far as Rome. He failed and was forced to pay tribute. John defended St. Methodius against his German enemies, who objected to his use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy. John later confirmed the permission to use Slavonic that had been originally granted by Pope Adrian II, John's predecessor. In 879 he recognised the reinstatement of Photius as the legitimate patriarch of Constantinople; Photius had been condemned in 869 by Pope Adrian II. Consequently, John VIII was in favour of reciting the Creed without the filioque. In 878 John crowned Louis II, king of France. He also crowned two Holy Roman Emperors: Charles II and Charles III.
Marinus I (882-84)
Marinus I was Pope between December 16, 882 and May 15, 884.
Marinus I was a long time servant of the papal throne, having been employed by his three predecessors as an envoy to Constantinople in order to ease relations which had been strained over the controversy surrounding Photius, patriarch of Constantinople. His diplomatic skills were carried over when he himself was elected pope and Marinus endeavored to avoid causing offense.
One controversy about his papacy was the fact that, when elected bishop of Rome, he was already bishop of another diocese. This was in violation of the the rules set down by the First Nicea Council.
St. Adrian III (884-85)
Adrian III was pope from 884 to 885. He was born at Rome. He died in 885, at Modena, on a journey to Worms, in modern Germany.
His brief pontificate came during troubled times. He died en route to the Diet of Worms after being summoned by the Frankish King Charles III, The Fat, to settle the succession to the empire and discuss the rising Saracen power. The motives for his veneration are practically unknown, but he was noted for having aided the Romans during a famine. His cult was confirmed in 1891, and his feast day is 8th July.
Stephen VI (885-91)
Pope Stephen, (885-891), succeeded Pope Adrian III, and was in turn succeeded by Pope Formosus. In his dealings with Constantinople in the matter of Photius, as also in his relations with the young Slavonic church, he pursued the policy of Pope Nicholas I.
Stephen was elected unanimously but emperor Charles had not been consulted; as a result, Stephen faced the very real possibility of being deposed. Fortunately for him, Charlemagne's empire was falling apart and Charles was in no position to do anything about Stephen. Once Charles died, Stephen tried to rely on the support of various and weak princes to protect Rome. They proved too unreliable, though, so Stephen turned to Constantinople - especially once the Saracen raids increased.
When it came to internal church matters, Stephen made the fatal mistake of forbidding the Slavs to use a Slavonic liturgy during their services. This infuriated them and, as a result, they were driven towards the Eastern Church and Eastern Orthodox Christianity rather than Western Roman Catholicism.
Formosus was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 891 to 896. His brief reign as Pope was troubled, and his remains were exhumed and put on trial in the notorious Cadaver Synod Pope Formosus (whose name means "good looking") was unusually controversial - although many of the problems occurred after his death. Six months after he had died, his successor Stephen VI had his body dug up and put on trial; found guilty, it was stripped of the papal vestments and the fingers used by Formosus to bless others were removed. The body was drug through the streets and dumped in the Tiber river. Pope Sergius III later confirmed the decisions reached by this "Cadaver Synod," but Pope John XI reinstated Formosus about 40 years after his posthumous deposition.
Sergius reportedly had the much-abused corpse of Formosus exhumed once more, tried, found guilty again, and beheaded, thus in effect conducting a second Cadaver Synod
Editors Note: It should be noted that Pope Leo III was truly a "Western Orthodox Pope." The church was Orthodox Catholic or "Western Orthodox" where it did not utter the filioque. +DC
- Saints Cyril and Methodius
- St. Paul I (757-67)
- Stephen IV (767-72)
- Adrian I (772-95)
- St. Leo III (795-816)
- 800AD Pope Leo III and coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor of the Romans;
- Stephen V (816-17)
- St. Paschal I (817-24)
- Eugene II (824-27)
- Valentine (827)
- Gregory IV (827-44)
- Sergius II (844-47)
- St. Leo IV (847-55)
- Benedict III (855-58)
- St. Nicholas I (the Great) (858-67)
- Adrian II (867-72)
- John VIII (872-82)
- Marinus I (882-84)
- St. Adrian III (884-85)
- Stephen VI (885-91)
- Formosus (891-96)
- Metropolitan Archbishop +David Leon Cooper, Editor