Popes in a Year
#116 - Pope John IX
Pope from January 898 - January 900
Died: January 900
Give me the scoop on John IX.
John IX was born in Tivoli, the son of a man named Rampoald. His date of birth and exact date of papal election is unknown, but prior to his papacy John was a Benedictine monk and was ordained a priest by Pope Formosus. After Theodore II died, two opposing parties were jockeying for position to put their man next in line. True to form, the lesser of the two -- those opposing the late Pope Formosus -- did the Roman-Middle-Ages equivalent of yelling “SHOTGUN!” and simply invaded the Lateran Palace. Their man, Sergius (who would become Pope Sergius III in 904), claimed to be pope for a few weeks before John IX’s crew rose up and booted him from the city.
John was regarded as both smart and temperate, following Theodore’s lead in bringing vital stability and honor back to the Chair of Peter. At one point, John convened a meeting of bishops in Ravenna to help bring a stop to rampant violence in the region. He also protected the young Slavic Church from the Germans by allowing them to become a metropolitan See (basically, giving them an archbishop and more independence). John IX died after roughly two years in office in January 900.
What was he known for?
John IX, being from the party in Rome favorable to Pope Formosus, was best known for restoring that pope’s name and deeds, after his memory was so unceremoniously dragged through the mud (literally and figuratively) by Stephen VI a couple years earlier. John convened a council of bishops in Rome to do so, which also included imitating Theodore II in restoring all those ordained by Formosus. At the same meeting, John additionally ruled that no pope from then on should be elected by anyone other than clergy, and that elections should always be held in the presence of an imperial authority.
Apparently, a custom at the time among greedier Romans involved the plundering of houses of bishops and popes after their deaths. As part of his reforms to get the Church back on the straight-and-narrow, John IX said, “How ‘bout no” and commanded that both spiritual and temporal authorities work to prevent such an appalling practice.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 898, the first year of John IX’s pontificate, King Lambert II of Spoleto was killed after the Battle of Morengo. Lambert, who was also Holy Roman Emperor, was succeeded as king, with John’s blessing, by Berengar.
Coming Monday...Pope Benedict IV
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope John IX -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Friday, June 9, 2017 at 2:00AM