Popes in a Year
#122 - Pope John X
Pope from March 914 - May 928
Died: 860 - June 928
Give me the scoop on John X.
Born near Bologna, Italy around the year 860, we first find John being made a deacon by his bishop, Peter IV, likely before the turn of the 10th Century. He was elevated to Archbishop of Ravenna in 905, and was made pope by his relative Theodora, wife of Roman Senator Theophylact, in 914. His selection was obviously a sore spot for many in Rome, who not only objected to John basically being appointed to the papacy, but also that he
broke the rule that bishops could not transfer dioceses. It's not even that he was a bad guy, necessarily, since John is credited with having helped resolve church disputes both in Germany and in France, in addition to helping organize the Church in Dalmatia.
Later in his 14-year pontificate, John was active in the political sphere in Rome, especially after the deaths of Theodora and Theophylact left their daughter, Marouzia, and her husband in charge. When Berengar, the Holy Roman Emperor, was murdered, John favored a replacement who apparently posed a threat to Marouzia’s power. As a result, Marouzia had John deposed and thrown into prison late in the spring of 928. Shortly thereafter, the pope either died naturally or was murdered in prison.
What was he known for?
Pope John X was best known for defeating the Muslim army and preventing them from capturing Rome in the summer of 916. Believe it or not, John himself led the charge that resulted in the Saracen smackdown, with the help of a few other Italian leaders. Berengar, King of the Lombards, had long wished to be made Holy Roman Emperor, so John X granted his wish in hopes the new leader would help suppress the threat. However, Berengar double-crossed the pope and gave little aid, forcing the pontiff to lead and coordinate the charge himself. The Christian alliance that John formed to win the three-month Battle of Garigliano, where the Saracens had built their stronghold, is commonly thought of as a precursor to the Crusades.
At a time when relations between the East and West were not particularly good, John X actually helped forge some unity among the two sides. A dispute over whether Byzantine Emperor Leo could have his fourth marriage validated by the Church was the topic. By receiving a letter from Patriarch Nicholas of Constantinople, then sending a delegation to the Byzantine capital as a gesture of peace in return, John was instrumental in the two sides reaching a rare agreement and restoring communion.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
On July 12, 927, the Kingdom of England was officially formed by Anglo-Saxon King Aethelstan after several smaller kingdoms were annexed and united. The kingdom would last until the 18th century, when it merged with Scotland to become the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Coming Tomorrow...Pope Leo VI
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Guruge, A. (2010). The Next Pope. New Hampshire: WOWNH
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Monday, June 19 at 2:00AM