Popes in a Year
#137 - Pope John XV
Pope from August 985 - April 1, 996
Died: April 1, 986
Give me the scoop on John XV.
John was born in Rome, the son of a priest named Leo. He ascended to the Chair of Peter over a year after Pope John XIV died, given that it took nearly that long to get the antipope, Boniface VII, off his phony throne (Boniface died in July 985). In the meantime, a man named Crescentius, a relative of Rome’s former ruler Alberic II, had taken charge of the city. That spelled bad news for John XV who, once elected in August 985, was marginalized by Crescentius to manage little more than the Church’s affairs. John eventually fled to Tuscany and sought Emperor Otto III's help in combatting Crescentius’ tyranny. Sounds like it was a long decade for John XV. He died April 1, 996.
What was he known for?
Pope John XV is known for making history, so much so that its effects are still being seen today. On January 31, 993, John convened a meeting of bishops in the Lateran Palace to formally canonize Ulrich, the former Bishop of Augsburg who had died 20 years earlier. It was the first time in Church history that a pope canonized a saint by way of a solemn ceremony, beginning a new tradition that, up to that point, had primarily consisted of the deceased person simply being venerated after death by popular acclaim (Think: “Bob was holy. Like,
holy. We should ask for his prayers. Oh, there's miracles happening at his tomb? Let's call him 'Holy Bob' from now on.”). John’s act laid the foundation for the canonization process we know and love today.
Pope John XV is sometimes referred to in papal lists as John
, due to what may have simply been a clerical error. A few papal historians in the old days had mistakenly added an additional “Pope John” after the antipope Boniface VII, claiming that he had legitimately reigned for four months. As a result, record-keepers referred to the real John XV as “Pope John XVI”. The error has since been cleared up.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
Around the year 992, Vikings settlers in the Irish city of Dublin founded a mint, where they began producing silver pennies.
Coming Monday...Pope Gregory V
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope John XV (XVI) -
Pope John XV -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Friday, July 7 at 2:00AM