Popes in a Year
#154 - Pope Stephen IX
Pope from August 3, 1057 - March 29, 1058
Lived: c. 1020 - March 29, 1058
Birth name: Frederick of Lorraine
Give me the scoop on Stephen IX.
Born Frederick of Lorraine (that’s his region, not his mom), Pope Stephen IX was a member of the nobility and brother of the powerful and feared Duke Godfrey of Lower Lorraine. Frederick had been appointed abbot of the famed Monte Cassino monastery by St. Leo IX, though he also served in many capacities elsewhere. Stephen succeeded Victor II in early August 1057 as a result of both his family ties and status within the Church. Though nepotism seemed (on the surface) to be alive and well once again in Rome, Stephen IX was dedicated to reform of the Church and was actually a pretty solid pick. He was in office barely half a year before dying on March 29, 1058. Stephen IX was buried in the Church of St. Reparata, Florence, Italy’s former cathedral.
What was he known for?
Pope Stephen IX was a key part in pushing reforms to papal elections, even in death. One of his sole acts in his short time as pope was sending Hildebrand, a key advisor and the future Pope Gregory VII, to visit the empress and have his election reform ratified by the imperial court. As part of this, Stephen IX made the Romans swear that no papal election would be held until Hildebrand returned. The Romans ended up going back on their pinky promise (surprise surprise), which is why the man they elected after Stephen’s death, Benedict X, is considered an antipope.
Stephen IX is the pope who elevated St. Peter Damian, a doctor of the Church and reforming Benedictine monk, to the rank of cardinal-bishop, assigning him to serve in Ostia. Peter was reportedly so floored by the importance of his new office that he wrote a letter to his brother bishops and cardinals exhorting them to be pillars of integrity and holiness as a result.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
1058 is most likely the year in which Godfrey de Bouillon, a Frankish knight and key leader in the First Crusade, was born.
Coming Tomorrow...Pope Nicholas II
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope Stephen (IX) X -
Pope Stephen IX -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Thursday, July 27 at 2:00AM