#155 - Pope Nicholas II
Pope from January 24, 1059 - July 27, 1061
Lived: 990 or 995 - July 27, 1061
Birth name: Gerhard of Burgundy
Give me the scoop on Nicholas II.
Gerhard of Burgundy was born in Chevron, a town the southeast of France, before the turn of the century. Being already somewhat long in the tooth for that time period, Gerhard was well-established as the Bishop of Florence by the time he was tapped by the Church’s reform leaders -- Hildebrand (St. Gregory VII), Humbert, and St. Peter Damian -- to succeed Stephen IX in January of 1059.
The trio had fled to Florence to avoid the ambitious Roman nobility, who had broken a promise to Stephen IX and surreptitiously elected an antipope, Benedict X. Real mature, guys. But with a new alliance with Norman princes, Nicholas was able to overthrow Benedict X and his ilk once and for all. Reigning for two and a half years, Nicholas II died July 27, 1061 and was buried at St. Reparata in Florence.
What was he known for?
Nicholas was best known for holding a landmark council in the Lateran Palace to thwart the Roman nobility’s sway during papal elections going forward. The council was able to be successful thanks to a decade of reforming popes who placed worthy men in high offices. The election decree and its subsequent papal bull
In Nomine Domini
(“In the Name of the Lord”) basically said that cardinal-bishops (there are three levels of cardinals) alone could nominate and elect a new successor of Peter. Though the Roman clergy, other cardinals, and the emperor still had rights of confirmation -- allowing them to veto any bad eggs -- this reform successfully kept the selection of popes within the confines of the Church from then on.
Nicholas II’s decision to make only the cardinal-bishops able to elect a pope -- by extension freezing out the cardinal-priests and cardinal-deacons, who had been able to elect popes for many decades prior -- was a unique one that wouldn’t last long. By the year 1100, all three levels of the cardinalate were able to elect popes once again, effectively forming the College of Cardinals that still elect popes to this day.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 1060, the great St. Anselm entered a Benedictine monastery as a novice. Even the great ones start somewhere.
Coming Monday...Pope Alexander II
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
Pope Nicholas II -
Pope Nicholas II -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Friday, July 28, 2017 at 2:00AM