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Pope Formosus

AKA Formosus

Born: c. 816 AD
Died: 4-Apr-896 AD
Cause of death: Natural Causes
Remains: Buried, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: Italy
Executive summary: Roman Catholic Pope, 891-896

Successor of Pope Stephen V. He first appears in history when, as bishop of Porto, he was sent on an embassy to the Bulgarians. Having afterwards sided with a faction against Pope John VIII, he was excommunicated and compelled to take an oath never to return to Rome or to reassume his priestly functions. From this oath he was, however, absolved by Pope Marinus, the successor of John VIII, and restored to his dignities, and on the death of Stephen V in 891 he was chosen pope.

At that time the Holy See was engaged in a struggle against the oppression of the princes of Spoleto, and a powerful party in Rome was eager to obtain the intervention of Arnulf, king of Germany, against these dangerous neighbors. Formosus himself shared this view, but he was forced to yield to circumstances and to consecrate as emperor Lambert, the young son of Guy of Spoleto. Guy had already been consecrated by Stephen V, and died in 894. In the following year Arnulf succeeded in seizing Rome, and Formosus crowned him emperor. But, as he was advancing on Spoleto against Lambert, Arnulf was seized with paralysis, and was forced to return to Germany. Overwhelmed with chagrin, Formosus died on 4 April 896.

The discords in which he had been involved continued after his death. The validity of his acts was contested on the pretext that, having been originally bishop of Porto, he could not have been a legitimate pope. The fundamental factor in these dissensions was the rivalry between the princes of Spoleto and the Carolingian house, represented by the king of Germany. The body of Formosus was disinterred in 897 by Pope Stephen VI and treated as that of a usurper of the papal throne, his corpse put on trial, condemned, and defiled; but Theodore II restored it to Christian burial, and at a council presided over by John IX, the pontificate of Formosus was declared valid and all his acts confirmed.

    Roman Catholic Pope 891-896
    Excommunicated by Pope John VIII (872)
    Exiled from Rome (878)
    Exhumed Jan-897
    Perjury convicted (897)


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