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Formosus (c. 816—896)


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(Aug.–Nov. 897: d. ?)

Nothing is known of his background except that he was the son of Constantine, otherwise unknown, was born at Gallese, near Cività Castellana, and became cardinal priest of S. Pietro in Vincoli. When the outraged partisans of the posthumously humiliated Formosus had deposed, imprisoned, and murdered Stephen VI, he was elected as his successor at a date which cannot be precisely ascertained. Virtually nothing is known of his reign except that he is presumed to have been pro-Formosan, and that he bestowed the pallium on Vitalis, patriarch of Grado, and on the request of their bishops confirmed the sees of Elne, in Roussillon, and Gerona, in Spain, in the possession of their property. He was pope for only four months; according to one recension of LP, he ‘was afterwards made a monk’, i.e. confined in a monastery. If this report rests on reliable tradition, it suggests that he was deposed by the pro-Formosan faction, presumably to make way for a pope who would take more energetic steps to vindicate their hero. On any supposition the date of his death is not known.

Further Reading

JW i. 441LP ii. 230Mansi xviii. 186–8E. Dümmler, Auxilius und Vulgarius (Leipzig, 1866)Seppelt ii. 342DTC xiii. 2847 (É. Amann)EThC 131 (S. Scholz)Levillain iii. 1327 (K. Herbers)NCE xii. 346–7 (P. J. Mullins)Z1: 59

Subjects: Christianity.

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