A Roman of upper-class family, son of Leontius of the Via Lata, he early entered the service of the church, being ordained probably at the age of 25 and brought into the papal palace by Paschal I and being eventually made archdeacon. On the death of Eugene II he was unanimously elected pope by the clergy, nobility, and people of Rome; the participation of the last indicates that the constitution of 824 promulgated by Emperor Lothair I (840–55) and ratified by Eugene II was strictly observed. He was duly consecrated, but according to LP died 40 days later; the Annals attributed to Einhard (c. 770–840), Charlemagne's biographer and counsellor, give his reign as less than a month. LP applauds his piety and other virtues in conventional terms, but there is no record of any acts performed by him.
LP ii. 71 f. (Davis 3: 41–4)JW i. 322 f.DTC xv. 2497 (É. Amann)Levillain iii. 1565 (F. Marazzzi)