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Pope Benedict IX

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Benedict IX
Papacy began October 1032 (first term)
Papacy ended July 1048 (third term)
Predecessor John XIX
Sylvester III
Clement II
Successor Sylvester III
Gregory VI
Damasus II
Personal details
Birth name Theophylactus of Tusculum
Born c. 1012
Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Died c. December 1055/January 1056 (age 43)
Grottaferrata, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Other Popes named Benedict

Pope Benedict IX (c. 1012 – c. 1056), born in Rome as Theophylactus of Tusculum, was Pope on three occasions between 1032 and 1048.[1] One of the youngest popes, he was the only man to have been Pope on more than one occasion and the only man ever to have sold the papacy.


Benedict was born the son of Alberic III, Count of Tusculum, and was a nephew of Pope Benedict VIII and Pope John XIX. His father obtained the Papal chair for him, granting it to his son in October 1032.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia[2] and other sources, Benedict IX was around 18 to 20 years old when made pontiff, although some sources claim 11 or 12.[3] He reportedly led an extremely dissolute life and allegedly had few qualifications for the papacy other than connections with a socially powerful family, although in terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. St. Peter Damian is alleged to have described him as "feasting on immorality"; the anti-papal historian Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote that in Benedict, "a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest... occupied the chair of Peter and profaned the sacred mysteries of religion by his insolent courses."[1] The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him "a disgrace to the Chair of Peter."[2] The first pope said to have been primarily homosexual,[4] he was said to have held orgies in the Lateran palace.

He was also accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of "many vile adulteries and murders".[5] Pope Victor III, in his third book of Dialogues, referred to "his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it."[6]

He was briefly forced out of Rome in 1036, but returned with the help of Emperor Conrad II.

In September 1044 the opposition forced him out of the city again and elected John, Bishop of Sabina, as Pope Sylvester III. Benedict IX's forces returned in April 1045 and expelled his rival, who however kept his claim to the papacy for years.

In May 1045, Benedict IX resigned his office to pursue marriage, selling his office to his godfather, the pious priest John Gratian, who named himself Gregory VI.

Benedict IX soon regretted his resignation and returned to Rome, taking the city and remaining on the throne until July 1046, although Gregory VI continued to be recognized as the true pope. At the time, Sylvester III also restated his claim.

German King Henry III intervened, and at the Council of Sutri in December 1046 Benedict IX and Sylvester III were declared deposed while Gregory VI was encouraged to resign, which he did. The German Bishop Suidger was crowned Pope Clement II.

Benedict IX had not attended the council and did not accept his deposition. When Clement II died in October 1047, Benedict seized the Lateran Palace in November, but was driven away by German troops in July 1048. To fill the power vacuum, bishop Poppo of Brixen was elected as Pope Damasus II and universally recognized as such. Benedict IX refused to appear on charges of simony in 1049 and was excommunicated.

Benedict IX's eventual fate is obscure, but he seems to have given up his claims to the papal throne. Pope Leo IX may have lifted the ban on him. Benedict IX was buried in the Abbey of Grottaferrata c. 1056 according to some accounts.

Benedict is usually recognized as having had three terms as pope:

  • the first lasting from his election to his expulsion in favour of Sylvester III (October 1032 – September 1044)
  • the second from his return to his selling the papacy to Gregory VI (April – May 1045)
  • the third from his return after the death of Clement II to the advent of Damasus II (November 1047 – July 1048)

Family tree

Theophylact I, Count of Tusculum
Hugh of Italy
(also married Marozia)
Alberic I of Spoleto
d. 925
Pope Sergius III
Alda of Vienne
Alberic II of Spoleto
David or Deodatus
Pope John XI
Gregory I, Count of Tusculum
Pope John XII
Pope Benedict VII
Pope Benedict VIII
Pope 1012–1024
Alberic III, Count of Tusculum
d. 1044
Pope John XIX
Pope 1024–1032
Peter, Duke of the Romans
Pope Benedict IX

See also


  1. Coulombe, Charles A., Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes, (Citadel Press, 2003), 198.
  2. 2.0 2.1  "Pope Benedict IX". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.rightpedia.info/w/Wikisource:Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Pope_Benedict_IX.  </noinclude>
  3. Russel, Bertrand (1945). History of Western Philosophy, p. 412. Simon and Schuster, New York.
  4. Lynne Yamaguchi Fletcher, First Gay Pope, London, 1992
  5. “Post multa turpia adulteria et homicidia manibus suis perpetrata, postremo, etc.”Dümmler, Ernst Ludwig (1891), Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Libelli de lite (in Latin), I (Bonizonis episcopi Sutriensis: Liber ad amicum ed.), Hannover: Deutsches Institut für Erforschung des Mittelalters, p. 584, retrieved 2008-01-03 .
  6. Victor III, Pope (1934), Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Libelli de lite (in Latin) (Dialogi de miraculis Sancti Benedicti Liber Tertius auctore Desiderio abbate Casinensis ed.), Hannover: Deutsches Institut für Erforschung des Mittelalters, p. 141, retrieved 2008-01-03, Cuius vita quam turpis, quam freda, quamque execranda extiterit, horresco referre .

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John XIX
Succeeded by
Sylvester III
Preceded by
Sylvester III
Succeeded by
Gregory VI
Preceded by
Clement II
Succeeded by
Damasus II