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Synodus Horrenda: Die makabere verhoor van die lyk van pous Formoso

Synodus Horrenda: Die makabere verhoor van die lyk van pous Formoso

In 897 nC is die heilige ruimte van die Basiliek van St John of Lateran, Rome, geskend deur 'n werklik sinistere gebeurtenis binne die donker mure van die huis van God. In die teenwoordigheid van die keiser Lamberto van Spoleto, pous Stephen VI en die regter curia, 'n ongewone beskuldigde is tereggestel: die lyk van pous Formoso, beskuldig - word onregverdig geglo - van die gruwelikste boosheid.

Links het pous Formoso, wie se lyk opgegrawe is, verhoor en veroordeel. Regs, 'n indrukwekkende 'close-up' van Lauren se skildery van die pous se lyk tydens die makabere verhoor.

Die absurditeit van die lyk op die proef

Formoso, gebore in Rome in 816 nC, was die eerste kardinaal van die voorstedelike setel van Porto-Santa Rufina, wat reeds in die derde eeu saamgestel is, en regeer oor die troon van Petrus vanaf 891 na sy dood op 4 April 896. In Benewens die beoordelaars - onder wie Pietro di Albano, Silvestro di Porto en Giovanni di Velletri - was die paadjies beset deur sowel hoë prelate as die gewone mense wat gretig was om 'n makabere vertoning by te woon wat meer as enige ander hul nuuskierigheid, belangstelling kon wek en afgryse.

Op die spesiale troon, bedek met 'n rooi doek, was die lyk van pous Formoso, 'sacratis vestimentis' , of bedek met heilige gewade om die ongewone proses te formaliseer en in 'n poging om die liggaam - wat al meer as nege maande begrawe was - meer presentabel te maak. Formoso is begrawe met 'n haarhemp waarvan die metaalpunte steeds in die verrottende vlees van een van die opvolgers van die 'Prins van die Apostels' vassteek. 'N Vermeende wond was in sy bors sigbaar. Kan dit veroorsaak word deur die punt van 'n spies?

Rigor mortis het veroorsaak dat die liggaam 'n vreemde 'geneigde' posisie inneem, asof dit pas deur 'n onsigbare kruis neergelê is, terwyl 'n 'industriële' hoeveelheid korrels wierook op die braziers brand, in 'n poging om die skerp reuk van die verrottende vlees van die pous, versteur in sy ewige slaap.

Detail van Laurent se "staatsaanklaer", pous Stephen VI, tydens die vreemde verhoor van die lyk van pous Formoso. ( Publieke domein)

Damned Be His Memory

Wat was die doel van die makabere skouspel om 'n lyk tereg te stel wat homself nie kon verdedig nie, maar steeds teenwoordig was om 'te luister' na die beskuldigings van sy inkwisiteurs?


Die Kadawer -sinode of daardie tyd wat ons 'n lyk op die proef stel

Romeinse kerke is gewoonlik nie skaam oor hul makabere geskiedenis nie. By Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte laat 'n non u graag hul kript van verlate lyke fotografeer in ruil vir 'n klein skenking. By Santa Prassede sal 'n sakristan u 'n pamflet gee en die bron goed uitwys waar St. Praxedis en St. Pudentiana die bloed gegiet het wat uit die drieduisend martelare wat hulle weggekruip het, gegiet het. By die beroemde Capuchin -kript kan u selfs poskaarte van die gemummifiseerde monnike koop om aan dierbare vriende of vyande te stuur.

Maar as u na die Basilica San Giovanni Laterano gaan op soek na sulke morbiede besienswaardighede, sal u agterkom dat u alleen is. Wat meer as duisend jaar gelede daar gebeur het, is nog steeds te aaklig om van te praat. Dit is die kerk waar pous Stephen VI in Januarie 897 die verrottende lyk van pous Formosus verhoor het.

Die verhoor is die Cadaver -sinode genoem Sinodus Horrenda (aangesien alles meer kleurvol is in Latyn). Dit het een van die mees korrupte tydperke in die geskiedenis van die pousdom ingelui, 'n tyd wat nou in alle erns na verwys word as die pornokrasie.

Om te verstaan ​​wat met pous Formosus se ongelukkige lyk gebeur het, moet u verstaan ​​dat die wêreld om hom uitmekaar val. Die westelike ryk wat Karel die Grote verenig het, het sedertdien in kleiner en kleiner faksies verbrokkel. Klein kleinvee het die skatte van Rome dopgehou en beskermingsgeld geëis terwyl die stad nog uit die sak van die Sarasene van 846 ontsnap het. Skille het binne die kerk ontstaan ​​terwyl die manne wat pous wou word, gevind het dat hulle die bykomende krag van een van die vele sekulêre leiers nodig het om bereik dit.

Die verhaal van die lykverhoor begin eintlik tydens die bewind van pous Johannes VIII. Op hierdie tydstip was Formosus biskop van Porto (die Romeinse voorstad, nie die stad in Portugal nie). Hy was ook 'n suksesvolle sendeling, bekend daarvoor dat hy Katolisisme oor die Bulgaarse koninkryk versprei het. Maar hy was miskien 'n bietjie te goed in sy werk. Pous Johannes VIII draai Formosus om en beskuldig hom daarvan dat hy 'n wet oortree het wat verhoed het dat biskoppe oor meer as een plek op 'n slag kon regeer - 'n wet wat veronderstel was om te verhoed dat biskoppe hul eie klein koninkryke kon opbou. En miskien meer sprekend, het John Formosus daarvan beskuldig dat hy 'n wet wat onlangs goedgekeur is, oortree wat die openlike strewe na die pous verbied. Formosus het 'n bietjie te naby geraak vir troos, sodat Johannes hom laat uitskakel.

Soos dit blyk, was John se paranoia geregverdig. Hy was die eerste pous wat deur sy eie mense vermoor is. Eers is hy vergiftig, maar die vergiftiger het geduld verloor terwyl hy wag dat die drankie in werking tree en John se kop met 'n hamer ingedruk. Na John se dood het die pousdom so 'n hoë omsetkoers gehad, dit is 'n wonder dat iemand die pos glad wou hê. Marinus I volg John op en stel Formosus weer as biskop aan. Die jaar daarna volg pous St. Adrianus III Marinus op, maar duur skaars 'n jaar voordat hy self vermoor word. Pous Stephen V het kort daarna gevolg.

Uiteindelik in 891 was dit Formosus se beurt. Hy het daarin geslaag om die pousdom vir vyf onstuimige jare vas te hou voordat hy aan 'n beroerte gesterf het. Sy opvolger, Boniface VI, is vinnig gekies om onluste te onderdruk, maar hy was 'n vreemde keuse - hy is twee keer ontken vir 'immorele gedrag'. Hy het slegs 15 dae lank regeer voordat hy (weer) aan jig of vergiftiging gesterf het.

Volgende was pous Stephen VI. Minder as 'n jaar in sy pousdom het hy die bevel gegee om Formosus op te grawe en sy lyk te dwing om tereg te kom vir misdade wat pous Johannes VIII hom uitgesluit het: om die pousdom te soek en oor meer as een plek as biskop te heers.

Nou die rede waarom Stephen VI om hierdie arme lyk te ontheilig het, kon gewees het om 'n paar politieke bondgenootskappe te vestig met 'n faksie wat Formosus gehaat het, maar dit was meer waarskynlik dat Stephen skuldig was aan presies dieselfde dinge waarop hy Formosus beskuldig het . Formosus het Stephen tot biskop gemaak, en Stephen het biskop van Rome geword ('n titel wat saam met die pousdom kom) terwyl hy nog die pos beklee het. Maar as Formosus aan dieselfde misdaad skuldig bevind kon word ('n gelyktydige biskop van twee plekke), sou sy optrede nietig wees en sou Stephen nie 'n biskop gewees het toe hy tot pous verkies is nie. Stephen was moontlik ook heeltemal kranksinnig.

So word die lyk van Formosus uitgesleep, geklee in pouslike gewade en in 'n stoel in San Giovanni Laterano gestut. Ironies genoeg beteken die naam van die arme Formosus 'mooi', maar toe was hy 'n gruwelike gesig. 'N Diaken is aangestel om vir hom te praat, maar voorspelbaar sê hy nie veel nie, terwyl Stephen op die lyk skree. Op 'n stadium in die verhoor het 'n aardbewing die basiliek geruk en 'n deel daarvan beskadig. Maar selfs in die lig van hierdie onheilspellende teken, is Formosus op alle aanklagte skuldig bevind, van sy kledingstukke ontneem en die drie vingers wat hy vir sy seën op sy regterhand gebruik het, afgekap.

Stephen het hom op 'n onduidelike stuk grond laat begrawe, maar toe hy beter daaroor nadink, het hy hom nog 'n keer laat opgrawe en in die Tiber gegooi. Op hierdie stadium het die mense van Rome amper genoeg gehad van Stefanus en sy lykverhoor. 'N Skare het hom in die tronk gegooi waar hy in sy sel verwurg is. Later dieselfde jaar is San Giovanni Laterano byna deur 'n brand verwoes asof hy van die hele nare onderneming ontslae wou raak.

Die volgende pous, pous Romanus, vernietig al die optrede van Stephen VI, maar word in minder as 'n jaar omvergewerp. Sy opvolger, pous Theodore II, was slegs 20 dae lank pous, maar kon daarin slaag om die lyk van Formosus te herstel. Sy opvolger, John IX, het toesig gehou oor die herbegrafnis van Formosus in die Sint -Petruskatedraal. Vandag is daar nog 'n monument met die name van pouse wat daar begrawe is. Daar kan u die naam van Formosus in klip sien sny- een van die laaste spore van die Cadaver-sinode.

Skildery: Jean -Paul Laurens, "Pous Formosus en Stephen VI - The Cadaver Synode" (1870) (via Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes)


Interessante feite oor die Christendom

Om meer interessante feite oor die Christendom te leer, sal u help om u historiese kennis op te vee en u geloof verder te omhels.

Jesus word vyf keer meer genoem as die aantal kere wat Mohammed in die Koran genoem word.

Dertig silwerstukke sou vandag sowat $ 600 werd wees, wat genoeg sou gewees het om 'n geskoolde werker gedurende die tyd in die geskiedenis vir vier maande te betaal.

Dit is een van die mees bisarre fobies. Dit hou verband met ander soorte fobies, soos hierofobie (irrasionele vrees vir heilige mense of dinge) en ekklesiafobie of ekklesofobie (irrasionele vrees vir geïnstitusionaliseerde godsdienste, die kerk en/of die mense wat daarby betrokke is).

Die graf van Muhammad word in die Green Dome in Medina, Saoedi -Arabië, gehuisves. Volgens Islam -geleerdes sal Jesus terugkeer na die Heilige Land om die Antichris (die valse messias ”) te vernietig en 40 jaar lank oor die land te regeer. Hierna sal Jesus langs Mohammed begrawe word, en dit verklaar die leë ruimte wat op hom wag.

Pous Francis, soos Jorge Bergoglio, het vroeër in 'n verskeidenheid werk gewerk voordat hy 'n Jesuïet -priester geword het: hy werk as 'n bediende, chemiese fabriekswerker en ook as 'n nagklub -uitsmyter.

Weet u dat 'n heilige man eens 'n stomende roman geskryf het? U sal hiermee u kop skud, maar 'n man met die naam Aenas Sylvius Piccolomini het 'n erotiese roman geskryf met die titel “The Tale of Two Lovers ” (Historia de duobus amantibus in Latyn) in 1444. Die verhaal fokus op 'n ongetroude vrou en 'n man, en hul korrespondensie met mekaar wat die grootste deel van die roman beslaan. Dit is geskryf voordat Piccolomini as priester aangestel is, waarna hy pous Pius II geword het.

“The Tale of Two Lovers ” is in verskeie tale vertaal, insluitend Engels. Afgesien van die gewilde erotiese roman, het Pius ook erotiese gedigte geskryf.

Die Christelike bevolking in die hele wêreld sal na verwagting groei, van 2,2 miljard in 2010 tot 2,9 miljard in 2050. Die merkwaardigste ontwikkeling is in Afrika suid van die Sahara, waar die Christelike bevolking na verwagting met 38%sal toeneem. Terwyl die Christelike bevolking in Europa, aan die ander kant, sal voortgaan om af te neem, van 26% in 2010 tot 16% in 2050.

Die Romeinse Ryk het Christene eens daarvan beskuldig dat hulle ateïste was omdat hulle geweier het om die Romeinse gode te aanbid, wat ironies klink. Volgens geleerdes, wat Romeine oor Christene ontstel het, is dat die Christelike rites simplisties was. Dit was in teenstelling met die Romeinse aanbidding (met tempels, orakels, offers, ikone, uitgebreide godsdienstige rites).

Om meer spesifiek te wees, het die wêreldbekende evangelis Billy Graham vir ongeveer 215 miljoen in meer as 185 lande en gebiede gepreek. Graham preek al meer as 60 jaar.

Die Rooms -Katolieke Kerk verdien sy inkomste meestal uit skenkings, en dit is nie so verbasend nie, aangesien die kerk meer as 1,2 miljard lidmate regoor die wêreld het.

Daar is meer as 67 miljoen Christene op die vasteland van China. Sedert die dood van voorsitter Mao in 1976, het die aantal gemeentes en kerke die hoogte ingeskiet.

En u dink dat dit net Rooms -Katolieke, Protestantse, Ortodokse en Oosterse denominasies is. Daar is eintlik ongeveer 33,830 verskillende Christelike denominasies versprei oor die hele wêreld. Maar die getalle kan verskil — sommige bronne sê dat daar ongeveer 43 000 is.

Die Christendom was die belangrikste godsdiens in Egipte tussen die 4de en 6de eeu tot die inval van die Arabiere gedurende die vroeë tot die middel van die 7de eeu. 'N Weermag van 4000 Arabiese soldate is deur die kalief Umar (Mohammed se opvolger) gestuur en het van die Bisantyne uit Alexandrië, Egipte, weggejaag om die sukses van die Moslem -verowering van Egipte te beklemtoon. Sedertdien was Islam die dominante godsdiens in die land.

Onder die lande waar Christene ernstig vervolg word, is Noord -Korea, Saoedi -Arabië, Bhoetan, China, Iran, Laos, Maledive, Viëtnam en Jemen. Baie van hierdie lande handhaaf vir sommige van hulle geen godsdiensvryheid nie, maar omskakeling na 'n ander godsdiens is met die dood strafbaar.

Eintlik is daar sewe grotkerke in die Mokattam Village, 'n gemeenskap in Egipte wat as '#vullisstad' genoem word. 'N Sekere grotkerk, die klooster van Simon die leerlooier (vernoem na 'n Koptiese Christelike heilige), is die grootste kerk in die Midde -Ooste, met 'n sitplek van ongeveer 20 000.

Antarktika het eintlik ten minste sewe plekke van aanbidding, meestal Ortodokse en Katolieke kerke, insluitend die wonderlike Ice Cave Katolieke Kapel wat op die Belgrano II -basis geleë is.

Die mees bisarre (en beslis die mees makabere) episode in die pouslike geskiedenis is om 'n dooie pous tereg te stel, genaamd Cadaver Sinode (Sinodus Horrenda in Latyn). Die verhoor is uitgevoer deur sy opvolger Stephen VI, wat die verrottende lyk van pous Formosus gehad het. Die nuwe pous het die lyk laat teregstaan ​​omdat hy die pous onwettig oorgeneem het. Na afloop van hierdie freakish verhoor, is Formosus skuldig bevind en sy heerskappy as pous ongeldig verklaar. Die lyk is in die Tiberrivier afgegooi. Na afloop van die Sinode het die publiek genoeg gehad van Stephen se morbiede skouspel en het hy hom gekeer. Stephen is in 'n sel gegooi waar hy uiteindelik doodgewurg is.

Volgens 'n studie wat in Noorweë gedoen is, ervaar kerkgangers minder voorkoms van hoë bloeddruk in vergelyking met nie-kerkgangers.

Die rede hiervoor kan toegeskryf word aan die bywoning van godsdienstige dienste, waar die aanhoor van preke voordelig is om gesonde besluitneming aan te moedig en stres die hoof te bied. Deur betrokke te raak by kerkverwante aktiwiteite, soos om saam te bid en godsdienstige gesange te sing, kan 'n persoon ook fisiologiese en geestelike welstand verleen, wat stres verminder, wat een van die belangrikste skuldiges van hoë bloeddruk is.


Onmiddellike konteks

Die Cadaver -sinode word algemeen aanvaar dat dit polities gemotiveerd was. Formosus bekroon Lambert van Spoleto mede-heerser van die Heilige Romeinse Ryk in 892 Lambert se vader, Guy III van Spoleto, is vroeër deur Johannes VIII gekroon. [11] In 893 nooi Formosus, blykbaar senuweeagtig oor Guy se aggressie, die Karolingiese Arnulf van Karinthië om Italië binne te val en die keiserlike kroon te ontvang. Die inval van Arnulf het misluk, en Guy III sterf kort daarna. Tog hernu Formosus sy uitnodiging na Arnulf in 895, en vroeg in die volgende jaar kruis Arnulf die Alpe en betree Rome, waar Formosus hom as Heilige Romeinse keiser bekroon het. Daarna vertrek die Frankiese leër, en Arnulf en Formosus sterf binne enkele maande van mekaar in 896. Formosus word opgevolg deur pous Boniface VI, wat self twee weke later oorlede is. Lambert en sy ma, die keiserin Angiltrude, het Rome binnegegaan rondom die tyd dat Stephen (VI) VII pous geword het, en die Cadaver Sinode is direk daarna, aan die begin van 897, uitgevoer.

Die dominante interpretasie van hierdie gebeure tot in die vroeë twintigste eeu was eenvoudig: Formosus was nog altyd 'n pro-Karolingiër, en sy bekroning van Lambert in 892 is gedwing. Na die dood van Arnulf en die ineenstorting van die Karolingiese gesag in Rome, het Lambert die stad binnegegaan en Stephen gedwing om die Cadaver-sinode byeen te roep, beide om sy aanspraak op die keiserlike kroon weer te laat geld, en miskien ook om postume wraak op Formosus te neem. [12]

Hierdie siening word nou as verouderd beskou, na aanleiding van die argumente wat deur Joseph Duhr in 1932 aangevoer is. Duhr het daarop gewys dat Lambert bygewoon het by die Ravenna -raad van 898, byeengeroep onder John IX. Dit was tydens hierdie proses dat die dekrete van die Cadaver -sinode herroep is. Volgens die geskrewe acta van die raad het Lambert die nietigheid aktief goedgekeur. As Lambert en Angiltrude die argitekte van die agteruitgang van Formosus was, het Duhr gevra: "hoe [. ] kon Johannes IX hom onderwerp aan die kanons wat die gruwelike sinode veroordeel het vir die goedkeuring van die keiser [dit wil sê Lambert] en sy biskoppe? Hoe kon Johannes IX die saak gewaag het [. ] voor die skuldige partye, sonder om eers die minste verwysing na die deelname van die keiser te maak? ” [13] Hierdie standpunt is deur 'n ander geleerde aanvaar: Girolamo Arnaldi het aangevoer dat Formosus nie 'n uitsluitlik pro-Karolingiese beleid gevoer het nie, en dat hy selfs laat in 895 vriendskaplike betrekkinge met Lambert gehad het. , op Benevento opgeruk en die Bisantyne daar verdryf. Formosus het paniekerig geraak oor die aggressie en gestuurde gestuurdes na Beiere gestuur om die hulp van Arnulf te soek. [14] Arnaldi voer aan dat dit Guy IV was, wat saam met Lambert en sy ma Angiltrude in Januarie 897 in Rome gekom het, wat die stukrag vir die sinode verskaf het. [15]


Die Kadawer -sinode: Die verhoor van die pous se lyk

Die verhoor van pous Formosus deur Jean Paul Laurens. Musée des arts Nantes.

Pous Formosus, geklee in die heilige gewaad van die pous, sit in waardige stilte op die pouslike troon terwyl sy beskuldiger, die nuwe pous, Stephen VI, aanklagte teen hom uitspoeg. Formosus word daarvan beskuldig dat hy 'die Universele Stoel in so 'n ambisie gees' [1] gebruik het, dat hy die kanonieke wet oortree het deur die bisdom van Rome te aanvaar terwyl hy nog biskop van Porto was, van meineed en dat hy probeer het om die amp van biskop uit te oefen leek ... .Formosus ’ die verlede het teruggekom om hom te spook.

Wedloop na bo

Stadsplan van Rome, met die Lateraanse paleis van die pous. Wikimedia via Met Museum Edward Pearce Casey Fund, 1983.

Rome, en by uitbreiding, die pousdom, was gedurende die negende en tiende eeu in 'n tydperk van onstabiliteit en onrus. Die rede hiervoor was dat die troon van die heilige Petrus nie net geestelike krag bied nie, maar tydelike krag. 'N Deel van hierdie mag kom uit die rol van die pous by die verkiesing van die Heilige Romeinse keiser. Sedert die dood van Karel die Grote was Rome en sy rykdom in die visier van die vele leërs en faksies wat ontstaan ​​het uit die ineenstorting van Karel die Grote se ryk. Hierdie skakel het beteken dat invloedryke en magtige gesinne almal hul man op die pouslike troon wou hê, en as u pous wou wees, het dit gehelp om kragtige ondersteuners te hê.

Pouse, selfs diegene wat deur magtige gesinne gesteun word, het met verrassende vinnig gekom en gegaan. Die pad na die hoë amp en uiteindelik die pouslike troon was besaai met gevare vir die ambisieuse geestelikes: politieke geweld, verraad en sluipmoorde was nie ongewoon nie. 'N Man moes genadeloos wees om bo te kom en sukses het nie 'n lang lewensduur verseker nie.

Gaan na Formosus, gebore omstreeks 816 CE in Rome. Formosus het gou 'n hoë vlugteling in die kerk geword. Hy is in 864 deur pous Nikolaas I tot biskop van Porto-Santa Rufina gemaak, en sy talente was van so 'n aard dat hy in 866 as pouslike ervare en gestuur is om die Bulgare te bekeer. Trouens, hy was so suksesvol in hierdie taak dat prins Bogoris van Bulgarye versoek het dat Formosus, en slegs Formosus, hul aartsbiskop sou word. As dit 'n Formosus -plan was, is dit in die wiele gery - die versoek is geweier omdat dit in stryd was met die kanonieke wet, wat verklaar dat 'n biskop nie sy eie kantoor kan verlaat om 'n ander te administreer nie ('n beskuldiging wat Formosus sou agtervolg). Selfs in hierdie vroeë stadium het Formosus moontlik reeds die oog op die pouslike troon gehad. En so 'n hoë ambisie skep vyande.

Pous Formosus via Wikimedia.

Ondanks hierdie persoonlike terugslag vlieg Formosus nog steeds hoog in pouslike opsig toe pous Adrianus II in 869 en 872 missies aan Frankryk toevertrou het, net soos pous Johannes VIII in 875.

Dit lyk egter of pous Johannes VIII Formosus as 'n bekruipende perd begin beskou het, en spoedig het die verhouding tussen die opkomende biskop en die pous begin versuur.

Die toenemende wantroue tussen Johannes VIII en Formosus blyk op die oppervlak te borrel oor die omstrede verkiesing van die nuwe keiser van die Heilige Romein, die beskrywende naam Charles the Bald, King of the Franken. Nie alle Romeine wou Karel die Kaal hê nie, daar was baie wat die weduwee-keiserin Engelburga en haar swaer, Louis die Duitser, ondersteun het. Formosus was moontlik een van hulle [2].

Johannes VIII het Formosus beveel om Charles uit te nooi om as die Romeinse keiser in Rome gekroon te word. Charles neem die troon in by Pavia en die Imperial Insignia in Rome op 29 Desember 875. Miskien het Formosus nie sy bevele met genoeg entoesiasme uitgevoer nie, want kort na die kroning van Karel die Kaal het Formosus uit Rome gevlug vir toere om weerwraak te ontvlug. Maar Tours was nie ver genoeg om John se misnoeë te ontsnap nie.

'N Sinode is op 19 April 875 opgeroep waarin pous Johannes VIII eis dat Formosus en ander vlugtelinge na Rome moet terugkeer. Formosus het miskien 'n strik gevoel en geweier. Hy is uitgesluit en uit die geledere van geestelikes verwyder. Ander beskuldigings was dat hy sy bisdom sonder pouslike toestemming verlaat het, daarna strewe om aartsbiskop van Bulgarye te wees teen die kerkreg, en dat hy saamgesweer het om die pouslike paleis te vernietig en die kloosters van Rome te verwoes het. Baie van hierdie bewerings sou tydens sy latere verhoor weer opgegrawe word.

In Julie is Formosus -ekskommunikasie aangekondig. Sy glinsterende loopbaan het skielik tot stilstand gekom, selfs sy ooglopende suksesse, soos sy sending na Bulgarye, is as ammunisie teen hom gebruik. Dit lyk asof pous Johannes VIII sy mededinger suksesvol afgelê het.

Maar dit was nie die einde van die aanvang van Formosus aan bewind nie, dit was net 'n pouse. In 878 het Formosus 'n eed afgelê om die verblyf uit Rome te beëindig en die priesteramp te beëindig om sy ekskommunikasie te herroep.

Die immer draaiende wiel van geluk het weer omgedraai en in 883 het 'n nuwe pous, Marinus I, Formosus in sy bisdom van Porto herstel. Sy voorspoed bly voorspoedig onder die daaropvolgende pouse St Adrian III en Stephen V. Formosus was werklik terug in die wedloop om die troon van St Peter.

Pous uiteindelik

In Oktober 891, 27 jaar nadat hy biskop van Porto geword het, is Formosus eenparig as pous verkies. Sy loopbaan sou daarop dui dat hy 'n bekwame, talentvolle en miskien charismatiese man was. Sy persoonlike sukses in Bulgarye, die vertroue wat die pouse wat hy gedien het, en nie die minste wantroue wat Johannes VIII hom as 'n mededinger beskou het nie, dui daarop dat sy ambisie goed by sy vermoë pas.

Pous Formosus. Publieke domein via Wikimedia.

As pous het Formosus nie op sy louere gerus nie; die negende eeu was immers vol interne magstryd in Rome en Italië, sowel as gespanne internasionale betrekkinge. Formosus is gevra om in te gryp in 'n geskil in Konstantinopel, waar sy teenoorgestelde nommer, die patriarg, uit sy amp onthef is deur 'n mededinger. Formosus was ook betrokke by geskille met betrekking tot die Franse kroon, tussen die graaf van Parys, en 'n ander Charles met nog 'n minder as vleiende soubriquet – Charles the Simple.

Nader aan die huis het Formosus probleme gehad met die huidige Heilige Romeinse keiser Guy III Spoleto, maar dinge het in April 892 tot 'n punt gekom.

Miskien het die Spoleto se sterk-arm taktiek, Formosus, nie 'n pous om dinge neer te lê nie, weerwraak deur Arnulf van Karinthië uit te nooi om Italië binne te val en die Spoletos uit te werp. Alhoewel Arnulf Italië wel in 894 binnegeval het, het die plan uitmekaar geval. Toe Guy III Spoleto in Desember sterf, het Formosus Arnulf genooi om weer te probeer, moontlik in reaksie op die optrede van 'n ander Guy, Guy IV Spoleto, wat onlangs Benvenuto binnegeval en die Bisantyne verdryf het.

In 896 het Arnulf Rome binnegegaan en deur Formosus tot Heilige Romeinse keiser gekroon, wat moontlik 'n sug van verligting geslaap het om uiteindelik van die wurggreep Spoleto op sy pousdom ontslae te raak. Die lot het egter ander idees, en Arnulf het siek geword en teruggekeer na sy koninkryk waar hy kort daarna gesterf het. Formosus verlaat ook hierdie wêreld op 4 April 896, waarskynlik van 'n beroerte, en word opgevolg met die uiters kortstondige pousdom van Boniface VI wat 'n indrukwekkende kort tydperk van 15 dae geduur het.

In 'n wêreld waar pouse slegs dae of weke sou duur, sou die naam en dade van Formosus vinnig uit die geheue verdwyn en slegs 'n paar reëls in die geskiedenisboeke verdien. Dit is egter wat ná sy dood gebeur het, wat sy bisarre plek in die geskiedenis verseker het.

Sinodus Horrenda

Die verhoor van pous Formosus deur Jean Paul Laurens. Musée des arts Nantes.

Die verhoor van 'n slegte pous lyk miskien nie ongewoon nie, behalwe dat Formosus in hierdie geval stil gesit en luister het na sy aanklaer wat bewerings teen hom uitskree, hy nege maande lank dood was.

Die lyk van pous Formosus tereggestel. Besonderhede.

Ja, Stephen VI, het die bisarre en makabere stappe geneem om sy voorlaaste voorganger se verrottende lyk te laat opgrawe, geklee in pouslike sieraad en op 'n troon in die Basiliek van St John Lateran te gaan sit, terwyl hy, die nuwe pous, as 'n baie dolle raad opgetree het vir die vervolging. Om eerlik te wees, het Stephen wel verseker dat die dooie pous self die aanklagte kan beantwoord. 'N Diaken is aangestel om as Formosus te praat en halfhartige antwoorde te lewer wanneer dit nodig is.

Pous Stephen VI, aan die ander kant, het hom blykbaar in die rol van kruisondervraging van die beskuldigde gewerp met te veel vitriol en ywer vir die smaak van die meeste mense, skreeuende beledigings en beskuldigings oor die vervalle lyk van sy mededinger. Selfs die mees siniese Romeine was effens ongemaklik met Stephen se godslasterlike manewales.

Pous Stephen VI beskuldig Formosus. Besonderhede.

Die uitslag van hierdie bisarre verhoor was nooit in twyfel nie, pous Formosus is skuldig bevind en Litupriand van Cremona, 'n tiende -eeuse kommentator, berig dat Stephen VI die lyk van Formosus ontneem het. Stephen sny daarna die drie vingers aan die regterhand van Formosus af, 'n simboliese gebaar, soos die regterkant gebruik is om seëninge te bied. Daarna is alle Formosus -handelinge en -ordinasies ongeldig gemaak (ironies genoeg, met implikasies vir Stefanus, aangesien Formosus hom as biskop verordineer het, en vir die komende jare 'n hoofpyn vir die kerk veroorsaak het).

Die lyk is toe uit die paleis gesleep en na die skare geslinger wat dit deur die strate getrek het. Aanvanklik is die liggaam van Formosus begrawe in die vreemdelinge begraafplaas, 'n begraafplaas vir buitelanders, maar dit was nie vernederend genoeg vir Stephen VI nie, en hy het die lyk laat opgrawe, en in 'n laaste daad van ontheiliging is dit geweeg en soos soveel vullis in die Tiber gegooi.

Rivier Tiber kyk na Vatikaanstad. Beeld deur Jean-Pol GRANDMONT – Eie werk, CC BY 3.0. Via Wikimedia.

Nadraai

Pous Stephen VI. Publieke domein via Wikimedia.

Die postume verhoor van pous Formosus is grusaam en bisar, maar wat was daaragter? Dit het pous Stephen VI beslis nie gehelp om sy mag te versterk nie - ver daarvandaan. Sy makabere optrede het in Rome nie goed afgeloop nie, veral toe 'n aardbewing tydens die kadaversinode die Lateraanse paleis beskadig het. Baie het dit as 'n teken beskou. Later het gerugte ook begin doen dat Formosus se lyk uit die Tiber uitgespoel het en wonderwerke verrig. Binnekort was Rome in oproer, was daar onluste op straat en Stephen VI was in die gevangenis gesit en uiteindelik doodgewurg, dit alles slegs 'n paar maande nadat hy sy verskriklike wraak op Formosus gesmee het. Later het pouse die dekrete van die Cadaver-sinode herroep en die eer van Formosus herstel en sy ordinasies herbevestig; dit lyk asof Formosus tog die laaste lag gehad het.

Simpatieke magie en Karolingiese neerslag

Waarom moet u so veel moeite doen om die reputasie van 'n dooie mededinger te vernietig? Een interessante interpretasie van hierdie pouslike Grand Guignol, voorgestel deur ER Chamberlain, is dat die daad van afbrekende Formosus -lyk 'n geval was van simpatieke magie. Stephen VI (en wie ook al aan sy toutrek getrek het) het die lyk van die voormalige pous gestroop en besoedel, en was ook van plan om die ondersteuners van Formosus simbolies te verneder en te ontneem. Die hele aangeleentheid dui op 'n herlewing van die antieke Romeinse gebruik van Damnatio Memoriae vir 'n Christelike gehoor [4].

Daar is verskeie teorieë waarom Stephen VI aan hierdie bloedige skouspel deelgeneem het. Eerstens kon hy eenvoudig kranksinnig gewees het; dit verg immers 'n sekere soort persoon om 'n lyk in so 'n uitgebreide en openbare skouspel te kan beledig en te verwoes. Dit pas skaars by die waardigheid van die pous. Alternatiewelik kon hy probeer om guns by Formosus -vyande te kry om sy eie greep op die pousdom te versterk.

Die Frankiese koning Karel die Grote en pous Adrianus I. Karel die Grote het noue bande met die pous gehad. Antoine Verard. Bron, openbare domein

Die mees prominente teorie was lankal gebaseer op faksionalisme rondom wie die Heilige Romeinse keiser moet wees. Na die dood van Karel die Grote het 'n rits onwettige nakomelinge om die rol gespeel. Formosus is as pro-Karolingiër beskou, maar Johannes die VIII het Guy III Spoleto as Heilige Romeinse keiser gekroon, wat die vlug van Formosus na Tours laat neerkom het. Later word vermoed dat Guy III Spoleto Formosus, toe hy pous was, gedwing het om sy seun Lambert in 892 te kroon. Formosus het Arnulf van die Franke, 'n Karolingiër, versoek om hom te help om van die Spoleto ontslae te raak, maar dit misluk toe Arnulf sterf, die Karolingiese mag in Rome in stukke laat, en die terugkeer van Lambert en sy ma, Angiltrude, moontlik maak om postuum wraak te neem [5].

Latere interpretasies deur Joseph Duhr in 1932, en ondersteun deur Girolamo Arnaldi, dui daarop dat die verhouding tussen Lambert en Formosus baie beter was as wat die bogenoemde teorie sou toelaat. Met verwysing na positiewe vriendelike verhoudings tussen Formosus en Lambert so laat as 895, stel Arnaldi voor dat verhoudings eers versuur het toe Guy IV, die neef van Lambert, Benvenuto binnegeval en die Bisantyne uitgeskop het. Om hierdie aggressie teen te werk, het Formosus weer 'n beroep op Arnulf gedoen om Rome binne te val.

Lambert van Spoleto. Publieke domein via Wikimedia.

Die alternatiewe teorie is dat toe Formosus en Arnulf gesterf het, Lambert en sy ma na Rome teruggekeer het, vergesel van Guy IV Spoleto, en dit was hy, nie Lambert nie, wat die belangrikste motor agter die Cadaver -sinode was [6].

Arnaldi noem verdere bewyse ter ondersteuning van hierdie teorie, en verklaar dat toe laasgenoemde pous Johannes IX besluit het om die bevele van die Cadaver -sinode te herroep, Lambert blykbaar aktief die rehabilitasie van die Formosus -geheue ondersteun [7]. Dit sou sekerlik 'n dapper of dwase pous wees wat die aanhitser van die sinode gekonfronteer het en probeer het om sy besluite om te keer?

Ek kan nie help om te dink dat daar baie persoonlike animusse betrokke was om 'n lyk op te grawe nie, maar dat die wraak daadwerklik so teatraal en simbolies 'n groter openbare doel gehad het. This purpose appears to have backfired, and rather than cementing the new pope and the Holy Roman Emperor’s power, actually destabilised it (in the following 12 months there were 4 more popes, some of whom only reigned for days or weeks). It may be that Lambert was more implicated in the cadaver synod than he wished to be, even if he was not its instigator. Perhaps, seeing the horror it evoked, and the political turmoil it caused, he was happy enough to put the past behind him and rehabilitate Formosus when John IX offered him the chance.


January 897, Rome: the exhumed corpse of Pope Formosus is put on trial, found guilty

January 897, Rome

The exhumed corpse of Pope Formosus is put on trial, found guilty.

In January 897 Pope Stephen VI charged controversial Pope Formosus with crimes against the papacy and called for Formusus to stand trial. However, Formosus had been dead for 7 months before the formal accusation. In a horribly misguided bid to gain favor from Formosa’s enemies, Pope Stephen VI moved to disinter Pope Formosus and have the corpse undergo a gruesome ecclesiastic trial, now known as the Cadaver Synod, or in Latin: Synod Horrenda.

By the end of the 9 th century, the Italian political scene was volatile. Political rivalries spilled into the religious arena effecting a tumultuous succession of popes. Various powerful houses would back different papal candidates whose policies would benefit their own interests. With so many competing allegiances, a spate of mysterious deaths befell newly inaugurated popes who sometimes only served for a few days before being poisoned until their deaths. In this hostile climate, religious rivalries flourished.

Suspicions about Formosus started well before he was elected pope. Two decades before the Cadaver Synod, Pope John VIII accused Formosus of violating canon law by attempting to administer as bishop to more than one see and of conspiring to usurp the papacy. Formosus fled Rome to escape the accusations under threat of excommunication, finally returning to the city after John VIII died in 882. Just nine years later, and with three more popes elected and poisoned deceased, Formosus was elected pope. He served for four years, until his poisoning death in 896. Shortly after, Pope Formosus’-successor’s-successor Pope Stephen VII hoped to capitalize on the scandal that Formosus had left behind. Pope Stephen VI called Formosus to stand trial against the claims of Pope John VIII.

At the trial Formosus’ body, seven months dead, was clad in papal vestments and propped upright in a chair. While Pope Stephen VI screamed accusations and insults at the corpse, a young deacon provided the voice and rebuttals for Formosus. Unsurprisingly, deceased defendant Formosus (as speaking through a deacon) did not provide a compelling defense for his crimes. Thus Pope Stephen VII declared Formosus guilty of perjury, transmigrating sees, and posing as a bishop.

After the verdict, Formosus’ papacy was declared annulled in damnio memoriae: all of his deeds invalid. The papal vestments were torn from Formosus, and his three blessing fingers on the right hand severed to indicate that all his consecrations would be undone. Ironically, while alive Formosus had ordained Stephen VI as bishop. The undoing of the ordination would paradoxically make Stephen VI ineligible to be pope.

The trial concluded, Pope Stephen VI was not finished being spiteful. To further dishonor Formosus, Stephen VI ordered that the corpse be buried in cemetary land reserved for foreigners. Shortly after, to the increasing horror of the public, Formosus was exhumed a second time, weighted, then tossed into the Tiber River. Eventually his body washed up on shore. Reports spread that the body of Formosus performed miracles on the shore, and public opinion further turned against Pope Stephen VI.

Despite clumsy attempts to win people over by denouncing Formosus and repeatedly desecrating the corpse, the public rose against Pope Stephen. He was deposed, arrested, and strangled in prison months after the Cadaver Synod. Pope Formosa was reinterred at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Two of Pope Stephen VII’s successors, Pope Theodore II (897) and Pope John IX (898-900), nullified the Cadaver Synod. Though Pope Sergius III (904-911) overturned their nullifications and reinstated the findings of the trial. Despite Pope Sergius III having the last word, the church does not sanction it today, nor do they allow any more posthumous trials.

Contributed by Odd Salon Speaker Isolde Honore, who created a Cadaver Synod Stick Figure History

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Synodus Horrenda: The Macabre Trial of the Corpse of Pope Formoso - History

HELPFUL FACTS Helpful historical facts

Cadaver Synod (897) – meaning, an unimaginable papal macabre

Cadaver synod, Jean Paul Laurens, 1860, pic. Wikipedia

Pope Stephen VI, from Le vite dei pontifici, 1710, Bartolomeo Platina

Pope Formosus, 1588 r., Cavallieri, pic. Wikipedia

Pope Sergius III, from Le vite dei pontifici, 1710, Bartolomeo Platina

The pages of the history of the Church are full of incredible events, often shocking and arising contempt, but the one known as the Cadaver Synod (synodus horrenda) is definitely among the most preposterous ones. Its protagonists are two popes &ndash one alive, the other quite dead. This episode also marks a certain chapter in the history of the Catholic Church, in which popes became pieces of a political game, forgetting about their authority and spiritual status. The fought like common highwaymen, for their position, properties and prestige, while the methods they used were cruel and inhumane.

The pages of the history of the Church are full of incredible events, often shocking and arising contempt, but the one known as the Cadaver Synod (synodus horrenda) is definitely among the most preposterous ones. Its protagonists are two popes &ndash one alive, the other quite dead. This episode also marks a certain chapter in the history of the Catholic Church, in which popes became pieces of a political game, forgetting about their authority and spiritual status. The fought like common highwaymen, for their position, properties and prestige, while the methods they used were cruel and inhumane.

In January 897, Pope Stephen VI , elected a few months earlier, ordered the tomb of his predecessor &ndash Formosus to be opened, dressed the corpse in pontifical robes and had it placed on a throne. He presented the nine-month-old corpse to the bishops and lay public gathered in the Lateran Palace and began his prosecuting speech. After a three-day-long trial Formosus was dethroned and stripped of his robes. Three fingers (the ones with which he took the oath, blessed people and made the sign of the cross), were cut off, then his corpse was pulled through the Roman streets and thrown into a nameless grave. If that was not enough, after three days, it was taken out of the grave and cast into the Tiber, such that all traces of Formosus would be lost. All images of him were also destroyed, as well as all the legal acts he issued. It was also forbidden to speak his name.

We may ask, what had Formosus done to deserve such a cruel fate, what wicked deed had he committed, to be treated in a way that ridiculed all Christian values? In order to understand the reasons behind this deed, we must get to know the situation in Rome at the end of the IX century. The popes residing in the city, had already for some time been confronted with the struggles of the conflicted families and factions, happening in Italy. As was always the case, these were battles over power, lands, the crown of the king of Italy and the imperial purple. Without an army of their own, besieged by attacks from internal and external foes, the popes sought out support and military aid, while they displayed kindness to those who at a given moment seemed to be more useful to them. On the other hand those considered useless &ndash without any regard for the papal authority immediately became the pope&rsquos bitter enemies. The pope also had to contend with intrigues at his own court, as well as with the insubordination of the clergy surrounding him. The pontificates of each individual pope lasted quite short &ndash the fewer protectors a successor of St. Peter had among the Roman aristocracy, the shorter his pontificate lasted (sometimes fewer than one hundered days). However, let us start at the beginning. At the end of the IX century Italy experienced a fearsome struggle over power and domination between the Margrave Berengar I of Friuli and Guy II of Spoleto. Ultimately it was the latter who triumphed, since it was he &ndash a simple duke from a rather pedestrian territory &ndash whom Pope Stephen V had crowned as king of Italy and placed the imperial crown upon his head. Berengar, as we can imagine, was not willing to accept this state of things, but fortunately the pope died in the very same year. His successor was the seventy-five-year-old Formosus . Initially, he confirmed both coronations of Guy, at the same time crowning his son Lambert as co-ruler and heir to all titles (in the event of the death of his father). However, the pope did not support the rulers of Spoleto, while his sympathies were rather directed towards Berengar, but in fact a stalemate had been reached. Any kind of change would have probably resulted in resuming the fighting. When in 894 Guy died, the armies of the teenage Lambert and his mother Ageltrude entered Rome, while they themselves went to Formosus, who confirmed the tiles of the young king and emperor. However, as soon as the Spoletini had left the city, the pope had an idea, which to him seemed &ndash perhaps &ndash an excellent tactical maneuver, but &ndash as it turned out, bore horrible consequences. Remembering the coronation of Charlemagne as emperor in the year 800 and the responsibilities of the Carolingians to defend the papacy, the bishop of Rome turned to the king of the Eastern Franks, Arnulf of Carinthia (the great-grandson of Charlemagne) to ask for help in defeating the &ldquoevil Christians&rdquo. Arnulf, lured with the perspective of an imperial crown, entered Rome in the year 896, occupied the properties of Lambert, freed the pope who had been in hiding, and allowed himself to be crowned as emperor. Of course, the pope had already previously dethroned Lambert. However, Formosus&rsquos act was unacceptable not only to his enemies. The proud Romans were not pleased with this &ldquosupport&rdquo of the pope, they did not like a stranger walking around in the city with his armies. In addition the newly crowned emperor Arnulf was unable to deal with the enemies of the pope, since he became paralyzed and returned to Germany (he died in the year 899). In this way Formosus was suddenly left alone, without any protectors and guardians, but luckily for him he died in the very same year. His successor Boniface VI died under mysterious circumstances two weeks after his enthronement and then Pope Stephen VI appeared, a supporter of the Spoletini. Their armies once again entered the city. They were led by the dethroned emperor Lambert (now seventeen years old) and his mother Ageltrude. We can only imagine, how in the chambers of the Lateran Palace, after an exquisite dinner, with wineglasses in hand, they thought of a way to bring back the old order and put an end to this rather difficult predicament in which all three had found themselves. Lambert was a dethroned emperor, Ageltrude the mother of the ex-emperor, while Arnulf the legal emperor anointed by the head of the Church, was paralyzed in the far North. In addition the selection of Stephen as pope, just as previously the election of Formosus could arise some legal doubts. Apparently all three could think of nothing better than doing something preposterous, but quite logical from the legal point of view. In times when violence was the obvious way of solving a problem, their plan probably seemed to them neither macabre nor morally reprehensible.


During the trial described above, the prosecutor, meaning Pope Stephen VI himself, accused his predecessor of usurping his post and breaking the bishop&rsquos oath. According to tradition, but also according to cannon law, receiving a bishop&rsquos ring was a symbol of an unbreakable bond of the bishop with his bishopric. Therefore, it could not be changed at one&rsquos whim, and if it did happen, it was only in exceptional cases. Therefore, Formosus as the bishop of Porto could not have become the bishop of Rome. Finding him guilty and annulling all his decrees and appointments, both the coronation of Arnulf of Carinthia as emperor and the ordination of Stephen as the bishop of Anagni were deemed invalid. This was done since Stephen himself was also a usurper according to the law. If that was not enough Stephen VI ordered all clergy who were ordained by Formosus to submit a written statement, in which they recognized their ordination as invalid. It should therefore, come as no surprise that the amount of the enemies the new pope made grew daily, while Rome was divided between his supporters and the sympathizers of the former Pope Formosus, who was more and more often seen as a martyr. When in the very same summer, due to an earthquake the dome of the Lateran Basilica - the most important at that time papal church &ndash collapsed, the Roman populace saw it as a sign of God. An anti-pope rebellion broke out, which ended with Stephen VI being imprisoned and then strangled. This act however, did not silence the conflicts and intrigues at the papal court. When St. Peter&rsquos throne was once again occupied by a supporter of the anti-Formosus faction, Sergius III (904), he ordered Formosus&rsquos corpse to be once again taken out of its tomb, accused it once again and as before it was thrown into the Tiber.

Both &ndash Stephen VI, and Sergius III afterwards &ndash in the name of the law sentenced their adversary. Here, we can see a glimpse of an ancient Roman tradition, in the same way as the memory of inconvenient emperors was erased &ndash damnatio memoriae. However, the Romans (pagans) practiced this tradition in the symbolic dimension (destruction of statues, removal of names) and that was sufficient, while the popes between the IX and X centuries were only satisfied after the body of their rival was posthumously desecrated.

How then can we come to an understanding of this difficult to fathom and going against all Christian values vendetta? Cases of annulling the decision of one pope by another were by no means rare, as were cases of ascension to St. Peter&rsquos throne by a bishop of another diocese. The emperor could be dethroned without annulling a decree which appointed him. So where did this limitless hatred come from? We will probably never find out, since it is hidden in the difficult to recognize and understand places of the human soul.


Ana the Imp


You might think that the dead are beyond all human judgement. Now they are, by and large, at least physically reputations are still subject to posthumous scurrility. But in the past even one’s physical remains could not always escape some form of earthly reprisal, often in a kind of symbolic act.

I can think of several examples from English history. John Wycliffe, a medieval theologian and reformer, was burned as a heretic forty-five years after his death. The remains of Oliver Cromwell, John Bradshaw and Henry Ireton, who formed part of the court that sentenced Charles I to death in 1649, were exhumed when the monarchy was restored in 1660. They were then hanged, drawn and quartered, the punishment for treason.

I suppose these examples – and there are others – are bizarre enough. They are not nearly as bizarre, though, as putting the dead on trial. Yes, it has happened. And I don’t mean that the deceased was subject to judicial process by absentia, so to speak. No I mean when the person in question, or what was left of them, was taken from the grave so they could be physically present in court.

It couldn’t happen in English law because the dead can’t plead, retaining not a right to silence, just silence. But it has happened and happened right in the heart of Christendom. So, let me introduce to you Pope Formosus and the Synodus Horrenda – the Cadaver Synod or Trial – an episode I think I can safely say is without parallel in the history of the church.

Formosus was Pope from 891 to 896, during a particularly troublesome period for the Catholic Church. Prior to his elevation he had been Bishop of Porto, during which time he was pursued by ecclesiastical and political controversy, even being excommunicated at one point by Pope John VIII, who accused him, amongst other things, of attempting to seize the papal throne.

Although the interdict was finally lifted and Formosus acquired sufficient authority to be elected Pope in his own right, his already dubious background was made ever murkier by the politics of the day, when rival candidates competed for the honour of the Imperial throne. In the end the Pope seems to have been little more than a victim of circumstances, taking the wrong political side.

The Cadaver Synod, ordered by Pope Stephen VI, his successor but one, opened sometime in the course of 897, months after Formosus’ death. The whole thing seems to have had a clear political purpose though why things proceeded in such a macabre way is difficult to say, when simple condemnation for past misdeeds would have sufficed. Instead the corpse was disinterred, dressed in papal vestments, brought into the papal court where it was seated on a throne, there to face a trail on the basis of the charges once lodged by John VIII, the prosecution being lead by Pope Stephen in person. At one point he even asked the cadaver why he “usurped the universal Roman See in such a spirit of ambition.” Needless to say no answer is recorded.

In the end it was declared that Formosus had been unworthy of the papal honour. After being stripped, literally, of the papal vestments and condemned to damnatio memorie – damnation of memory, a custom once practiced by the ancient Roman Senate – he was finally cast into the Tiber, another ancient custom inflicted on disgraced emperors.

The whole thing was just too absurdly gruesome even for those days, turning public opinion against Stephen, who was deposed and strangled in prison. Formosus himself was fished out of the Tiber and reputed to be the cause of miracles.

But matters did not rest there. The unfortunate Formosus, who travelled as much in death as in life, was reputedly disinterred for a second time in the early tenth century during the pontificate of Sergius III, an ally of Stephen, who had taken part in the first Cadaver Synod. Once again he was tried and found guilty, this time his head being cut off. It’s as well to remember that the history of the papacy was as colourful, as brutal, as fascinating and as decadent as the history of the emperors who preceded them in the eternal city.


The Cadaver Synod: When a Dead Pope Was Put on Trial

In 897 A.D., Catholic Pope Stephen (VI) VII had a grudge against a predecessor. Enraged by the actions committed by Pope Formosus nearly thirty years earlier, the new pope wanted justice by any means necessary. And the necessary action he took was to put Pope Formosus on trial – despite being dead for nine months.

This particular trial was known as the Cadaver Synod (also known as the Cadaver Trial or, in Latin, the Synodus Horrenda). In one of the strangest events in the history of the medieval papacy, a dead pope was exhumed, tried by a papal court and found guilty of crimes that would be considered minor by today’s standards. Yet behind this macabre trial, a political struggle between powerful European families was at play. And it would be this game of medieval politics that would have serious repercussions for Pope Stephen VI, and the late Pope Formosus.

Although the Holy Roman Empire had emperors, the popes had the power, for they ruled over a confederation of European states and kingdoms loosely connected by the Catholic Church. They could decide the fate of countries declare wars or crown emperors and kings throughout Europe. This was particularly true during the 9th century when Rome and Italy were united by unstable governments and internal turmoil.

Yet, with all the power these popes had, they were usually aligned or controlled by powerful aristocratic families. In many cases, these families gained power by electing a pope. This relationship often blurred the line between who was in power and who was being controlled.

From this turmoil, the Cadaver Synod’s origins were born. However, much of the intrigue found behind the scenes of papal power was not played out in front of the public. Instead, the truth was covered up. The “official accusation” of this trial was an example.

Formosus quickly came to a solution to his problem he “invited” the Franks to invade Italy. Arnuf obliged in 896, deposing Lambert.

The charge levied against Formosus by Pope Stephen VI was that he violated church law by serving as Bishop of Rome while he was still the bishop of a different diocese (Christianity-guide, 2011). The charges, however, hid a real motive Formosus supported Stephen and his ally’s enemies for the Holy Roman Empire’s crown.

During his papacy, Formosus had been forced to crown Lambert, a son of the powerful Duke of Spoleto, as co-ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. However, Formosus was no alley to the Spoleto family. He favored the illegitimate descendant of Charlemagne and leader of the Frankish people, Arnuf of Carinthia.

Formosus quickly came to a solution to his problem he “invited” the Franks to invade Italy. Arnuf obliged in 896, deposing Lambert. The pope wasted no time crowning Arnuf as the new Emperor.

This didn’t last long. Arnuf was struck with paralysis during a military campaign, and Formosus died on April 4, 896.

Formosus’s successor, Pope Boniface VI didn’t last long. Two weeks after ascending to the papacy, Boniface died of what many believe was gout. Others, believe he may have been forced out to make way for Stephen VI (and, as a side note, Boniface would have his own synod in 898, in which John IX pronounced his election as null and void).

Stephen VI’s reign as pope didn’t last long, either. It lasted merely a year and a half, and much of that time was centered on this trial against Formosus.


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