|Birth name||Theophylactus of Tusculum|
|Born||Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire|
|Died||c. December 1055/January 1056 (age 43)|
Grottaferrata, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
|Other popes named Benedict|
|Papal styles of|
Pope Benedict IX
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
Pope Benedict IX (Latin: Benedictus IX; c. 1012 – c. 1056), born Theophylactus of Tusculum in Rome, was Pope on three occasions between October 1032 and July 1048. Aged approximately 20 at his first election, he is one of the youngest popes in history. He is the only man to have been Pope on more than one occasion and the only man ever to have sold the papacy.
Benedict was the nephew of his immediate predecessor, Pope John XIX. In October 1032, his father obtained his election through bribery. However, his reputed dissolute activities provoked a revolt on the part of the Romans. Benedict was driven out of Rome and Pope Sylvester III elected to succeed him. Some months later, Benedict and his supporters managed to expel Sylvester. Benedict then decided to abdicate in favor of his godfather, the Archpriest of St. John by the Latin Gate, provided he was reimbursed for his expenses. Gratian then became Pope Gregory VI. Benedict subsequently had second thoughts and returned, and attempted to depose Gregory. A number of prominent clergy appealed to Henry, King of the Germans to restore order. Henry and his forces crossed the Brenner Pass into Italy, where he summoned the Council of Sutri to decide the matter. Benedict, Sylvester, and Gregory were all deposed. Henry then nominated the bishop of Bamberg, Suidger von Morsleben, who was consecrated and became Pope Clement II in December 1046, thus clearing the way for Henry to be immediately crowned Holy Roman Emperor by a Pope recognized as legitimate.
While Benedict IX has an execrable reputation as pope, R.L. Poole suggests that some of the calumnies directed against him be understood in the context that they were perpetrated by virulent political enemies.
Benedict was the son of Alberic III, Count of Tusculum, and was a nephew of Pope Benedict VIII and Pope John XIX. He was also a grandnephew of Pope John XII. His father obtained the Papal chair for him by bribing the Romans.
Horace K. Mann, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia says Benedict IX was about 20 when made pontiff in October 1032. Other sources state 11 or 12, based upon the unsubstantiated testimony of Rupert Glaber, a monk of St. Germanus at Auxerre. Benedict IX reportedly led an extremely dissolute life and allegedly had few qualifications for the papacy other than connections with a socially powerful family. In terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox.
His life was incredibly scandalous, and factional strife continued. The anti-papal historian Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote that in Benedict, "It seemed as if 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." Horace K. Mann calls him "a disgrace to the Chair of Peter". He was the first pope rumoured to have been primarily homosexual. Pope Victor III, in his third book of Dialogues, referred to "his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts of violence and sodomy. His life as a pope was so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it."
According to Reginald Lane Poole, "In a time of acute political hostility accusations, as we know too well, are made and are believed, which in a calmer time would never have been suggested." He further suggests the credibility of such accusations was determined by probability rather than proof, and a reaction to the Tusculum hegemony.
Poole observes that "we have to wait until he had discredited himself by his sale of the Papacy before we hear anything definite about his misdeeds; and the further we go in time and place, the worse his character becomes". Poole considers Benedict "a negligent Pope, very likely a profligate man", but notes that the picture presented of Benedict is drawn at a time when the party opposed to him was in the ascendant, and he had neither friends nor supporters.
He was briefly forced out of Rome in 1036, but returned with the help of Emperor Conrad II, who had expelled the bishops of Piacenza and Cremona from their sees. Bishop Benno of Piacenza accused Benedict of "many vile adulteries and murders".
In September 1044, opposition to Benedict IX's dissolute lifestyle 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 returned to his previous bishopric.
Doubting his own ability to maintain his position, and wishing to marry his cousin, Benedict decided to abdicate, and consulted his godfather, the pious priest John Gratian, about the possibility of resigning. He offered to give up the papacy into the hands of his godfather if he would reimburse him for his election expenses. Desirous of expurgating the See of Rome of such an unworthy pontiff, John Gratian paid him the money and was recognized as pope in his stead, as Gregory VI. Peter Damian hailed the change with joy and wrote to the new pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy, singling out the wicked bishops of Pesaro, of Città di Castello and of Fano.
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 reasserted his claim. A number of influential clergy and laity implored Emperor Henry III to cross the Alps and restore order.
Henry 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 because the arrangement he had entered into with Benedict was considered simoniacal; that is, to have been paid for. The German Bishop Suidger was crowned as Gregory's successor, 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 the abbot, he was penitent and turned away from his sins as pontiff.
Benedict is usually recognized as having had three terms as pope:
|Theophylact I, Count of Tusculum|
|Hugh of Italy|
(also married Marozia)
|Alberic I of Spoleto|
|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|
|Alberic III, Count of Tusculum|
|Pope John XIX|
|Peter, Duke of the Romans||Gaius||Octavianus||Pope Benedict IX|
Cuius vita quam turpis, quam freda, quamque execranda extiterit, horresco referre
|Catholic Church titles|