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In 897, the pope dug up his dead predecessor and put his corpse on trial
06-11-2018, 08:33 PM
Post: #1
In 897, the pope dug up his dead predecessor and put his corpse on trial
This week’s entry: Cadaver Synod

What it’s about: One of the strangest moments in both the papacy and the legal profession. In 897, Pope Stephen VI (confusingly sometimes called Stephen VII) claimed the pontiff two leaders prior, Pope Formosus, was illegitimate, and put Formosus on trial for usurping the Holy See. This was only mildly complicated by the fact that Formosus had died a year earlier.

Biggest controversy: Formosus also had plenty of trouble with the papacy while he was alive. In 864, Formosus was elevated to Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina, in Rome, and then sent to Bulgaria as a missionary. He was so popular among the Bulgarians that they requested him as their bishop. The request was denied by then-Pope Nicholas I, as bishops were not allowed to move from one post to another. But Formosus’ popularity was noted (and seems to have been his only crime).

When Nicholas died in 867, John VIII became pope, and must have had it in for Formosus from the start, because the bishop fled Rome. The new pope publicly claimed Formosus corrupted the Bulgarians, convincing them not to accept any other bishop in his place, and that this was a stepping stone to Formosus usurping the papacy itself. John excommunicated Formosus and several associates.
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