Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pope Stephen VI and the Cadaver Synod

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Stephen VI [r. 5/22/896-8/897]
Pope Stephen VI was forced by Emperor Lambert and his mother Ageltruda to conduct the Cadaver Synod.{1} His caving into secular pressure led to one of the most bizarre and embarrassing episodes in Church history. He had the body of Formosus exhumed and placed before an unwilling council while a deacon answered charges that Formosus acted as a bishop after being deposed and illicitly passed from the See of Porto to the Holy See.{2} The body of Formosus was divested of the papal vestments and the fingers to give the sign of benediction were severed, and he was clothed as a layman and quickly buried.{3} It was ultimately re-exhumed and thrown into the Tiber River.{4} Stephen forced a number of men ordained by Formosus to resign.{5} Before he was strangled in prison he granted a few privileges to churches.{6}

Notes & References
{1} Mann, Horace. "Pope Stephen (VI) VII." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 29 Nov. 2008 <>.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.

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