History of the PAPACY

SEE ALSO Borgias Home | History of the Vatican | Renaissance Popes | Borgias Historical Profiles

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History of the Papacy - THE  BORGIAS   wiki
A collection of true, odd, and holy stories from the Popes that have held the office of the Vicar of Christ

St Peter was the first Pope for the Catholic Church. Pope Pius IX served the longest with 31 years, 7 months and 23 days.
St Peter the Apostle
Pope Saint Peter
Pope John XII

John XII was Pope from 955 to 964. On 963, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I summoned a council, levelling charges that John had ordained a deacon in a stable, consecrated a 10-year-old boy as bishop of Todi, converted the Lateran Palace into a brothel, raped female pilgrims in St Peter's, stolen church offerings, drank toasts to the devil, and invoked the aid of Jove, Venus, and other pagan gods when playing dice. He was deposed, but returned as pope when Otto left Rome, maiming and mutilating all who had opposed him. On 964, he was apparently beaten by the husband of a woman with which he was having an affair, dying three days later without receiving confession or the sacraments.
The Blessed Victor III (1086-87) was said to have be succeeded by a talented female known as Joan who, disguised as a man had worked her way up in the curia as a notary and had eventually been promoted to Cardinal. She was betrayed when, mounting her horse give birth to a child and was ignominiously tied to the horse's tail, dragged round the city, and then stoned to death.

Pope" Joan
Corpse pf Pope Formosus

Pope Stephen V I (896-897) fuelled with anger with his predecessor Pope Formosus exhumed his rotting corpse and put "him on trial" in the so called "Cadaver in Synod" The corpse was propped up and a deacon appointed to answer for the deceased who was condemned for performing the functions of a bishop when he had been deposed.

The corpse was found guilty, stripped of its sacred vestments, deprived of 3 fingers of his right hand (the blessing fingers), clad in the garb of a layman and quickly buried, then re-exhumed and thrown in the Tiber.
Many believe that Pope John Paul II (1978 - 2005) was the best pope ever to have reigned. He travelled extensively during his reign and was often pictured kissing the ground when he embarked from an aircraft.

After two assassination attempts the pope used the bullet-proof " pope-mobile" when saying mass for enormous crowds. There was a large outpouring of grief displayed at his death. In 2009 he was given the title "Venerable" by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Pope St Pius X
Pope St Pius X
Pope Pius X was the first pope since Pope Pius V (1566 - 1572) to be canonised on 29 May 1954. Pius X held the papacy from June 1835 to Aug 1914. Pius combined within himself a strong sense of compassion, benevolence poverty but also stubbornness and a certain stiffness. He wanted to be pastor and was the only pope in the 20th century who gave Sunday sermons every week. His charity was extraordinary, filling the Vatican with refugees from the 1908 Messina quake, long before the Italian government began to act on its own. He rejected any kind of favours for his family; his brother remained a postal clerk, his favourite nephew stayed on as village priest, and his three sisters lived together close to poverty in Rome. He often referred to his own humble origins, taking up the causes of poor people. I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor. Considered a holy person by many, public veneration of Pope Pius began soon after his death. Numerous petitions resulted in an early process of beatification.

Pope Innocent IV

Pope Innocent IV

Innocent IV was Pope from 1243 to 1254. Certainly The Inquisition represented the darkest of Roman Catholic Church history,and it was Innocent IV who approved the use of torture to extract confessions of heresy. He aggressively applied the principle that "the end justifies the means". It is shocking to learn about the deranged instruments of torture that were used on so many innocent people. One of the most famous people to suffer at the hands of Roman Inquisitors was Galileo Galilei. The church condemned Galileo for claiming that the earth revolved around the sun.

Pope St Gregory VII

Was elevated to the papacy in 1073 and served until his death in May 1085. Gregory VII was one of the great reforming popes.

With reform as the centerpiece of his pontificate. He assembled synods and issued decrees that forbade, under pain of excommunication, clerical marriage, concubinage, and simony - the buying or selling of ecclesiastical pardons and offices. He also demanded that newly-elected bishops take an oath of obedience and visit the Holy See. He is also known as Pope Gregory the Great.

Pope St Gregory VII (The Great)

Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XIII

The Venerable Pope Pius XII born (2 March 1876 –
9 October 1958), reigned as the 260th Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958.
His leadership of the Catholic Church during World War II remains the subject of continued historical controversy.

Hitler's Pope and The Myth of Hitler's Pope
In 1999, John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope criticized Pius for not doing enough, or speaking out enough, against the Holocaust. Cornwell argued that Pius's entire career as the nuncio to Germany, cardinal secretary of state, and pope was characterized by a desire to increase and centralize the power of the Papacy, and that he subordinated opposition to the Nazis to that goal. He further argued that Pius was anti-Semitic and that this stance prevented him from caring about the European Jews.
Pope John XXIII
held papacy from 1958 - 1963

Known affectionately as "Good Pope John" and "the most beloved Pope in history" to many people, on 3 September 2000, John was declared "Blessed" by Pope John Paul II, the penultimate step on the road to sainthood. He was the first pope since Pope Pius X to receive this honour. Following his beatification, his body was moved from its original burial place in the grottoes below St Peter's Basilica to the Altar of St. Jerome and displayed for the veneration of the faithful. At the time, the body was observed to be extremely well-preserved—a condition which the Church ascribes to embalming and the lack of air flow in his sealed triple coffin rather than to a miracle. When John was moved, the original vault above the floor was removed. A new vault was built beneath the ground, and Pope John Paul II was later buried in this vault.

Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII

Pope Adrian IV

Pope Adrian IV

Nicholas Breakspear was born in Hertfordshire around 1100 and is famous for being the only English Pope. His papacy lasted from 1154 until his death in 1159.

Adrian's death is recorded as quinsy but he actually choked to death swallowing a fly in his wine.

PAPACY FROM 867 - 872

Pope Adrian II (also known as Hadrian II), pope from 867 to 872, was the last married pope. He had married before he was elected pope, and refused to put away his wife Stephania when he became pope. For a while he, his wife, and a daughter lived in the Lateran Palace together.

Pope Liberius


Pope Liberius is the first Pope not to be canonised a saint. He reigned during the height of the Arian crisis during which a large majority of the Church believed that Jesus was not God, but merely a man. The Arian heresy was fought against by the Patriarch of Alexandria Saint Athanasius who consecrated Bishops without permission.

Pope Liberius, rather than defending Athanasius, signed a document that supported those against him and condemned Athanasius. Nearing the end of his pontificate he recanted his signature and reinstated Athanasius. While the Pope did not embrace the heresy himself, he did not use his power fully to put an end to it. His reign did nothing to stop the confusion spreading throughout the Church.

Pope John XV was pope from 985 to 986. John's venality and nepotism had made him very unpopular with the citizens, as he split the church's finances among his relatives and was described as "covetous of filthy lucre and corrupt in all his acts".

Pope John VX
Pope Honorius III
Pope Honorius III
Pope from 1216 to 1227

He was born Cencio Savelli in 1148, in the city of Rome. He succeeded Pope Innocent III. He was very highly thought of by the people and this was in part because he was a son of Rome, but also because he used kindness and indulgence instead of force and severity to achieve his goals of change for the church. He did require his Bishops and Cardinals to be well educated.

You might say that Honorius III was everything that Pope Alexander VI was not. But there is a very strange curiosity about Honorius III.....there is a book that has been attributed to being penned by him that makes one ponder.
Pope Urban VII

Pope Urban VII
Held Papacy from
14.9.1590 - 27.9.1590

Pope Urban VII (4 August 1521 – 27 September 1590), born Giovanni Battista Castagna, was Pope for thirteen days in September 1590. He was of Genoese origin, although born in Rome. He was created Cardinal-priest of S. Marcello in 1584. He was chosen successor of Pope Sixtus V (1585–90) on 14 September 1590, but died of malaria (27 September 1590) before coronation, making his either the shortest or second shortest papal reign in history, depending on whether Pope-elect Stephen is considered a real pope (he has not been so considered by the Catholic Church since 1961).
The Grimoire of Pope Honorius
The Grimoire of Pope Honorius

This book contains all kinds of black magic about how to summon demons and how to defeat them.
There is some controversy about whether or not Honorius wrote this but many refer to him as the "Papal Sorcerer of the Middle Ages". It is said that he encouraged priests to study this book and learn how to deal with demons. Black magic and demons....not exactly what one would automatically think a pious Pope would pen....but interesting fodder for thought!
Pope Sergius III

Sergius III (904-11), known by his cardinals as "the slave of every vice," came to power after murdering his predecessor. He had a son with his teenage mistress — the prostitute Marozia, 30 years his junior — and their illegitimate son grew up to become the next pope. With top Vatican jobs auctioned off like baubles, the papacy entered its “dark century.”

Pope Pius V (17 January 1504 – 1 May 1572), born Antonio Ghislieri (from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri), was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardisation of the liturgy. Pius V declared Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church and patronised prominent sacred music composer Giovanni Palastrina.
Pope Saint Pius V
Pope Saint Pius V