Pope Stephen VI and the Cadaver Synod

Originally posted 12/10/2008.

An explanation of what transpired during the infamous reign of one of the “Bad Popes,” Stephen VI of Rome [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 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14289d.htm>.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.

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2 Responses to Pope Stephen VI and the Cadaver Synod

  1. […] See Will R. Huysman (12/10/2008), “Pope Stephen VI and the Cadaver Synod” @ https://thebananarepublican1.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/pope-stephen-vi-cadaver-synod/. {2} Ibid. {3} Ibid. {4} Ibid. {5} Poole, Reginald L. (1917). “Benedict IX and Gregory […]

  2. […] will be useful for studying the cases of Popes St. Silverius the Martyr (536-537), Stephen VI (896-897), John X (914-928), John XII (955-964), Benedict V (964-965), Benedict IX (1032-1045, 1047-1048), […]

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