Stephen VI/VII, Pope of Rome
Born in Rome, Stephen was a member of the ruling house of
Spoleto. Before he was elected pope in 896, he was bishop
of Agnani. Shortly after his election, he ordered the corpse
of his predecessor, Formosus, disinterred, and he tried the
dead pontiff on various charges in what is now called the
Cadaver Synod. Formosus, whose part was taken by a deacon,
was found guilty, and his corpse was mutilated and thrown
into the Tiber. Stephen declared all of Formosus' ordinations
invalid and required that any clergyman whom Formosus had
ordained write a letter acknowledging that his ordination
had been and was invalid. Formosus had ordained Stephen,
who argued that he had been ordained against his will.
However, he did accept demotion and was reordained. The
basilica of the Lateran collapsed not long after this
bizarre event, and many credited divine judgement.
Fifteen months after his election, Stephen was ousted
and imprisoned; he was strangled in prison. Rumors
abound that he was insane.
Karen Rae Keck
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