[St. Pachomius Library]

Pope Sylvester II

(Known before his election as GERBERT OF AURILLAC)
X/XI Centuries
The first Frenchman elected pope, Sylvester was so widely-educated that his contemporaries said he must be in a league with the devil. Born Gerbert c. 945, he began his studies at Aurillac, where he later became abbot. In Spain, he learned music, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy. His skill at math so impressed John XIII that he recommended Gerbert to Otto I as a tutor for Otto II. In that post, Gerbert continued his own education and studied logic under Gerann of Rheims. Otto made Gerbert abbot of Bobbio, where he was unpopular with the monks. In 987, Gerbert became secretary to Hugh Capet, who appointed him archbishop of Rheims four years later. Gerbert was as unpopular with the clergy in his diocese as he had been with the monks at Bobbio. He was removed from this post in 995, when the Council of Monzon determined that the previous archbishop had been wrongfully deposed and was the rightful archbishop. Otto II choose Gerbert to succeed Gregory V in 999 and gave the pope the eight counties of the Pentapolis (Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia, Ancona and the adjacent territories). The Romans rebelled against Otto and Sylvester in the same year and drove both from Rome. Sylvester was later allowed to return as spiritual leader only. He died the following year.

Karen Rae Keck


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