Spirituality for Today – Spring 2017 – Volume 21, Issue 4

The 125th Pope
Pope John XI

An image of Pope John XI, the 125th PopePope John XI, the 125th Pope

Pope John XI (391–395) – He was the illegitimate son of the man who would become Pope Sergius III of the very influential Theophylact family. The Abbey of Cluny (909) was given approbation by this new pope. In an act that highly disturbed the Eastern Church, Pope John, at the request of the Byzantine emperor, gave his blessing to the selection of the emperor's teenage son as patriarch of Constantinople. He managed to stir up the proverbial hornet's nest by officiating at a wedding. Hugh of Provence married a woman named Marozia who was the widow of his brother – at the time this relationship was not in accord with canon law – and raised suspicion among the Roman people of the danger of having a foreigner occupying a ruling position. Alberic II was the son of Morozia. Hugh managed to insult him in some manner at the wedding feast. Alberic took advantage of the Roman people's unrest at the marriage and fashioned a revolt against Hugh. Hugh escaped the revolt, but his wife and Pope John, along with others, were sent to prison. Morozia disappeared from historical record. After some time, Pope John was released and spent his days confined to the Lateran. He was little more than a servant to Alberic II and his reign was one of impotence and limited to sacramental care.

Habemus papam