Spirituality for Today – Spring 2020 – Volume 24, Issue 3

The 137th Pope
John XV

Pope John XV (985–996) – Somehow the Holy Spirit motivated future popes to follow the succession of their former namesakes. The pope and anti-pope controversies clouded the elective process from time to time: Pope John XIV (died while imprisoned) and antipope Pope Boniface VII was considered the predecessor of the pope were are considering now. Interestingly, the successor of Boniface VII took the name of John XV (not XIV) and the next pope to take the name Boniface was Boniface VIII (not VII).

Pope John XV addressed, for the most part, political concerns of his day. He settles disputes between royal parties, Poland became a papal fief. French bishops acted independently in naming an Archbishop of Rhiems. The pope challenged them and a synod suspended the non–canonical action of the French bishops. His political entanglements took an unfortunate turn on the death of Empress Theophano. His support was weakened. His greed and nepotism angered the Roman clergy and people. He fled the city and reached out for help from the Emperor Otto III. When word arrived in Rome that the emperor was coming to the city, Pope John was invited back and re–instated.

One notable fact was that Pope John XV was the first pope to canonize a saint; Uric, bishop of Augsburg. Fever would take the life of the pope in 996. Pope John was buried in the Basilica of Saint Peter.

Habemus papam