1000 years ago: deep in the archives

A thousand years ago our forebears lived in a “dark age.” They themselves did not think it was dark and they were only half wrong…

…Our Western world was unquestionably Catholic, although the Church sanctified relics of pagan practice and the simple made of the faith a mere bargain with the saints for preservation and salvation. The papacy set the worst of examples; it underwent a moral slump not to be matched until the coming of the Borgias. Election to the papal throne was controlled by a clique of Roman nobles and the infamous Marozia, mistress of one pope, mother of another, grandmother of a third. Of her grandson John XII, Edward Gibbon reports: “his rapes of virgins and widows had deterred the female pilgrims from visiting the tomb of St. Peter,lest, in the devout act, they should be violated by his successor. ”

—dedicated to sexually active popes, and John XII tops the list. The only thing that separates Johnny from Caligula is vomitoriums and the fact that John didn’t make a horse a senator. Other than that, his life story could easily have been produced by Hustler and directed by Gore Vidal.
Now, before we begin, let’s review. John got his position by siding with Otto I of Germany, who he then crowned Holy Roman Emperor. Otto had been gone for like five minutes before John decided that Otto now had too much power and began conspiring against him with Otto’s enemies. Unfortunately, Otto intercepted the letters, and marched right back to depose John.
John was summoned to answer charges, but refused to come out of hiding. So all these criminal accusations are coming from a very pissed off king eager to bitch-slap the Pope. Still, some of them are so specific that you can’t help but feel there must be some truth behind them.
The Patrologia Latina lists John’s offenses as adultery, rape when the offered adultery was turned down, incest when his sisters also said no, banging his niece, his dad’s girlfriend and as many prostitutes as he could, and the legend goes that to top it all off, he died in bed of a stroke while having it off with a married woman. Oh, and supposedly he castrated a deacon and let him bleed to death.Read More:http://blogs.houstonpress.com/artattack/2012/04/borgias_corrupt_pope.php?page=2

In the year 973 Benedict VI was elected; he was strangled, one year later, by direction of Marozia’s sister. Papal turpitude did not, however, infect the great structure of the Church. At a council of French bishops in 991 the Bishop of Orleans would dare to characterize the papal regime as the coming of Antichrist.

The bishops were mighty men. As feudal lords, administrators of colossal estates ( in Germany as much as a third of the territory), they wielded temporal as well as spiritual power, and they ruled as well as, or better than, their noble peers. At least they were much less likely to go to war.

—Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia)
Detail from a Fresco of the Resurrection, painted in 1492 – 1495 by Pinturicchio
The Wikipedia article, “The Bad Popes” follows the list of eight scoundrels, from Russell Chamberlain”s book of the same name:
Pope Stephen VI (896-897), who had his predecessor Pope Formosus exhumed, tried, de-fingered, briefly reburied, and thrown in the Tiber
Pope John XII (937-964), who gave land to a mistress, murdered several people, and was killed by a man who caught him in bed with his wife.
Pope Benedict IX (1032-1044,1045,1047-1048), who “sold” the Papacy…Read More:http://socrates58.blogspot.ca/2007/12/bad-popes-how-many-of-em-were-there-how.html

The spiritual life centered in the monasteries. Some of these, to be sure, settled into a comfortable routine, with a minimum of mortification of the flesh. The monks of Farfa, near Rome, when summoned to reform, rebelled and poisoned their abbot. Even Saint Benedict’s own Monte Cassino was relaxed. A certain Calabrian zealot made a pilgrimage thither. Under its walls he heard from within the sound of a guitar; and he was informed that the monks took regular baths. Shuddering, he returned to his hermitage. ( to be continued)…

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