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Pope Benedict IX

Pope Benedict IX (Theophylactus, c. 1012 - maybe 1055 or 1065) was pope from 1032 to 1045. The son of Alberich III, count of Tusculum, and nephew of Pope Benedict VIII and Pope John XIX. His father obtained the Papal chair for him, granting it to his son in October 1032.

It has been stated that Benedict was no older than twelve when made pontiff. Some sources even claim eleven! If this were true, then he would be the youngest pope ever. But the Catholic Encyclopedia [1] and other sources claim that he was around 18 to 20 years old. Since his precise date of birth is unknown, we can say with certainty only that he must have been one of the youngest popes.

Benedict was entirely unsuited to be pontiff; he reportedly led an extremely dissolute life, although in terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. He was briefly forced out of Rome in 1036 and needed the support of Emperor Conrad II to return. In January 1044 he was forced from the city again and replaced by Antipope Silvester III. Benedict's forces returned in April and expelled his rival.

Benedict then resigned in June possibly desiring to marry, selling his office to Priest John Gratian, his godfather (possibly for over 650 kg of gold). Gratian became Pope Gregory VI in May, 1045. Benedict apparently soon regretted the sale and returned to try and depose Gregory, Silvester also re-emerged to make his claim. Benedict retook Rome and remained on the throne until July 1046. King Henry III intervened and at the Council of Sutri in December 1046 Benedict and Silvester were deprived of their offices and Greogry was encouraged to resign, Benedict did not actually attend. The German Bishop Suidger was crowned Pope Clement II. Benedict rejected this and when Clement II died in October 1047 he seized the Lateran Palace in November, but was driven away in July 1048 and Poppo of Brixen as Damasus II finally succeeded Clement. Benedict refused to appear on charges of simony in 1049 and was excommunicated.

Benedict's fate is obscure, he may have given up and resigned the pontificate, dying around 1065 in the Abbey of Grottaferrata. Pope Leo IX may have lifted the ban on him. Another report is that he continued to seek support for a return but died in January 1055 or 1056.

Preceded by:
Pope John XIX
List of popes Succeeded by:
Pope Gregory VI (1045-46)
Pope Damasus II (1048)