The POPE Encyclopedia

by Matthew Bunson

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Over  the  centuries,  many  popes  have  been  murdered  or
assassinated.  The  first  to receive this dubious honor was
Pope John VIII, who in  882  was  first  poisoned  and  then
clubbed  to  death  by  scheming court menbers. Most murders
happened in the Middie  Ages,  especially  during  a  period
described  by  a  scholar  named  Cardinal  Baronius  in his
Annales ecclesiastici as the Iron Age of  the  Papacy,  from
867  to 964 when powertul families such as the Crescentii or
Theophylact had pontiffs elected,  deposed,  and  killed  to
advance  their  political  ambitions in Rome or as vengeance
for some action taken by the pope that might  have  offended
them  or inconvenienced some plan or plot. Of the twenty-six
popes during this era, sexen died  by  violence.  In  modern
times,  fortunately  no pope has been assassinated so far as
any  official  record  has  proven.  This  has  not  stopped
conspiracy   theorists   or   the  highly  imaginative  from
speculating on the worst. Theories and claims  of  murderous
cabals  blossomed in ghoulish fashion following the death of
Popes Clement XIV in 1771 and the  sudden  passing  of  John
Paul I in 1978.
Pope  Clement  was  reportedly  so  racked  with  guilt over
disbanding the Jesuits that he spent his last years terified
of  being  poisoned.  After  his  death,  so  prevalent were
stories about his possible murder that a full postmortem was
conducted.  It  found nothing, but enemies of Jesuits spread
lies that they had done the dirty deed.
In the case of John Paul I, some theorized that he had  been
killed  by  Soviets;  other  more  exotic and even laughable
proposal placed possible guilt with the Jesuits  again  (the
pope  was  supposedly  planning  to  disband the order), the
Freemasons and the secret organization in Europe called P-2,
officials  at the Vatican Bank, or even high-ranking members
of the Curia. These  were  dismissed  out  of  hand  by  the
Vatican,  which  brought in its own investigatior, who found
no evidence of a plot or even a cover-up. (See John Paul I.)
Pope John Paul II was nearly murdered in St. Peter's  Square
in  1981  by  Mehmet  Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman who perhaps
working for Bulgarians and the KGB.
The following is a list of murdered pontiffs and the way  in
which they are thought to has been removed:
John VIII (872-882): Poisoned and clubbed to death
Adrian III, St. (884-885): Rumored poisoned
Stephen VI (896-897): Strangled
Leo V (903): Murdered
John X (914-928): Suffocated under a pillow
Stephen VII (VIII) (928-931): Possibly murdered
Stephen VIII (IX) (939-942): Mutilated and died from injuries
John XII (955-964): Suffered a stroke while with a mistress
   or murdered by an outraged husband
Benedict VI (973-974): Strangled by a priest
John XIV (983-984): Starved to death or poisoned
Gregory V (996-999): Rumored poisoned, probably malaria
Sergius IV (1009-1012): Possibly murdered
Clement II (1046-1047): Rumored poisoned
Damasus II (1048): Rumored murdered
Boniface VIII (1294-1303): Died from abuse received while a
   captive of the French in Anagni
N.B. This list does not include the antipopes, who routinely
died  by  Violence  or  execution such as Boniface VII (974,
984-985), who was murdered by a mob and left under a  statue
of Marcus Aurelius to be stabbeb by passersby.

(sebelum, sesudah)

Published by Crown Trade Paperbacks
201 East 50th Street, New York
New York 10022, USA
ISBN 0-517-88256-6

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