POPE from 1032 to 1044, again in 1045, once once more in
1047-1048. One of the most corrupt and notorious of all
popes, Benedict IX is distinguished for selling the throne
of St. Peter and for being the only pontiff to reign for
three different periods. The nephew of the two Tusculani
popes Benedict VIII and John XIX, he was the son of Count
Alberic II of Tusculum, receiving an arranged election as
pope through the bribes of his father. Consecrated on
October 21,1032, he was reportedly only ten or twelve at
that time --this is probably not accurate; he was most likely
in his twenties. Regardless, the next twelve years were
spent in utterly dissolute fashion. He was scandalous,
sensual, and violent, remaining on the throne only by the
threat of arms. Finally, in 1044, the Romans rose up against
him through the conspiring of the Crescenti family.
Benedict was driven from the city, and on January 20, 1045,
the Crescenti installed John of Sabina as Sylvester III.
Benedict refused to give up, excommunicating Sylvester and
returning to power on Marxh 10. This time, he could last
only two months. On May 1, he took the outrageous step of
selling the throne to his godfather Giovanni Graziano, a
priest who took the name Gregory VI; technically, he
accepted a bribe to step down, but realistically, he had
given the money in return of the office.
By the next year, Benedict had come to regret his act. He
thus reappeared in Rome, marking the presence of three pope,
himself, Gregory VI, and Sylvester III. Summoned to the
Synod of Sutri in 1046, he refused to go, remaining behind
the walls of the fortress of Tusculum. Nevertheless, the
synod, under the ruler Henry III of Germany, deposed all
three and appointed Suidger of Bamberg as Clement II.
Clement soon died (perhaps by poison) and Benedict installed
himself on November 8, 1047.
He was forced out yet again at the command of Emperor Henry
on July 16, 1048, in favor of Damasus II. Benedict refused
to recognize his deposition, spouting vitriol at Damasus and
his succesor Leo IX from his fortress. There is a long
tradition that just before his death, Benedict renounced his
terrible life and died a penitent at Grottaferrata in Alban
Hills. His date of death is uncertain. Successors: Sylvester
III, Gregory VI, Clement II, and Damasus II.