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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 230-231.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 867-872.

HADRIAN the Second, a Roman, son of Talarus a bishop, was a familiar friend of Pope Sergius, who having once given him forty julios, when he came home he gave them to his steward to give to the beggars and poor strangers that were at his door; which the steward going to do, saw the number was so great, that it would not serve a quarter of them, and so he returned and told Hadrian: who hereupon takes the money, and coming to the poor folks, gave every one three julios, and reserved to himself as many for his own use; at which miracle the steward being astonished, “Dost thou see,” says Hadrian, “how good and bountiful the Lord is to those that are liberal and charitable to the poor?” By this and other virtues he grew into so high estimation with all men, that when the consultation was held for making a new Pope, they unanimously elected him, and brought him against his will from the church of St Mary ad Præsepe to the Lateran, and immediately created him pope, not regarding the consent of any person in a proceeding so tumultuary: which gave great offence to the ambassadors of the emperor, who came on purpose upon this occasion, but could not (as they ought) interpose the imperial authority in this election. But satisfaction was made to them by remonstrating that it was impossible in so great a tumult to moderate the violent inclinations of the multitude; they were desired therefore to concur with the clergy and people, and, according to custom, to congratulate as Pope this excellent man whom they had chosen; this at last the ambassadors did, though they saw plainly that the clergy and people did arrogate to themselves the full power of creating a Pope, without expecting the consent of any temporal prince; and this perhaps in order to enlarge the liberties of holy Church by making it a custom. Soon after arrived letters from Louis, highly applauding this action of the Romans, and commending them that they had proceeded so religiously and sincerely in this affair, without waiting for the approbation of any one, whose ignorance of the fitness of the candidates might render them incompetent judges in the case. “For how,” said he, “can it be that one that is a foreigner and a stranger, should be able in another 231 country to distinguish who is most worthy? To the citizens, therefore, does it properly belong, and to those who have had familiarity with, and knowledge of, the competitors.” Hadrian then being made Pope, took diligent care of all matters relating to religion, and by word, example, and authority, both of himself and his predecessors, exhorted all men to good and holy lives; particularly he showed himself a strenuous defender of those that had been oppressed by injustice and the power of great men. He caused a Council to be called at Constantinople; the sentence against Photius was renewed. In this Council a long debate was held, whether the Bulgarians (whose ambassadors were present) should be subject to the Roman or Constantinopolitan see; and by the favour of the emperor Basilius, they were adjudged to the see of Rome, whereupon the Bulgarians, making their applications to Hadrian, that some man of good life and ability might be sent into their country, by whose authority and example they might be retained in the Christian faith, he sent three most religious men with plenary power to settle the churches there as they should see fit.1 They were Sylvester, the sub-deacon, Leopardus of Ancona, and Dominic of Trevisa, who soon composed the whole affair to the Pope’s mind; though it was not long ere the Bulgarians, corrupted with gifts and promises by the Constantinopolitans, expelled the Latin priests and received the Greeks; and this sedition gave occasion to many quarrels betwixt the Greeks and Latins. Hadrian, still opposing himself to all the enemies of the Church as much as was possible, when he was about to anoint Charles Emperor, in the room of Louis now deceased, died himself in the fifth year, ninth month, and twelfth day of his Popedom. A little before his death it rained blood for three days together at Brescia, and France was miserably wasted with locusts; both certain presages of his much lamented death.


 1  A very different version of this Bulgarian episode will be found in Robertson, “Ch. Hist.,” ii. 368-393. — ED.

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Previous Pope: 108. Nicolas I. The Great. 109. Hadrian II. Next Pope: 110. John VIII.

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