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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. 237-238.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 896-897.

STEPHEN the Seventh, a Roman, Bishop of Anagni, being made Pope, persecuted the memory of Formosus with so much spite, that he abrogated his decrees and rescinded all 237 he had done, though it is said that it was Formosus that conferred the Bishopric of Anagni upon him. But this I take to be the effect of his ambition; the clergy being come to that pass, that they were so far from needing compulsion, as formerly, to take upon them the pontificate, that now they sought it with bribery; and hence it was that Stephen, because Formosus had hindered him before of this desired dignity, exercised his rage even upon his dead body; for Martin the historian says he hated him to that degree, that in a council which he held, he ordered the body of Formosus to be dragged out of the grave, to be stripped of his pontifical habit and put into that of a layman, and then to be buried among secular persons, having first cut off those two fingers of his right hand, which are principally used by priests in consecration, and thrown them into the Tiber, because contrary to his oath, as he said, he had returned to Rome and exercised his sacerdotal function, from which Pope John had legally degraded him. This proved a great controversy, and of very ill example; for the succeeding Popes made it almost a constant custom either to break or abrogate the acts of their predecessors, which was certainly far different from the practice of any of those good Popes whose lives we have written. In our own time, Paul II., a Venetian, had like to have taken upon him the name of Formosus (which would have been agreeable enough to him, being a proper man and of a venerable aspect), but that the Cardinals, remembering his story, dissuaded him, lest that should happen to him after his death which did to this Formosus; but Paul was hardly wrought upon, as thinking nothing but this name to be wanting to his felicity. Meantime the Emperor of Constantinople, taking occasion from the sloth of the Popes, sends one Symbaticus, a nobleman, his sword-bearer, with an army into Italy, who, after a siege of three months, takes Beneventum, after it had been in the possession of the Lombards three hundred and thirty years; but three years after, Guy, of Lombardy, retook it, and drove out the Greeks, and so it fell to the Lombards again. But to return to Stephen, he died in the first year and third month of his papacy, and the see was vacant three days after his death.


 1  “Pontificuli.” Ed. 1551.

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Previous Pope: 115. Boniface VI. 115. Stephen VII. Next Pope: 117. Romanus.

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