Pope Formosus: Dug Up and Put on Trial
Which Pope Was Dug Up and Tried?
The incredible story of Pope Formosus who was dug up, and put on trial by an angry, and apparently crazy rival.
Hello and welcome to History Bites, I’m Rick Green. Most people think our political system produces lousy leaders.
Voters complain that candidates are elected just because they look good, mind you the complainers are the ones who voted these incompetents into power, but if you think our present system of choosing leaders is flawed you should have seen what it was like eleven hundred years ago.
Back then the leaders were the kings, and the Pope’s. The kings came to power through birth and battle, popes were supposed to be elected, but popes were routinely deposed, imprisoned, or murdered, and sometimes all three to make way for a new candidate.
Probably the most insane event in this tumultuous period was a trial that took place in January of 897, when the current Pope, Stephen the seventh, put one of his papal predecessors on the stand.
So let’s go back to witness a church trial so strange that it can only be described in three words, perfect for television.
Parody of The Practice
Thanks for coming Mr. Donelli I realize you’re busy deacon.
I’m always happy to help the Vatican. So what’s this all about?
We want you to defend a certain retired church official in an upcoming case.
What’s the charge?
Charge is perjury, violating Church cannons, and coveting the papacy.
Sounds serious, who’s the defendant?
The names Formosus.
But didn’t Formosus die like nine months ago?
No seven months.
I’ll leave you two to get acquainted. Anything you say to me will be privileged and miraculous.
Why did Pope Stephen pick me to represent Formosus? He could he could have chosen any cleric in the Vatican.
You’re a good lawyer and a good Deacon.
I’ve lost my last six cases.
So maybe Pope Stephen wanted to make it seven.
Let me just say when you get in court consider insanity.
Have Formosus plead insanity?
No consider Pope Stephen might be nuts.
TV Guide: Battle of The Network Bishops
So throw out those whips, spiked chains, and rods, and it’s not just for monks, many Nobles ashamed of their wealth and luxury are ordering the hair shirt too.
Pope Formosus Interview
Pleased to meet you. Well the thing is this Mr. Formosus we are sworn to do the best job we can defending. The charges here are very serious you could get life, although I suppose for you that would be okay.
Ironically Formosus was a great Pope but he only survived for a while. Between the years 896 and 904 there were nine Pope’s, an average of one a year. One was poisoned and when the poison didn’t work quickly enough they beat his head in with hammers.
Another had his eyes, nose, lips and hands removed, another died in bed killed, by the jealous husband of the woman he was sinning with, but even in that corrupt atmosphere the trial of Formosus struck most church officials as beyond weird.
This whole case stinks. Starting with your client. You know these are serious charges but Formosus is not willing to talk. I mean why? He just came back from the grave, you know how few people get that chance?
You think he’s trying to protect someone?
Maybe. The new Pope’s prosecutors must know something.
20 20 Parody
Here in Rome they are calling it the trial of the century but has Madame justice gone too far? Why would Pope Stephen put a deceased rival on trial? Is Pope Stephan crazy? I put these questions to the bones of Saint Andrew
Oh no no he was a good man he was very honest you know.
No he even wore one of those hair shirts you know the itchy ones and the monks wear.
Back then each papal candidate was backed by a kind of political party groups of nobles who wanted to see their Pope in power. Stephen belonged to a different party