Another little-known pope, it is said that his clergy loved him, that he loved peace, and that he lived a life of chastity and charity to the poor. He came to power soon after a low point of the papacy. Pope Theodore annulled the acts of the “Cadaver Synod,” which had put on trial the corpse of his predecessor, Pope Formosus. He recovered the dead Roman Pontiff’s body from the River Tiber and gave it a proper burial. He also reinstated clergy who had been forced to resign.
Sisinnius was pope for 21 days, Jan. 15–Feb. 4, 708.
This pope was born in Syria. His health troubles included disabling arthritis, and he was unable to feed himself. The papacy was responsible for the military defense of Rome at this time, with Lombards invading from the north of Italy and Muslim armies advancing from the south. Sisinnius ordered the walls of Rome to be reinforced as his first act, the New Catholic Encyclopedia says. Before he died, Pope Sisinnius ordained one priest and consecrated a bishop for Corsica.
Marcellus II was pope for about 22 days in April and May, 1555.
He was born Marcello Cervini, at Montefano in Tuscany. Like the sainted Pope Marcellus of the fourth century, he kept his baptismal name as his papal name.
His father worked under several pontificates as a scribe and secretary.
Before Cervini was elected pope he served various roles as a secretary to popes and cardinals, including work to correct the Julian calendar. He was actively engaged with the “New Learning” of Renaissance humanism. He served as protector of the Vatican Library and helped improve and expand its collection. Cervini served the Vatican at the time of its response to the Protestant Reformation. He was a president at the Council of Trent, which continued through his short pontificate.
He gained a reputation as a Church reformer and had hoped to pursue this path during his papacy. He was not consecrated a bishop until the day after he was elected pope.
Pope Marcellus reputedly became sick from overwork during the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter, and the illness turned fatal.
The Missa Papae Marcelli of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was composed in his honor.
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Damasus II reigned for 24 days in July and August, 1048.
This pontiff was named Poppo. He was born in Bavaria and was of German extraction. He served as Bishop of Brixen in Tyrol, in what is now western Austria.
Popes at the time could be nominated in an unusual manner. Pope Damasus II was named by Holy Roman Emperor Henry III. The pope, however, soon died of malaria.
Pius III was pope for 27 calendar days, Sept. 22–Oct. 18, 1503.
He was born Francesco Todeschini in Siena. He was the nephew of Pope Pius II, a famous Renaissance-era pope. His uncle took him into his household and became his patron, allowing the young man to add the pontiff’s family name Piccolomini to his own last name.
Francesco studied canon law. His uncle named him to become administrator of the Archdiocese of Siena and later made him a cardinal-deacon.
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