Friday, December 03, 2004

What's in a Name?

Inquiring minds want to know, so I include this interesting bit of papal jurisprudence from Old Europe courtesy of

The Cadaver Synod or Cadaver Trial was held in January of 897 by Pope Stephen VII over the rotting remains of Pope Formosus, to condemn the deceased pontiff, nine months after his death (896), for crimes against the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Stephen VII exhumed the body of his predecessor, dressed it in papal vestments, and seated it on a throne to undergo a trial, with Stephen presiding. The pretext of these proceedings was that, contrary to the laws of the church, Formosus had agreed to be the bishop of Rome while he was still the bishop of another diocese. His actual offense was that he had crowned as Emperor one of the illegitimate descendants of Charlemagne, after he had already crowned the candidate favored by Pope Stephen. The corpse was granted the benefit of a defender, who nevertheless did not speak, as Pope Stephen shouted accusations and insults at the dead man. Formosus was declared guilty. His corpse was stripped, dressed in the clothes of a layman, and three fingers were cut from its right hand; the body was then buried, quickly exhumed, dragged through the streets of Rome and then thrown into the Tiber. The ordinations performed by Formosus were annulled.

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