Pope Benedict III

Pope Benedict III was the third pope to use the name Benedict, which he picked in honor of his birth name. He was also the 104th pope of the Roman Catholic Church and served for 921 days from the years 855 to 858

Like many of his predecessors, his papacy came during a period marked by political intrigue and conflict within the Church and the Carolingian Empire.

Benedict III was elected after the death of Pope Leo IV, but his ascension was not without controversy.

Despite the challenges of his era, Benedict III is remembered for his doctrinal decisions and his role in maintaining the stability of the papacy during a tumultuous time.

This article will help interested readers learn more about Pope Benedict III.

Early Life

Born to an unnamed mother and a father named Peter, Benedict I used the name Benedictus during his younger years. He was born in Rome and grew up in the then Papal States.

His family had enough money that they could send him to school for formal education. Much of his early life was spent in the Lateran school. Benedict spent more than two years working as a bishop before becoming pope.

Papal Choice

The cardinal-priest of San Marco was the first choice for the new pope following the death of St. Leo IV. Leo IV died on July 17, 955. When Church officials announced their decision, they were surprised when the cardinal-priest turned down the position. After suggesting several other names, they settled on Benedict who became pope on September 29 of that same year.

Confrontation with Louis II

Louis II was the emperor at the time and believed that he had to approve the pope. As he did not approve of Benedict, he instead named Anastasius as the new pope. Anastasius was the son of a bishop and became an antipope. When Louis II imprisoned Benedict, Catholics were so upset that they demanded his release and worked with the emperor to instill Benedict as the pope.

Pope Benedict III’s Time as Pope

Pope Benedict would later work with King Lothair’s sons after his death as the men fought over who should rule. Noting the problems that the fighting had on the people in the kingdom, he wrote to other leaders and implored them to take action. Some of those letters are still available today.

He also helped repair and restore the Schola Anglorum, which suffered severe fire damage before he became pope. Several raids that swept through the region in the 840s also suffered from extreme damage. Benedict used Church funds to repair those buildings and open them back up to followers. After his death, he was buried near the gates of the old St. Peter’s Basilica.

Quick Facts About Pope Benedict III

  • Pope Benedict III was born in the Papal States region of Rome circa 810.

  • His birth name and name used before becoming pope was Benedictus.

  • He died on April 7, 858.

  • Benedict III died of what was probably natural causes.

  • Elected pope in 855, he took the position on September 29.

  • His papacy ended following his death in April of 858.

  • Nicholas I was his successor and would later become a Catholic saint.

Interesting Facts About Pope Benedict III

  • Benedict III still ranks as one of the only popes ever imprisoned. He spent a short period in custody as the antipope ruled.

  • Pope Joan was a rumored woman who once served as pope. Some still believe that there are few historical records relating to Benedict because Joan was the true pope during his reign. A papal coin issued during his time as pope is the main proof that Pope Joan never existed.

  • Benedict had less experience working for the Church than many of the other men who served as pope. He only worked as a bishop for around 30 months before becoming pope.

  • Many historians credit Benedict’s imprisonment with weakening the control and grasp of the emperor. Future emperors had little control over the Church or its actions.

  • Though he spent several months in custody, members of the Roman Catholic Church continued to follow Benedict rather than the antipope.

List of Other Popes Named Benedict

There has has been 15 Popes that have taken the name Benedict in the history of the papacy. Below are links to all of them.

Also check out all of the other Popes the begin with the letter B.