Pope Benedict IV was the fourth pope to use the name Benedict and the 117th pope in history. He served as pontiff for more than 1,200 days.
The man who would become Pope Benedict IV was born in Rome in what was likely 840. His father was a man by the name of Mammalus. Not much else is known about his early life. He likely received his calling early in life and devoted himself to the Church. Pope Formosus appointed him a priest at some point.
First Papal Act
Not long after becoming pope, Benedict IV excommunicated the leader of Flanders. Known as Baldwin II Flanders, he was a follower of the Church. Baldwin II murdered Archbishop Fulk of Relms early in 900. This occurred after the archbishop gained control of a local abbey. Not long after the murder, the pope excommunicated him.
Holy Roman Emperor
The only other act that Pope Benedict IV performed was the crowning of the next Holy Roman Emperor. He gave the position to Louis of Provence. Louis II was the former ruler of Italy and the grandfather of the young man. The crowning made Louis of Provence Louis III. Berengar of Friuli would later become the ruler and send Louis III out of the country. Louis III also had the nickname Louis the Blind.
Death and Final Days
During his final days, Pope Benedict IV granted privileges to several monasteries and showed his sympathy to some monks and others driven from their homes by invaders. He passed away on July 30, 903, not long after Louis III left Italy. There are rumors that Berengar had something to do with his death. Berengar would remain the King of Italy until 915 and then become the Holy Roman Emperor until his death in 924. Though he was an efficient ruler, his time was plagued with opposition from the Church.
Quick Facts About Pope Benedict IV
- Pope Benedict IV was born in the Papal State of Rome, circa 840.
- His birth name was Benedetto.
- He died on July 30, 903.
- There were rumors that his death occurred at the hands of an Italian king. Records do not show any evidence of that.
- The papacy of the pope began on February 1, 900.
- His papacy ended when he died in 903.
- Pope Leo V succeeded him as the next pope.
Interesting Facts About Pope Benedict IV
- Though he chose the name Benedict upon becoming pope, he chose it because of its connection to his birth name. Other popes chose the name because of the order with a similar name.
- Pope Benedict IV was pontiff for 1,274 days, which is roughly three years and 179 days.
- He was likely 60 when he became pope and 63 when he passed away. Historians are unsure of his exact age because no records indicate his exact date of birth.
- The Church only has information about the first nine popes named Benedict due to Liber Pontificalis. This is a book published in ancient times that included short biographies on some of the early popes. Even the Church does not have official records of the early popes.
- Frodoard was a historian born in 894 who passed away in 966. While working as an archivist, he became close friends with Pope Leo VII and gained access to some of the historical records stored in Rome. That was when he began documenting some of the past popes. Frodoard thought that Benedict IV was an impressive pope and bestowed upon him the Great nickname. Some of the information that we have available today comes from his records.