Pope Damasus II

Pope Damasus II was the second pope named Damasus and reigned for only 24 days in 1048. He was only the third pope in history who was born in Germany. This article looks at both the short reign of Pope Damasus II and his early days.

Early Life

Though records do not show much about his life before becoming pope, Damasus II was born around 1000 in a region that was part of the Duchy of Bavaria. He was noble by birth and had resources that others lacked. Known as Poppo, he underwent some early training and later became a bishop. While working in Germany, he became close to King Henry III. When the pope crowned Henry III the Holy Roman Emperor, Poppo traveled with him to the ceremony.

Papal Choice

Unlike other popes who were elected to the position, Poppo was chosen by King Henry III. The Church trusted him because he helped dispose of Pope Gregory VI, which led to Clement II becoming pope. When Clement II passed away, a group visited the King and offered him the suggestion of Halinard, an archbishop, for the open position. Though one of his advisors suggested that he give the throne back to Gregory VI, he instead chose Poppo.

Benedict IX

King Henry III accompanied Poppe on his way to Rome but heard that the Church did not agree with his choice. Benedict IX decided that he should once again be pope and encouraged others to side with him. Though Poppo asked for support, others refused him. He returned to Germany without becoming pope.


Poppo returned to Rome with a letter signed by the Holy Roman Emperor. This led to the exile of Benedict IX. Romans celebrated Poppo and installed him as Pope Damasus II. A large celebration held by the city welcomed him to the throne and led to his coronation on July 17.

Just a few weeks later, he traveled from Rome to Palestrina. The heat in Rome was insufferable at the time and left the pope feeling drained and tired. He believed that he could recover in Palestrina and later return to Rome. Not long after arriving, he became ill from malaria. Pope Damasus II died of the illness on August 9, 1048, reigning for only 24 days.

Quick Facts About Pope Damasus II

  • Pope Damasus II was born circa 1000 in Pildenau in the area of Bavaria, which was part of both Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

  • His birth name was Poppo de’ Curagnoni.

  • He died on August 9, 1048.

  • Less than a month after becoming pope, Damasus II died of malaria while outside of Rome.

  • His papacy began on July 7, 1048.

  • The papacy of Damasus II ended with his death on August 9, 1048.

  • Leo IX became the next pope but was elected more than six months after Damasus II passed away.

Interesting Facts About Pope Damasus II

  • An old historical rumor claims that a follower of Benedict IX named Gerhard Brazutus poisoned Pope Damasus II in the hopes that the Church would return the former pope to the throne. Most historians today believe that this is not true.

  • Out of all the popes with the shortest reigns, Damasus II ranks at number seven. Only 24 days passed from the time of his appointment to his death.

  • Pope Damasus II was only the third pope born in Germany.

  • Margrave Boniface initially refused to help Poppo on his first journey to Rome. It was only after King Henry III wrote to him that he agreed to help.

  • His final resting place is in Saint Lorenzo Fuori le Mura.

See the full list of Popes throughout history here.