Pope John X

The 122nd pope, Pope John X, held the position for over 14 years. During that time, he managed to accomplish a lot in terms of politics. He is most known for attempting to unify Italy. He also finally defeated the Saracens, which threatened the papacy for many generations.


John X was born in Tossinano, a commune in the Bologna region of Italy. Not much is known about his early life prior to joining the Church. His father was also named John. The future pope is thought to have joined the Church early on, which would explain his influence.

History with the Church

John X’s career with the Church started when he was made deacon by Peter IV, who was the bishop of Bologna. He was originally planning to succeed Peter IV. However, the position of archbishop of Ravenna became available.

So, he traveled to Ravenna and was consecrated in this position by Pope Sergius II. He held this position for eight years before becoming pope.


After the death of Pope Lando, he was elected to the papacy. His first course of action was addressing the Saracens. The Saracens had made an outpost on the Garigliano River in central Italy. He immediately formed an alliance with Prince Landulph of Beneventum, Berengarius of Friuli, and other rulers.

The Pope led his large army to the mouth of the Garigliano River. The Battle of Garigliano lasted for about three months. By the end of it, all Saracens were caught and killed.

After this battle, Pope John X crowned King Berengar as the Holy Roman Emperor. Unfortunately, Berengar had a lot of enemies. Pope John X’s endorsement of the King put him at risk. Berengar was eventually assassinated. While Pope John X tried to distance himself from Roman Nobles, he enraged Marozia. As a powerful Roman senator, she had John X imprisoned.

Quick Facts About Pope John X

  • John X was born sometime around the year 860.

  • It is not known if John X had a separate birth name than his papal name. He could have been born John, as his father held the name as well.

  • Pope John X is thought to have died sometime in 928 or 929.

  • Pope John X died in prison. But, how this happened is still unknown. There are two versions of his death. One is that he died several months after imprisonment by being smothered. The other is that he died in 929 due to the poor conditions of his imprisonment and depression.

  • The papacy of Pope John X started in March of 914.

  • His reign ended on May 28th, 928.

  • Pope John IX was succeeded by Pope Leo VI.

Interesting Facts About Pope John X

  • Pope John X’s papacy ended before his death.

  • John X had an alleged lover named Theodora. Theodora was the wife of a powerful Roman Nobleman. According to some accounts, she used her influence in Rome to help John X during his papacy.

  • Before his papacy even started, John X had to defend himself from a usurper trying to take away his see.

  • His tenure as Pope was fraught with political controversies.

  • After his death, Pope John X’s body was allegedly buried in the atrium of Lateran Basilica.

All of the Popes that took the name “John”

There has been 21 popes that have taken the name of John.

John I (St.) (#53) (523 – 526)
John II (#56) (533 – 535)
John III (#61) (561 – 574)
John IV (#72) (640 – 642)
John V (#82) (685 – 686)
John VI (#85) (701 – 705)
John VII (#86) (705 – 707)
John VIII (#108) (872 – 882)
John IX (#117) (898 – 900)
John X (#123) (914 – 928)
John XI (#126) (931 – 935)
John XII (#131) (955 – 963)
John XIII (#134) (965 – 972)
John XIV (#137) (983 – 984)
John XV (#138) (985 – 996)
John XVII (#141) (1003)
John XVIII (#142) (1003 – 1009)
John XIX (#145) (1024 – 1032)
John XXI (#188) (1276 – 1277)
John XXII (#197) (1316 – 1334)
John XXIII (Blessed) (#262) (1958 – 1963)

Take a look at all the other Popes in history here.