|Papacy began||14 December 872|
|Papacy ended||16 December 882|
|Born||Rome, Papal States|
|Died||16 December 882|
Rome, Papal States
|Other popes named John|
Pope John VIII (Latin : Ioannes VIII; died 16 December 882) was Pope from 14 December 872 to his death in 882. He is often considered one of the ablest pontiffs of the 9th century.
He devoted much of his papacy attempting to halt and reverse the Muslim gains in southern Italy and their march northwards, which was "destroying the economy of papal patrimony."When his efforts to obtain assistance from either the Franks or the Byzantines was unavailing, John was forced to focus on strengthening the defenses of the city of Rome. To this end he reinforced the walls around the Vatican, and had defense works constructed at Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
Pope John supported Methodius in his mission to the Slavs, and defended him against the German episcopy, which felt that Methodius was intruding on their terrain. He authorized the translation of the Bible into Slavonic and extended diplomatic recognition to the Duchy of Croatia. Pope John resolved the Photian schism by agreeing to recognize Photios as Patriarch of Constantinople, and later on, excommunicating him.
He was born in Rome and as a young man witnessed the Arab raid against Rome by the Muslim Aghlabids.Among the reforms achieved during his pontificate was a notable administrative reorganisation of the papal Curia.
Pope Adrian II had consecrated Methodius archbishop and supported his mission to the Slavs. In 873, John VIII learned of the imprisonment of Methodiusby his German enemies, who objected to his use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy. John forbade the celebration of Mass in Bavaria until Methodius was released. Following Methodius' release John allowed him to resume his episcopal duties in Illyricum, but forbid him to celebrate mass in the Slavonic language, a prohibition Methodius may have largely ignored.
The imprisonment of Methodius seems to have been caused by Aldwin of Salzburg, who viewed Methodius as encroaching on his jurisdiction in Moravia. Upon the release of Methodius, the Pope extended his jurisdiction not only to Great Moravia and Pannonia, but to Serbia as well, and authorized Methodius to translate the Bible into Slavonic. "He who made three main languages - Hebrew, Greek, and Roman - also made all other languages to sing his praise and glory."
During the solemn divine service in St. Peter's church in Rome in 879, John VIII gave his blessing to duke Branimir of Croatia and the whole Croatian people, about which he informed Branimir in his letters. His country received papal recognition as a state. John made the decision on 21 May and confirmed it in his letter of 7 June 879.
Pope John asked for military aid from Charles the Bald and later Count Boso of Provence, in response to Saracens who were raiding Campania and the Sabine Hills.His efforts failed and he was forced to pay tribute to the Emirate of Sicily. The threatening Muslim military presence (which he believed was God's punishment against "bad Christians"), coupled with alliances they formed with the local Christians, prompted John to promote "a new and uncompromisingly hostile view of the Saracens." This included a ban on forming alliances with the Muslims. However, his efforts proved unsuccessful, partly because Christian leaders viewed his calls for unity as an excuse to assert papal authority in southern Italy.
In 876, John VIII traveled throughout Campania in an effort to form an alliance among the cities of Salerno, Capua, Naples, Gaeta and Amalfi against Muslim raids. By 877, all five cities sent delegates to Traietto to formalize an alliance.The Pope John VIII urged HRE Charles to come to his defence in Italy. Charles again crossed the Alps, but this expedition was received with little enthusiasm by the nobles, and even by his regent in Lombardy, Boso, and they refused to join his army. At the same time Carloman of Bavaria, son of Louis the German, entered northern Italy. Charles, ill and in great distress, started on his way back to Gaul, but died while crossing the pass of Mont Cenis on 6 October 877.
Obtaining relatively little support from outside sources, John fell back on what resources he could command. He reinforced the walls previously restored by Pope Leo IV. As the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls was located outside the Aurelian Walls, and had been damaged in a Saracen raid, the Pope fortified the Basilica, the monastery, and the nearby dwellings of the peasants. He also founded a papal fleet.
In 879 he recognised the reinstatement of Photius as the legitimate patriarch of Constantinople; Photius had been condemned in 869 by Pope Adrian II. This was undertaken mainly to appease the Byzantines, since in them he saw the only hope of removing the Arabs from Italy.Some time afterward, Pope John VIII re-confirmed the excommunication against Photius, and, after the death of Emperor Basil in 886, Emperor Leo VI used the papal proclamation to move against Photius, casting Photius away to an Armenian monastery .
In 878 John crowned Louis II, king of France. [ citation needed ]He also anointed two Holy Roman Emperors: Charles II and Charles III.
John VIII was assassinated in 882,almost certainly by his own clerics —the first pope in history to suffer such a fate. According to Barbara M. Kreutz, the assassination has been blamed upon such factors as his exhaustion of the papal treasury, his lack of support among the Carolingians, his gestures towards the Byzantines and his failure to stop the Saracen raids. Without the protection of powerful magnates such as the Emperor, the papacy became increasingly subject to the machinations and greedy ambition of the rival clans of the local nobility.
The Fourth Council of Constantinople was held in 879–880. It confirmed the reinstatement of Photius as Patriarch of Constantinople.
Pope Adrian II was Pope from 14 December 867 to his death in 872. He was a member of a noble Roman family who became pope at an advanced age, despite his objections.
Pope Marinus I was Pope from 16 December 882 until his death in 884. He succeeded John VIII from around the end of December 882.
Pope Stephen V was Pope from September 885 to his death in 891. He succeeded Pope Adrian III, and was in turn succeeded by Pope Formosus. In his dealings with Constantinople in the matter of Photius, as also in his relations with the young Slavic Orthodox church, he pursued the policy of Pope Nicholas I.
Pope Formosus was Cardinal-bishop and Pope, his papacy lasting from 6 October 891 to his death in 896. His brief reign as Pope was troubled, marked by interventions in power struggles over the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the kingdom of West Francia, and the Holy Roman Empire. Formosus's remains were exhumed and put on trial in the Cadaver Synod.
Cyril and Methodius (815–885) were two brothers and Byzantine Christian theologians and missionaries. For their work evangelizing the Slavs, they are known as the "Apostles to the Slavs".
The 840s decade ran from January 1, 840, to December 31, 849.
The 860s decade ran from January 1, 860, to December 31, 869.
The 880s decade ran from January 1, 880, to December 31, 889.
Year 847 (DCCCXLVII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar.
Year 880 (DCCCLXXX) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar.
Pope Saint Nicholas I, also denominated (Pope) Saint Nicholas the Great, was Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church from 24 April 858 to his death on 13 November 867. He is remembered as a consolidator of Papal authority, exerting decisive influence on the historical development of the Papacy and its position among the Christian nations of Western Europe. Nicholas I asserted that the Pope should have suzerain authority over all Christians, even royalty, in matters of faith and morals.
Anastasius Bibliothecarius or Anastasius the Librarian was bibliothecarius and chief archivist of the Church of Rome and also briefly an Antipope.
The Catepanateof Italy was a province of the Byzantine Empire, comprising mainland Italy south of a line drawn from Monte Gargano to the Gulf of Salerno. Amalfi and Naples, although north of that line, maintained allegiance to Constantinople through the catepan. The Italian region of Capitanata derives its name from the Catepanate.
Longobardia was a Byzantine term for the territories controlled by the Lombards in Italy. In the 9th-10th centuries, it was also the name of a Byzantine military-civilian province known as the Theme of Longobardia located in southeastern Italy.
The Photian Schism was a four-year (863–867) schism between the episcopal sees of Rome and Constantinople. The issue centered around the right of the Byzantine Emperor to depose and appoint a patriarch without approval from the papacy.
The Arab raid against Rome took place in 846. Muslim raiders plundered the outskirts of the city of Rome, sacking the basilicas of Old St Peter's and St Paul's-Outside-the-Walls, but were prevented from entering the city itself by the Aurelian Walls.
In 9th-century Christianity, Charlemagne was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor, which continued the Photian schism.
Wiching or Viching was the first bishop of Nitra, in present-day Slovakia.
The Archbishopric of Moravia was an ecclesiastical province, established by the Holy See to promote Christian missions among the Slavic peoples. Its first archbishop, the Byzantine Methodius, persuaded Pope John VIII to sanction the use of Old Church Slavonic in liturgy. Methodius had been consecrated archbishop of Pannonia by Pope Adrian II at the request of Koceľ, the Slavic ruler of Pannonia in East Francia in 870.
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