The Cadaver Synod

26 02 2008

This is hardcore:

In January of 897, Pope Stephen VI (also known as Stephen VII) had the body of Formosus exhumed and ordered to stand trial for various church crimes. Formosus’ corpse, which had spent the previous seven months interred in St. Peter’s Basilica, was dressed in papal vestments and propped into a chair to attend the proceedings. A teenage deacon was assigned to stand behind the corpse and speak for him.

The post over at Mental Floss is actually about six restless corpses that really aren’t finding a place to lay their weary spirits and what’s going on with their dead bodies. I don’t keep up with much with pope history but that seems pretty extreme. But I got all interested in The Cadaver Synod and have been reading about it.

One thousand one hundred and four years ago a criminal trial took place in Italy, a trial so macabre, so gruesome, so frightful that it easily qualifies as the strangest and most terrible trial in human history.  At this trial, called the Cadaver Synod, a dead pope wrenched from the grave was brought into a Rome courtroom, tried in the presence of a successor pope, found guilty, and then, in the words of Horace K. Mann’s The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages (1925), “subjected to the most barbarous violence.”

That is some weird stuff.


I really should have paid attention in school.




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