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"Popes maimed and were maimed, killed and were killed. Their lives bore no resemblance to the gospels. They had more in common with modern rich kids turned hooligans and junkies who haunt beach cafe’s and nightclubs than with Roman pontiffs as the world now sees them. Some owed their preferment to ambitious parents, some to the sword, some to the influence of high-born and beautiful mistresses in what became known as ‘The Reign of the Harlots’." ~Peter DeRosa
Pope Formosus (891-896) was a man who excited strong feelings amongst many in his time. You could say he was the Donald Trump of his day. Some saw him as pious, others saw him as inelegible for the papal throne...and accusations of bribery were also floated.
One pope who was extremely triggered by Formosus was Stephen VII. He dug up the remains of Pope Formosus who by then had been dead for over nine months. In what came to be known as the Cadaver Synod, there, before a group of bishops and cardinals, the former pope was dressed in the rich apparel of the papacy with a crown upon his loose scalp, and the scepter of the holy office in the stiff fingers of his rotting hand!
A terrified young deacon was placed there to ineffectively reply on behalf of the dead Formosus.
Inevitably the dead Pope was found guilty and was stripped of his garments, and several fingers of his right hand that were used in bestowing the benediction were amputated, the body was then dragged through the streets and eventually thrown into the Tiber river.
This was not the end of poor Pope Formosus. 10 years later, Pope Sergius III, had Formosus exhumed and condemned again. He also had his corpse beheaded and then removed three more fingers before again casting him into the Tiber river. The headless remains eventually became entangled in a fisherman’s net, and then returned a second time to the ground at St Peter’s.