Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pope Benedict IV

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)
Pope Benedict IV

by Horace Kinder Mann

Date of birth unknown; died in the summer of 903.

The Popes Benedict from the fourth to the ninth inclusive belong to the darkest period of papal history. The reigns of several of them were very short, and very little is known about their deeds. The dates of their accession to the See of Peter and of their deaths are largely uncertain.

Benedict IV, a Roman and the son of Mammalus, became pope in the first half of 900. His high birth, his generosity, his zeal for the public good are loudly commended by the contemporary historian Frodoard, who gives him the title of "Great". The principal historic act of his reign was his crowning Louis the Blind as emperor. He supported the decision of Pope Formosus, who had ordained him priest, in favour of Argrim's claim to the See of Langres (Jaffé, "Regesta", 3527, 3528), upheld the cause of Stephen, Bishop of Naples (Auxilius ap. Dümmler, "Auxilius und Vulgarius", 96 sqq.), excommunicated the assassin of Fulk, Archbishop of Reims (Frodoard, Hist. Remensis, IV, 10), and offered practical sympathy to Malacenus, Bishop of Amasia, who had been driven from his see by the advances of the Saracens (Jaffé, loc. cit., 3530). Fulda and other monasteries received privileges from him. He was buried in front of St. Peter's near the gate of Guido.

The most important source for the history of the first nine popes who bore the name of Benedict is the biographies in the Liber Pontificalis, of which the most useful edition is that of Duchesne, Le Liber Pontificalis (Paris, 1886-92), and the latest that of Mommsen, Gesta Pontif. Roman. (to the end of the reign of Constantine only, Berlin, 1898). Jaffé, Regesta Pont. Rom. (2d ed., Leipzig, 1885), gives a summary of the letters of each pope and tells where they may be read at length. Modern accounts of these popes will be found in any large Church history, or history of the City of Rome. The fullest account in English of most of them is to be read in Mann, Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages (London, 1902, passim).

Horace K. Mann.