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The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

827-858 A.D.

Gregory IV : 827-844 A.D.

101. Born in Rome. Elected September 20, 827 - Died January 11, 844.

He set up a strong army, which was commanded by the Earl of Tuscany and defeated the Saracens five times in Africa.

The Saracens, who had landed in Italy, destroyed Civitavecchia and Ostia and threatened Rome.

In 834 he promulgated in Western Europe the feast of All Saints to be celebrated on the first day of November, which was introduced in Rome by St. Boniface IV.

He ordered that each church had to have its own entrance and every priest had to abandon any other indecent occupation.

He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes. His pontificate lasted 16 years.

Sergius II : 844-847 A.D.

102. Born in Rome. Elected January 844 - died January 27, 847.

During his pontificate, the Saracens besieged Rome, where they sacked St. Paul's and other churches.

The Turks were definitively defeated in Gaeta.

He restored the staircase of the Pretorium (Holy Stairs) in Jerusalem, which as you may know was brought to Rome by St. Helen, Constantine's mother.

He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes. His pontificate lasted about 3 years..

St. Leo IV : 847-855 A.D.

103. Born in Rome. Elected April 10, 847 - died July 17, 855.

He was the first pope to write the date on official documents. He granted the Venetians the right to elect a Doge.

He ordered the building of the walls surrounding the Leonine City and the Vatican hill.

These walls, made of tufa and bricks, were up to 20 meters high: they had 24 towers like the one you can see on the Vatican hill.

He ordered that the cardinals had to go twice a week to the Apostolic Palace to discuss Church matters; this was considered the first example of Congregation.

Through one of his orders, Leo IV introduced the aspersion, a rite which consists in sprinkling holy water on the faithful and on the works during the Sunday Mass etc. As a symbol of purification and blessing.

He is buried in the Basilica of St. Peter, in the Cappella della Colonna. His pontificate lasted 8 years and 3 months.

Benedict III : 855-858 A.D.

104. Born in Rome. Elected September 28, 855 - died April 17, 858.

He was beloved by the people for his virtues but was firmly opposed by the Emperor and the Anti-pope Anastasius, whose pontificate lasted 1 month.

He tried to gather all factions in the fight against the Saracens.

He reluctantly accepted the pontificate and fasted three days before accepting the papal dignity.

During his pontificate a pestilence rode out in Rome, which occluded one's throat with fluxion, causing the prompt death of people of any age and class.

His buried in the Vatican Grottoes. His pontificate lasted about 2 years and a half.

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