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Pope Nicholas II

Pope Nicholas II 155th Roman Pontiff from 1059 to 1061

155th Pontiff (1059-1061)

Before his death, Pope Stephen IX instructed the cardinals not to proceed with the election of his successor until Cardinal Hildebrand returned from his mission to the imperial court in Germany. Notwithstanding Pope Stephen IX’s deathbed dictum, the anti-reformist faction proclaimed the Bishop of Velletri, Italy, to be Pope Benedict X on April 5, 1058.

The reformist cardinals refused to recognize Pope Benedict X, and when Cardinal Hildebrand returned, he was enraged. A meeting of cardinals was convened in Sienna, Italy, where Cardinal Gerard, Bishop of Florence, was named pope-elect. A synod was held at Sutri, Italy, in early January 1059 where the antipope, Benedict X, was deposed and excommunicated.

Cardinal Gerard was born about 980 at Chevron in the Savoy province of France and was installed on January 24, 1059, as Pope Nicholas II coronate successor to Pope Stephen IX.

Pope Nicholas II was a reform prelate and set controls for the election and conduct of popes by assembling a synod of 113 bishops on April 13, 1059, whose first order of business was to declare the election of Pope Benedict X unconstitutional.

The papal electoral decree was issued in Pope Nicholas II’s bull, In nominee Domini on April 13, 1059, and was renewed in 1061.  Simony, the purchase or sale of sacred or spiritual things, was halted, and the entire voting process was revised so that only cardinal-bishops (not simply cardinals) would have the right to vote with further affirmation of the Roman clergy and laity. The pope should normally be a member of the Roman clergy but in case of necessity could come from outside Rome. (Pope Nicholas II was French clergy.) The election, if possible, was to be held at Rome, but it could be held elsewhere. The pope-elect would exercise full authority even if he was incapable of reaching Rome.

The synod also legislated against clerical marriage and concubinage as well as prohibiting lay investiture.

Pope Nicholas II was a reformer and named Cardinal Hildebrand, the future Pope Gregory VII and reform’s greatest champion, as Archdeacon of the Roman Church.

Pope Nicholas II died in Florence on July 27, 1061, and was buried in the Cathedral of Santa Reparata, now the Duomo.

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