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.