List of Anti-Popes
|This note had its origins in Fido R CATHOLIC, which is where I first composed the original "List of Anti-Popes."
I hope the latest incarnation posted to the Internet version of R CATHOLIC may interest some.
An anti-pope is one who falsely claims the title and authority of the Holy Father while a duly elected Pope is in office. I have included in this list only anti-popes who have had at least some pretence of being canonically elected. Impostors whose only claim to the Papal office was having received an alleged divine revelation appointing them pope are not considered "genuine" anti-popes and are thus omitted.
I recall how, in Fidonet, I was once sent a question asking why no further anti-popes were listed after the submission of the anti-pope Felix V to the lawful Pope Nicholas V (r. 1447-1455). The late Robert Adams replied that was because the kind of religious and political malcontents who would otherwise try taking over the Church generally left after the outbreak of the Protestant Revolt in 1517.
An invaluable reference book about the Papacy is JND Kelly's THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF POPES (Oxford University Press: 1986, 1988). It contains not capsule biographies of the Popes, but similar entries for the anti-popes. Incidentally, for those who care, the author is NOT Catholic, but a Protestant (Anglican).
Thus, the standard I'll use re the notes I'll attach to some of the anti-popes below will be the above book.
List of Anti-Popes
251-258 Novatian. Consecrated bishop in opposition to St. Cornelius (r. 251-253). The major point in dispute (besides disappointed ambition on Novatian's part) was his opposition to the policy St. Cornelius pursued as regarded those Christians who lapsed during the persecution of Emperor Decius. The Pope insisted on restoring the "lapsi" to communion after doing suitable penance. Novatian demanded permanent excommunication from the Church.
855 Anastasius the Librarian. One of the more interesting anti-popes. A scholar learned in both Greek and Latin. After the death of St. Leo IV in 855, Anastasius, with Frankish support, tried to make himself Pope in rivalry to the lawful Pope Benedict III (r. 855-858). The violent hostility of the Romans thwarted him. Anastasius was treated leniently by Benedict and rehabilitated by Nicholas I (r. 858-867), whom he served faithfully.
984-985 Boniface VII. One of the more disgusting anti-popes. Actually, twice anti-pope. In 974, supported by the Roman clan of the Crescentii, Boniface was "elected" Pope. He soon had the lawful Pope Benedict VI (r. 973-974) murdered. The outraged Romans expelled Boniface, who fled to the Eastern Roman Empire. In 980, while Benedict VII (r. 974-983) was absent, the usurper briefly seized Rome. Again expelled. In 984, with Byzantine support, Boniface again seized Rome, had John XIV (r. 983-984) murdered, and installed himself as "pope" until he died in 985.
997-998 John XVI
1159-1164 Victor IV. The anti-popes of the years 1159-1180 were the creatures of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I during his long quarrel with Pope Alexander III (r. 1159-1181).
1164-1168 Paschal III
1328-1330 Nicholas V. Set up as anti-pope by the Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV during the latter's quarrel with Pope John XXII (r. 1316-1334).
1378-1394 Clement VII. The "election" of this anti-pope in opposition to the lawful Pope Urban VI (r. 1378-1389) precipitated the Western Schism of 1378-1415.
1394-1423 Benedict XIII
1439-1449 Felix V. After "deposing" Eugene IV (r. 1431-1447) in 1439, the schismatic Council of Basle "elected" as "Pope" Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy (r. 1391-1440. Largely because the "council" desired as Pope a man of piety, wealth, and international standing. Amadeus accepted "election" only with hesitation and was soon disillusioned. In 1449, with Charles VII of France acting as mediator, Felix V submitted to the lawful Pope Nicholas V. Appointed cardinal bishop of St. Sabina, he died in 1451.
Sean M. Brooks
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