The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Gregory IV (827-844)
842 (III)


(3) 1. ADRIANO (?-872)

Birth. (No date found), Rome. From an aristocratic family. Son of Talaro (or Talarus), who later became a bishop, perhaps of Minturnes, and may have participated as such in the Roman Council of 853. His family gave the Church Popes Stephen IV (V) and Sergius II.

Education. (No information found).

Early life. Before receiving the sacred orders, he was married to Stefania and had a daughter.

Cardinalate. Presbyter cardinalis of the title of S. Marco in 842. In 844, at the death of Pope Leo IV, declined to be elected pope. Participated in the Roman Council of 853. When Pope Benedict III died in 858, he again declined the election to the papacy. He exerted an important activity in the administration of the Roman Church and he was appreciated not only for his meekness for his kindness and generosity to the poor and needy.

Papacy. Elected pope on November 13, 867. Took the name Adrian II. Consecrated on Sunday December 14, 867. He was elected after a violent struggle between opponents and supporters of the late Pope Nicholas I, partly fomented by Duke Lamberto of Spoleto. The choice of Cardinal Adriano, which at the need was unanimous, represented a compromise solution; the new pope's temperament added to an advanced age, left his position weakened to address the burdensome inheritance left by his predecessor. Following the directives of Pope Nicholas I, he retained in the office of chancellor Anastasio il Bibliotecario. A tragic incident happened on March 10, 868, in the Lateran palace, when Eleuterio, son of the powerful Bishop Arsenio of Orte, with the complicity his cousin of Anastasio, papal chancellor and former Antipope Anastasio III, carried off by force the daughter of Pope Adrian II (she was already engaged to another young man) and also kidnapped her mother, Stefania. This act of violence ended with a double assassination when Eleuterio, learning of the imminent arrival of the imperial officers sent to arrest him (the pope had asked for his help), did not hesitate to massacre the two unfortunate women. Eleuterio was executed and general execration involved Bishop Arsenio and his men. Many in Rome revived against Anastasio the bad memories of his past, in addition to the latest accusations of being the real instigator of the crimes of Eleuterio. The pope, on October 12, 868, in the church of S. Prassede, renewed against him the major excommunication and exclusion from all ecclesiastical offices and forbade him to leave the city farther than forty miles. However, the pontiff left open a way to avoid these sanctions, if Anastasio would present himself before a synod to demonstrate that he was not guilty of any charges; since the charges could not be verified, at least from what it is known, he soon recovered the functions the he previously had in the patriarchy and returned with even more influence than before. The Photian question, which at the time of Pope Nicholas I had closed with the mutual excommunication of the representatives of the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, during the pontificate of Pope Adrian II reopened with new perspectives. In Constantinople, Emperor Michael III, friend and great patron of Photius, had died in 867, and the throne had been passed to Emperor Basil I, founder of the Macedonian dynasty. This change of government meant the fall of Patriarch Photius and the reinstatement of the deposed Patriarch Ignatius on November 23, 867. At this point, the relations with Rome started improving. Emperor Basil I sent an embassy to Rome invite Pope Adrian II to participate in an ecumenical council which was to be held in Constantinople in the autumn of 869, where the whole Photius issue would be re-discussed and resolved definitively. The idea appealed to the pope, who in view of the future council, convoked a synod in the summer of 869 in St. Peter's basilica, which confirmed the condemnation and dismissal of Photius pronounced by Pope Nicholas I. The synod also decided that if Photius would repent, he could be readmitted to the communion of the laity; that the clerics consecrated by Photius should be deposed, while the bishops who were consecrated by Patriarch Ignatius, and were later associated with Photius, could be rehabilitated if they signed a Libellus satisfactionis, composed in Rome. Pope Adrian II sent as legates to Constantinople Bishops Donato of Ostia and Stefano of Nepi, and Cardinal deacon Marino, future pope. They arrived in Constantinople October 5, 869 and on that same day the Eighth Ecumenical Council (4th Council of Constantinople) began; the gathering lasted until February 28, 870; while refusing to sign the Libellus, the Eastern bishops finally accepted all the decisions taken by Rome against Photius, who was invited to appear in person, but who remained in a disdainful silence. Photius' followers, who had been consecrated by and had received important positions of responsibility, were also deposed. The unity of the Church had been so reestablished but not for long. When on November 23, 877 Patriarch Ignatius died, Photius easily recovered the patriarchal throne.Despite the support of the French episcopate, Pope Nicholas I had refused to divorce King Lothair II of Lorraine from his queen,Teutberga, in order to marry his concubine, Valdrada. While the emperor was in Italy, Pope Adrian II, celebrating mass in the monastery of Montecassino, took an oath from to the king, in the presence of Queen Teutberga, to definitively abandon Valdrada. The pope then administered the eucharist to the king and his entourage. However, the issue of marital Lothario was not finally closed, as the pope, in the presence of numerous bishops, had previously stated that the case would be examined during a large western synod, in which the French bishops should have participate. Despite all appearances, the pope had maintained the dignity of the Apostolic See, for permission to participate in the eucharist did not represent a particular concession, because the king had not been excommunicated. The case, however, resolved itself only a month after when the king died on August 8, 868 near Piacenza, of a terrible fever which decimated the royal entourage. The two unhappy women, Teutberga and Valdrada, who had suffered so much for opposite reasons, sought peace in the silence of a cloister. One of the most significant events during the pontificate of Pope Adrian II was the mission of Cyril and Methodius among the Slavs. Thanks to these two missionaries, not only a large new population converted to Christianity, but also a new local church, deeply inculturated, came to enrich the catholicity of the universal Church. Duke Rastislav, who had managed to take Moravia from the Frankish domination had converted to Christianity, having understood that the new state would be strengthened with the acceptance of that faith. In 862 the duke turned the Byzantine emperor and asked him to send priests to Moravia; Greek missionaries arrived in the kingdom of Moravia in 863, led by brothers Cyril and Methodius of Thessalonica. As the two brothers knew the Slavic language, and this added greatly to their preaching and evangelization.They taught for three years in the reign of Rastislav but not being bishops, they could not consecrated the young Slavs who they were educating and who aspired to become Christian apostles. Thus Cyril and Methodius decided to go to Constantinople, but then, they received an invitation from Pope Nicholas I to go to Rome. When they arrived in Rome, the pope was already dead, but the reception that Pope Adrian II had prepared for them was equally triumphant, because Cyril had brought to Rome the relics of Pope St. Clement Rome, which he had discovered in his journey to Casari in Crimea. The two apostles, however, encountered some difficulties in obtaining permission to celebrate the mass in Slavonic. But Pope Adrian showed a rather broad-mind as he allowed the celebration of the Slavonic liturgy in Roman churches, consecrated Methodius bishop and ordained other young Slavs priests and deacons. Cyril died in Rome on February 14, 869. With the blessing of the pope, Bishop Methodius returned to the land of the Slavic mission, where he continued with his mission with great zeal and success, the evangelizing Moravia and Pannonia, so as to merit the appointment of legate of the Apostolic See among the Slavs. With Patriarch Ignatius the pope had a disagreement concerning the jurisdiction over the church in Bulgaria and the evangelization by Roman missionaries. He created eleven cardinals in four promotions.

Death. December 14, 872, Rome. Buried in the Vatican basilica. Several fragments of his epitaph are preserved in the Vatican grottos (1).

Bibliography. Bertolini, Ottorino. "Adriano II." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, II, 22-28; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 66-67; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab initio nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. Alphonsi Ciaconii Ord. Praed. & aliorum opera descriptæ : cum uberrimis notis. Ab Augustino Oldoino, Soc. Jesu recognitae, et ad quatuor tomos ingenti ubique rerum accessione productae. Additis Pontificum recentiorum imaginibus, & Cardinalium insignibus, plurimisque aeneis figuris, cum indicibus locupletissimis. Romæ : P. et A. De Rubeis, 1677, I, col. 626, no. 12, and col. 653-658; Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. 114; De Angelis, Maria Antonietta. "Adriano II, papa." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 26-27; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 52, 16; Gregorovius, Ferdinando. Le tombe dei papi.. Roma : Edizioni del Centauro, 1931. Seconda edizione italiana riveduta e ampliata da C. Huelsen, p. 31-32, no. 33; Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 109-110; Le Liber pontificalis. Paris : E. de Boccard, 1981, 1955. 3 v. : facsims. (Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome). Notes: Reprint of the 1955 edition./ Includes indexes./ Vol. 3: "Additions et corrections de L. Duchesne publiées par Cyrille Vogel ... avec L'Histoire du Liber pontificalis dupuis l'édition de L. Duchesne une bibliographie et des tables générales, II, LVII,LXXV, 173-190; Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 141, no. 107; Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 64-65; Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab conditio Ecclesia. Ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Graz : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956. 2 v. Reprint. Originally published : Lipsiae : Veit et comp., 1885-1888. Original t.p. included : Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia : ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Editionem secundam correctam et auctam edidit Philippus Jaffè ; auspiciis Gulielmi Wattenbach; curaverunt S. Loewenfeld, F. Kaltenbrunner, P. Ewald, I, 368-375.

Links. Biography, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography, in English, (Britannica); his image and biography, in English; biography, in English; biography, in English, New World Encyclopedia; biography, in Italian, Dizionario Bigrafico degli Italiani; biography, in Italian, by Otorino Bertolini, Enciclopedia dei papi, Treccani; biography, in Italian; his image (figure in the center), lunette in the monastery of S. Clemente a Casauria, Pope Adrian II entrusts Emperor Louis II with the relics of Saint Clement Journal of the Abruzzo World Club; his image, Archelaos; his engraving, Fondazione Marco Besso, Rome; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; engraving, from the same source; another engraving, also from the same source; Pope Adrian II with Sts. Cyril and Theodius, stained window, cathedral of St. Helena in Helena, Montana, United States of America; one of his coins, Numismatic collection of Olomouc archiepiscopate, Czech Republic.

(1) This is the text of his epitaph, taken from Duchesne, Le Liber pontificalis, p. 490, note. 62:

Ei miHI COMPOSVIT MortalIS PONDERA CARNIs
hADRIANVS PraeSVL HIC SVA MATER Humus
in cinERES MERSIT quiCQVID DE PVLVERE SVmpsit
ast aNIMA CAELO REDDIDIT OSSA solo
vir plus et PLACIDVS FVERAT SVPER AEThera clarus,
pauperibVS LARGVS DIVITIBVSQVE simul.
o mnibus et MEDIVS NVLLIS NISI CARVs habendus,
dapsilis, AegREGIVS RECTVS Vbique bonus,
[compatiens] LACRI[mis] AL[iorum corde benigno],
pro quo IVRe deum lachrymis venerabere visor
VT SIT CVm domino iam super astra suo.
QVI LEGIS HOS [versus compuncto dicito corde : Cum Christo vivas o Hadriane Deo.]

     Duchesne, in the same note, indicates that the entire text of the epitah was copied by Pietro Sabino, a 15th century archeologist, (in Giovanni Battista Rossi, Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae, II, 419). Duchesne adds that the sixth distique and the last line were omitted in the trasncription but that they have been restored by conjecture. Sabino says that he had seen the monument ad dextram templi partem; sub quodam intercolumnio e regione sacrarii.

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