The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Benedict VII (974-983)
At an unknown date between 974 and 983 (IV)


(4) 1. GIOVANNI (?-985)

Birth. (No date found), Rome. His father's name was Roberto.

Education. (No information found).

Cardinalate. Presbyter cardinalis of an unknown title or deacon cardinalis of the Holy Roman Church at an unknown date between 974 and 983.

Papacy. Elected pope in August 985. Took the name John XV. Died without having been consecrated (1).

Death. 985, Rome. Buried in the Vatican basilica.

Bibliography. "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 159, no. 4.

(1) According to "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926, p. 159, some consider him antipope and others doubtful. He is not listed in the official series of Roman Pontiffs in Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 2009, p. 13*.

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(5) 1. GIOVANNI (?-996)

Birth. (No date found), Rome. Son of Leone, a priest from the quarter of Gallina Alba, VI regio of the city.

Education. He was a very cultured man, which may have helped his election to the papacy (1). He authored several books.

Cardinalate. Presbyter cardinalis of the title of S. Vitale at an unknown date between 974 and 983. After the death of Antipope Boniface VII in late July 985, Giovanni was the candidate of leading officials of the papal curia and of Patricius Giovanni Crescenzio I.

Papacy. Elected pope in August 985. Took the name John XV (or XVI). Consecrated between August 6 and September 15, 985. He aligned with the nobility and this, together with his rapacity, alienated him from the clergy. On March 1, 991, he mediated a peace between King Aethelred II of England and Duke Richard I of Normandy, who were about to go to war. In 992, Duke Mieszko I of Poland presented his whole realm to St. Peter and the pope in order to have more effective protection against Germany and Bohemia. In 992, the pope intervened in the against the deposition of Arnoul, archbishop of Reims, promoted by King Hugues Capet of France, in the synod of Saint-Basle, Verzy; the archbishop's replacement was Gerbert of Aurillac, future Pope Sylvester II; Abbot Leo, the papal legate, summoned the French bishops who participated in the synod, together with Hugues Capet and his brother Robert, to go to Rome, they refused at the synod of Chelles in 993/994; the pope was able, through his legate, to have Archbishop Gerbert suspended by the synod of Mouzon in the Ardennes in 995 and Archbishop Arnoul restored to his see; later, Archbishop Gerbert was named to the see of Ravenna. On January 31, 993, at a synod in the Lateran palace, he celebrated the canonization of Bishop Ulderic of Augsburg; this was the first canonization in history by papal decree. In March 995, the pope, persecuted by new Patricius Crescenzio II Nomentanus, and hated by his clergy for his avariciousness and nepotism, was forced to seek refuge in Sutri; during the summer the pope sent emissaries to King Otto III of Germany, asking for help against his enemies; the king's decision to assist the pope forced Crescenzio and the Roman nobles and clergy to invite Pope John to return to Rome, and he was settled at Lateran palace with all honors; the king left for Italy from Regensburg in February 996, but before he could reach Rome, the pope had died. He created twenty cardinals in seven promotions.

Death. March or April 30, 996, of a violent attack of fever, Rome. Buried in the oratory of S. Maria in the Vatican basilica (2); his tomb was destroyed in the demolition of the basilica in the 17th century.

Bibliography. "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 159, no. 5; Gregorovius, Ferdinando. Le tombe dei papi.. Roma : Edizioni del Centauro, 1931. Seconda edizione italiana riveduta e ampliata da C. Huelsen, p. 28; Huschner, Wolfgang. "Giovanni XV." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, II, 102-107; Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 133-134; Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 162-163, no. 138; Petruzzi, Caterina. "Giovanni XV." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 539-540; Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 75; 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, 486-489.

Links. Biography, in English; biography, in English (Britannica); his engraving and biography, in English; biography, in English; his engraving and biography, in French; biographies, in German; biography, in German; his engraving and biography, in Italian; his engraving, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his engraving; another engraving, in color; four engravings, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his effigy, on a medal, Numismatic collection of Olomouc archiepiscopate, Czech Republic.

(1) Huschner, "Giovanni XV." Enciclopedia dei papi, II, 102.
(2) This is the inscription that was in his tomb, taken from Reardon, The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs, p. 74:

CLAVDITVR HOC TVMVLO
VENERABILIS ILLE (IOHANNES)


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