Pope Sylvester III

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Sylvester III
Papacy began 20 January 1045
Papacy ended 10 February 1045
Predecessor Benedict IX
Successor Benedict IX
Personal details
Birth name Giovanni dei Crescenzi – Ottaviani
Born c. 1000
Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Died 1062 or 1063
Sabina, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire

Pope Sylvester III or Silvester III (c. 1000 – 1062 or 1063), born Giovanni dei CrescenziOttaviani in Rome, was Pope from 20 January to 10 February 1045.

When Pope Benedict IX was driven from Rome in September 1044, John, bishop of Sabina, was elected after fierce and protracted infighting. He took the name Sylvester III in January 1045. He was later charged with having bribed his way into the election, a charge that was never confirmed. Benedict IX issued an excommunication of the new Pope and within three months returned to Rome and expelled his rival, who himself returned to Sabina to again take up his office of bishop in that diocese.

Nearly two years later (in December 1046), the Council of Sutri deprived him of his bishopric and priesthood and ordered him sent to a monastery. This sentence was obviously suspended because he continued to function and was recognized as Bishop of Sabina until at least 1062, having occupied that see for over twenty years (from 1041). A successor bishop to the see of Sabina is recorded for October 1063, indicating that John must have died prior to that date.

Though some consider him to have been an antipope, Sylvester III continues to be listed as an official Pope (1045) in Vatican lists. A similar situation applies to Pope Gregory VI (1045–1046). His pontifical name was used again by Antipope Theodoric because, at that time, he was not considered a legitimate pontiff.

External links[edit]


  • Émile Amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. A. Vacant (Paris 1941) 14.2:2083–2084.
  • Geoffrey Barraclough, The Medieval Papacy (New York 1968) 71.
  • Liber Pontificalis, ed. Louis Duchesne (Paris 1892) 270.
  • Rudolf Hüls; Kardinäle, Klerus und Kirchen Roms: 1049–1130, Bibliothek des Deutschen Historischen Instituts in Rom, Max Miemeyer Verlag Tübingen, 1977, p. 125 no. 1.
  • J. N. D. Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (Oxford 1986) 144.
  • Horace Kinder Mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304 (London 1910) 5:249,250,252–253,254,256,259–260,276. http://www.archive.org/details/livesofpopesinea05mannuoft
  • Franz Xaver Seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste (Munich 1955) 2:414–417.
  • James A. Sheppard, "Sylvester III, Pope," New Catholic Encyclopedia (Detroit 2003) 13:659.
  • Johannes Matthias Watterich, Pontificum Romanorum qui fuerunt inde ab exeunte saeculo IX usque ad finem saeculi XIII vitae (Leipzig 1862) 1:70,72–76,713–715. http://books.google.com/books?id=89gDAAAAcAAJ
  • Harald Zimmermann, Papstabsetzungen des Mittelalters (Graz, Vienna, Cologne, 1968).
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Benedict IX
Succeeded by
Benedict IX