List of popes who died violently

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A collection of popes who have had violent deaths through the centuries. The circumstances have ranged from martyrdom (Pope Stephen I)[1] to war (Lucius II),[2] to a beating by a jealous husband (Pope John XII). A number of other popes have died under circumstances that some believe to be murder, but for which definitive evidence has not been found.

Martyr popes[edit]

In tradition, the first pope, Saint Peter, was crucified upside-down.

Murdered popes[edit]

  • John VIII (872–882), allegedly poisoned and then clubbed to death[10]
  • Stephen VI (896–897), strangled[11]
  • Leo V (903), allegedly strangled[12]
  • John X (914–928), allegedly smothered with pillow[13]
  • John XII (955–964), allegedly murdered by the jealous husband of the woman with whom he was in bed[14]
  • Benedict VI (973–974), strangled[15]
  • John XIV (983–984), died either by starvation, ill-treatment or direct murder[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jacobus de Voragine; William Granger Ryan (1993). The golden legend: readings on the saints. Princeton University Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780691001548.
  2. ^ Foul Play Suspected in Popes Death? Baltimore Afro-American - October 10, 1978
  3. ^ Kirsch, Johann Peter (1911), "St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles", Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2013-06-03
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac I Sommi Pontifici Romani[full citation needed]
  5. ^ a b c d Liber Pontificalis[full citation needed]
  6. ^ Annuario Pontificio[full citation needed]
  7. ^ Alexis-François Artaud de Montor (1911). The lives and times of the popes : including the complete gallery of the portraits of the pontiffs reproduced from "Effigies pontificum romanorum Dominici Basae": being a series of volumes giving the history of the world during the Christian era. p. 21. Archived from the original on October 15, 2019. Quote: "Ignatius died of the wounds that were inflicted by ferocious beasts; Evaristus died under the hands of executioners, more cruel than the wild beasts themselves."
  8. ^ First pope listed as a martyr by Irenaeus' Against Heresies
  9. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Eusebius
  10. ^ Mann, H. (1910). Pope John VIII. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 14, 2010 from New Advent:
  11. ^ Pope Stephen (VI) VII New
  12. ^ Pope Leo V
  13. ^ Pope John X
  14. ^ Mann, Horace K. (1910). The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. IV: The Popes in the Days of Feudal Anarchy, 891-999. p. 264
  15. ^ Pope Benedict VI New
  16. ^ Pope John XIV
  17. ^ Kirsch, Johann Peter (1911), "Pope St. Hyginus", Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 7, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2013-06-03
  18. ^ Butler, Alban (1866). "July 11: St. Pius I., Pope and Martyr". The Lives of the Saints. Vol. 7. Dublin: James Duffy. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  19. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 129
  20. ^ Pope Clement II
  21. ^ Gregorovius, Ferdinand (1906) History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages vol. 5 part 2
  22. ^ Pope Boniface VIII