Pope Leo V

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Leo V
Pope Leo V.jpg
Papacy began Late July 903
Papacy ended Mid September 903 or c. February 904
Predecessor Benedict IV
Successor Sergius III
Personal details
Birth name Leo
Born ???
Ardea, Papal States
Died c. February 904
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Leo

Pope Leo V (died c. February 904) was Pope from July 903 to his death in 904. He was pope during the period known as the Saeculum obscurum. He was thrown into prison in September 903 by the Antipope Christopher, and was probably killed at the start of the pontificate of Pope Sergius III. If his deposition is not considered valid (as in the modern Vatican list), then his papacy may be considered to have ended with his death in 904.


Leo V was born at a place called Priapi, near Ardea. Although he was a priest when he was elected pope following the death of Pope Benedict IV (900–903),[1] he was not a Cardinal priest of Rome.[2]

During his brief pontificate, Leo granted the canons of Bologna a special papal bull (epistola tuitionis) where he exempted them from the payment of taxes. However, after a reign of a little over two months, Leo was captured by Christopher, the Cardinal-priest of San Lorenzo in Damaso, and thrown into prison. Christopher then had himself elected pope (903–904), and although now considered an antipope, he had until recently been considered a legitimate pope.[3] If Leo never acquiesced to his deposition, then he can be considered Pope until his death in 904.

Leo died whilst in prison. He was either murdered on the orders of Christopher, who was in turn executed by Pope Sergius III (904–911) in 904, or, more likely, both were ordered to be killed at the beginning of Sergius’ pontificate, either on the orders of Sergius himself, or by the direction of the sacri palatii vestararius, Theophylact, Count of Tusculum.[4][5]


  1. ^ Platina, Bartolomeo (1479), The Lives of the Popes From The Time Of Our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII I, London: Griffith Farran & Co., p. 242, retrieved 2013-04-25 
  2. ^ Mann, pg. 111
  3. ^ Mann, pg. 112
  4. ^ Mann, pgs. 114-116
  5. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Pope Leo V". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 


  • DeCormenin, Louis Marie; Gihon, James L., A Complete History of the Popes of Rome, from Saint Peter, the First Bishop to Pius the Ninth (1857)
  • Mann, Horace K., The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. IV: The Popes in the Days of Feudal Anarchy, 891-999 (1910)
  • Norwich, John Julius, The Popes: A History (2011)
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Benedict IV
Succeeded by
Sergius III