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Theodore II - A 20 Day Reign

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The holy priest Theodore was elected to succeed Romanus. Theodore was a Roman, the son of Photius. It is interesting to note that his brother Theotius was also a bishop. Theodore had been ordained a priest by Pope Stephen VI. If Flodoard, canon of Rheims, can be trusted, Theodore II was a man of excellent character. Moderate, chaste, a lover of the poor and the clergy, and a peacemaker, Theodore seemed to be just the man for the troublous times. And what is known of Theodore confirms this good opinion. But Theodore was to be pope for less than three weeks. At once the new Pope ordered a synod to be held. At this synod the clergymen who had been ordained by Formosus and deposed by Stephen VII were restored.

Theodore ordered the written resignations which Stephen VII had collected from them to be burned. And now at last the poor battered body of Formosus found rest. After it had been thrown into the Tiber the corpse had washed ashore near the Church of St. Acontius in Porto. According to one story, Formosus then appeared to a monk and asked him to bury the body. The monk did so, but secretly for fear of the late pope's enemies. According to another account, fishermen found the body. At any rate when Pope Theodore II learned of the discovery of the body, he had it brought back to Rome in solemn procession. Once more clothed in the pontifical vestments, the body was placed before the Confession of St. Peter. Then in the presence of Pope Theodore, a Mass was said for the soul of Formosus, and his poor battered body was restored to its own tomb.

One chronicler remarks that he heard from the Romans that when the body entered St. Peter's, certain images of the saints bowed their heads to it. Theodore had time for little else. He granted a privilege to the church of Grado and had a coin struck. Twenty days after his election he was dead. 

Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.

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