|The Chair of Peter|
Details of his departure from the Throne of Peter are missing. A catalog of popes lists him as having been a monk at St. Paul's near Rome at his death in June 1009. At some point he must have stepped down; perhaps he wasn't doing enough for John Crescentius III, the had of the Crescentii clan. He was replaced by Pietro Martino Buccaporci (Peter Martin Pigsnout), who was no doubt glad to take the name Pope Sergius IV. Sergius and John Crescentius both died in the spring of 1012, and the Crescentii influnce over the papacy faded away.
About the same time that Sergius and John Crescentii were dying, Theophylactus of Tusculum (c.1012-c.1056) was born in Rome. Son of the Count of Tusculum, he achieved the papacy as a young man in 1032 through the efforts of his father, taking the name Benedict VIII. He clearly had no qualifications for being pope; it was said of him that he "feasted on immorality" (St. Peter Damian) and that "a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest... occupied the chair of Peter and profaned the sacred mysteries of religion by his insolent courses." (Ferdinand Gregorovius)
It can be said that he left the papacy several times, some of them of his own volition. He was driven from Rome in 1036, but returned with the help of Emperor Conrad II. He was driven out again in 1044 and Pope Sylvester III was elected, but Benedict returned again in April 1045 and drove out Sylvester (who never stopped calling himself pope). In May 1045, Benedict resigned in order to get married; he sold the papacy to his godfather, Fr. John Gratian, who took the papal name Gregory VI.
|Papal coat of arms|
*Note: although he was the 18th pope to take the name John, he is officially considered the 17th John, because John XVI (pope from 997-998) has been declared an antipope and does not count in the true reckoning of popes. The historical numbers taken by the popes has never been "corrected."