Putting the Pope on the Pillory

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An ugly scene in Rome played out in January 897. In a wild political stunt to reverse the appointments, ordinations, and papacy of his seven-months deceased successor, Pope Formosus, Pope Stephen VI had Formosus’ body exhumed, dressed in papal robes, and propped up in the Basilica of St. John Lateran to “stand trial” before a synod of repulsed Roman clergy. 

He accused Formosus’ rotting corpse of being an…

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