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Adrian III, Pope, St.


Pontificate: May 17, 884 to August or September 885; b. Rome; d. near Modena, Italy. Little is known of him; he was the son of Benedict, member of a Roman family. His brief reign was disturbed by the continuing conflict of contending factions in Rome. It appears that he represented the policies of Pope john viii (who was assassinated in 882) rather than those of Pope marinus i, Adrian's immediate predecessor. In the spirit of the age, Adrian dealt severely with the opposition: by his order a certain George, an official of the Lateran palace, was blinded and a woman named Mary, a member of the aristocracy, was subjected to disgraceful punishment. Adrian's policy regarding the problems with the Byzantine emperor, and especially with photius, was probably a conciliatory one, but he did not live long enough to accomplish anything of note. Emperor Charles III the Fat, who at that time was in control of nearly all of the former empire of Charlemagne, invited Adrian to come to an imperial diet, chiefly for the purpose of settling the question of the imperial succession, since Charles had no legitimate male heir. Leaving an imperial missus in charge of the government of Rome, Adrian set out for Germany. En route, he fell ill and died. He was buried in the nearby Abbey of Nonantola. His cultus, which developed in the locality, was approved by the Holy See on June 2, 1891.

Feast: July 8.

Bibliography: p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198 (Graz 1956) 1:426427; 2:705. Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 18861958) 2:225; 3:127. h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304 v.3 (London 190232). p. viard, Catholicisme 5:474. k. herbers, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 3d. ed. (1995). j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 112113.

[a. j. ennis]

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