Eugene II, Pope
EUGENE II, POPE
Pontificate: c. Feb.–May 824 to August 827. The Annales Einhardi (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores 1:212) indicate that he was cardinal priest of St. Sabina and enjoyed the support of the local nobility in his contest with another papal candidate; he was upheld also by wala, counselor of louis the pious (Vita Walae 1:28; Patrologia Latina 120:1604). The coemperor lothair i met Eugene in Rome and there (November 824) promulgated a Constitutio Romana (Monumenta Germania Historica: Capitularia 1:322–324) designed to restore order to the papal domains after the troubles under paschal i. Its chief provisions were an oath of fidelity to the emperor on the part of papal subjects, the establishment of a mixed papal-imperial commission to oversee justice, and the guarantee of free papal elections to the Roman citizenry, thus confirming the pact of 817 and eliminating the Roman synodal enactment (769) that such elections be the exclusive business of the clergy. The oath taken by Eugene in ratifying the constitutio was henceforth to be taken by his successors before their consecration.
The question of iconoclasm arose anew in this pontificate (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Concilia 2:473–551). An embassy of the Byzantine Emperors Michael II (820–829) and theophilus (829–842) reached Louis the Pious at Rouen (Nov. 17, 824), asking his good offices with the pope in an effort to prohibit the veneration of images. A first Frankish mission had failed to achieve this purpose, but Louis eventually secured papal permission to have his theologians examine the question (Nov. 1, 825). Late that same year, the Western sovereigns dispatched a letter and a new mission to the pope, hinting that he should send a papal commission along with a Frankish legation to Constantinople to affirm the Western position on images. Louis's fear that Eugene would not consent to this (ibid. 2:533) was apparently sound; there is evidence neither of papal letters nor of a mission to the East.
Other acts of this pontificate, indicating the return of papal initiative, include a response to barnard of vienne (Patrologia Latina 105:643–644), an instruction on ordeals (Patrologia Latina 129:985–687), a fragment concerning the Abbey of farfa, and a commendation of St. ansgar and companions who commenced their missionary labors in Denmark in the fall of 826. Wide-ranging disciplinary legislation was laid down in 38 canons by the Roman synod of Nov. 14 and 15, 826 (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Concilia 2:552–583).
Bibliography: p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198 (Graz 1956) 1:320–322, 2559, 2564. Liber Pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 1886–1958) 2:69–70; 3:122. h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304 (London 1902–32) 2.1:156–182. p. brezzi, Roma e l'Impero medioevale (Bologna1947). j. haller, Das Papsttum (Stuttgart 1930–33) 2:27–29, 38–39. f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des 20. Jh. (Munich 1954–59) 2:208–214. o. bertolini, in Studi medioevali in onore di Antonino De Stefano (Palermo1956) 43–78. t. noble, "The Place in Papal History of the Roman Synod of 826," Church History 45 (1976) 434–54. s. scholtz, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 3d. ed. (Freiburg 1995). j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 101–102.
[h. g. j. beck]