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John of Ravenna


Archbishop; b. c. 812; d. after 863. Traditionally it has been held that John was the first archbishop of Dalmatia and Croatia; but many scholars now doubt this attribution and think that he has been confused with Pope john iv, a native of Dalmatia, or with Pope john x, who reorganized the hierarchy of Dalmatia and Croatia and subjected the area to Split c. 925. As archbishop of ra venna from 850 to 861, John was a partisan of Emperor louis ii and a troublemaker for both leo iv and nicholas i. He fraudulently seized the property of Leo's subjects, oppressed clergy and laity alike, and even murdered a papal legate. In all this he was helped by his brother Gregory, Duke of Emilia. A visit to Ravenna by Leo to reprimand him was of no avail [P. Jaffé, Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christium natum 1198 ], and later, under Nicholas, deputations came to Rome to protest against John's continued oppressions. The pope tried to dissuade him by legates and letters, but John continued to excommunicate his opponents and seize property, even papal property, arbitrarily. He also acted ultra vires in sentencing clerics directly subject to Rome. Summoned to Rome in 861 to give an account of his misdeeds, he refused to go, was found contumacious by the pope, and excommunicated [J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Concillorum nova et amplissima collectio, 31 v. (Florence-Venice 175798) 15:658; Liber pontificalis, ed. L. Duchesne, v.12 (Paris 188692), v.3 (Paris 1958) 2:168]. John enlisted the help of Louis and with the Emperor's ambassadors went to Rome, but he failed to reverse the decision. Nicholas himself visited Ravenna to restore the properties appropriated by the archbishop. In all, John was condemned by three successive synods at Rome, and when he was rebuffed at a second appeal for help to Emperor Louis, he was forced to make his peace with a synod at Rome in November of 861 [Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 187890) 106:787792]. He swore fidelity and obedience to the pope and purged himself of heresy, but his repentance was short-lived, and he had to be deposed again in 863 for siding with Gunther, Archbishop of Cologne (d. 873), and Thiergaud of Trier in their conflict with the papacy over the divorce of King lothair ii.

Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne, v.12 (Paris 188692), v.3 (Paris 1958) 2:157158. f. dvornik, The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization (Boston 1956). a. mercati and a. pelzer, Dizionario ecclesiastico, 3 v. (Turin 195758) 2:172. f. buliČ and j. bervaldi, Kronotaksa spljetskih nadbiskupa (Zagreb 1913) 116132. r. rogosiĆ, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2 d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 5:107374. t. schieffer, "Nikolaus I," ibidem 7:976977.

[t. p. halton]

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