Leo VIII, Pope

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Pontificate: Dec. 4, 963 to March 1, 965; b. Rome. A man of blameless character, Leo was still a layman holding the office of protoscriniarius when Emperor otto i chose him to become pope. He was elected at the Roman synod at which the absentee john xii was deposed and was consecrated on Dec. 6, having been promoted to all orders in one day without observing the canonical interstices. Leo was the first pope to be installed according to the new liturgy introduced into Italy by the reforming Otto. His tenure in Rome remained uncertain; and on Jan. 3, 964, the Romans, incited by John XII, rioted against the Emperor and his papal appointee. The uprising was crushed in a bloody encounter with imperial troops. After Otto departed for Spoleto, John returned, took the city, and at a synod in St. Peter's (Feb. 26, 964) reciprocated by excommunicating and deposing Leo, who had fled to Otto's court. John died suddenly on May 14, and the impetuous Romans elected the cardinal deacon Benedict Grammaticus, who took the name benedict v. On June 23, Otto reentered Rome and reinstated Leo, whose pontificate was thenceforth uneventful after Benedict had been deprived, degraded, and deported to Hamburg (965). Three supposed Leonine documents, the Privilegium minus, the Privilegium maius, and the Cessatio donationum (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Constitutiones 1:665678), the last purporting to restore a number of papal territories to Otto and his wife, Adelaide, are forgeries of the period of the investiture struggle.

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[o. j. blum]