Adrian III of Rome

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Adrian III of Rome, also Hadrian, was Pope of Rome from 884 to 885. His short pontificate was characterized by violence, yet in 1891 he was canonized formally by the Roman Catholic Church.


Little is known of Adrian's early life other than he was born in Rome. He was a supporter of Pope John VIII who was one of the few popes to be murdered. Adrian was elected pope in 884, probably on May 17. Adrian opposed the aristocratic faction in Rome that was led by Bishop Formosus of Porto. During his papacy of sixteen months, a number of violent vendettas arose following the assassination of Pope John VIII. He had a priest George of the Aventine, a member of the Formosun group and notorious for several murders who had been exiled by Pope John and but allowed by Pope Marinus I to return to Rome, tried, condemned, and blinded. He also had a widow of a member of the opposing nobility whipped naked through the streets of Rome.

In the late summer of 885, Charles the Fat, whom Adrian supported, convoked a Diet of Worms to insure the succession of his illegitimate son, Bernard against the opposition of a number of bishops. Pope Adrian III died in September 885 while traveling to Worms, under strange circumstances that led many to believe that he had been assassinated. He was buried at the Abbey of Nonantola. His body was later moved and buried in the church of San Silvestro of Nonantola Abbey near Modena, Italy, near the high altar.

On June 2, 1891, the Roman Catholic Church canonized Adrian and set his feast day as July 8. While the rational for his veneration is unknown, he is known to have worked to mitigate the suffering in Rome during a famine.

Succession box:
Adrian III of Rome
Preceded by:
Marinus I
Pope of Rome
Succeeded by:
Stephen V
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