List of popes who died violently

A collection of popes who have had violent deaths through the centuries. The circumstances have ranged from martyrdom (Pope Stephen I)[1] to war (Lucius II),[2] to a beating by a jealous husband (Pope John XII). A number of other popes have died under circumstances that some believe to be murder, but for which definitive evidence has not been found.

Martyr popesEdit

In tradition, the first pope, Saint Peter, was crucified upside-down.

Murdered popesEdit

  • John VIII (872–882), allegedly poisoned and then clubbed to death[10]
  • Stephen VI (896–897), strangled[11]
  • Leo V (903), allegedly strangled[12]
  • John X (914–928), allegedly smothered with pillow[13]
  • John XII (955–964), allegedly murdered by the jealous husband of the woman with whom he was in bed[14]
  • Benedict VI (973–974), strangled[15]
  • John XIV (983–984), died either by starvation, ill-treatment or direct murder[16]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Jacobus de Voragine; William Granger Ryan (1993). The golden legend: readings on the saints. Princeton University Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780691001548.
  2. ^ Foul Play Suspected in Popes Death? Baltimore Afro-American - October 10, 1978
  3. ^ Kirsch, Johann Peter (1911), "St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles", Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2013-06-03
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac I Sommi Pontifici Romani[full citation needed]
  5. ^ a b c d Liber Pontificalis[full citation needed]
  6. ^ Annuario Pontificio[full citation needed]
  7. ^ Alexis-François Artaud de Montor (1911). The lives and times of the popes : including the complete gallery of the portraits of the pontiffs reproduced from "Effigies pontificum romanorum Dominici Basae": being a series of volumes giving the history of the world during the Christian era. p. 21. Archived from the original on October 15, 2019. Quote: "Ignatius died of the wounds that were inflicted by ferocious beasts; Evaristus died under the hands of executioners, more cruel than the wild beasts themselves."
  8. ^ First pope listed as a martyr by Irenaeus' Against Heresies
  9. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Eusebius
  10. ^ Mann, H. (1910). Pope John VIII. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 14, 2010 from New Advent:
  11. ^ Pope Stephen (VI) VII New
  12. ^ Pope Leo V
  13. ^ Pope John X
  14. ^ Mann, Horace K. (1910). The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. IV: The Popes in the Days of Feudal Anarchy, 891-999. p. 264
  15. ^ Pope Benedict VI New
  16. ^ Pope John XIV
  17. ^ Kirsch, Johann Peter (1911), "Pope St. Hyginus", Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 7, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2013-06-03
  18. ^ Butler, Alban (1866). "July 11: St. Pius I., Pope and Martyr". The Lives of the Saints. Vol. 7. Dublin: James Duffy. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  19. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 129
  20. ^ Pope Clement II
  21. ^ Gregorovius, Ferdinand (1906) History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages vol. 5 part 2
  22. ^ Pope Boniface VIII