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Friday September 13th 2019Tim Candler9

 

     Show trials are essentially propaganda exercises, and I feel for the G-Man who has to confront one at the behest of what is the functional equivalent of a six year old mind that's yet to manage building blocks. In the winter of 896-97 a Pope called Pope Steven VI ordered the body of a Pope called Pope Formosus exhumed. The corpse was placed in a dock, it wasn't a traditional dock, it was a rather splendid setting as envisioned by the late 19th, early 20th Century artist John Paul Laurens. It was a thrown like chair in the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist, which is like the cathedral for the Roman See. A See for us heathens is a Diocese, it's an administrative unit where the bigwig is a Bishop, and worth noting Bishops can often be ambitious people when it comes to serving themselves and their God. The proper way to refer to a Bishop "The Right Reverend" is to address him as "My Lord." Then if he gets to be an Arch Bishop, he's "Most Reverend" and is addressed as "Your Excellency." So no one should be really too surprised that a Pope would go to the effort of digging up a dead Pope he might have had a problem with. Nothing to do with justice, certainly unchristian, totally absurd in almost every respect, and in my view the Cadaver Synod, as history records it, is one of the classic show trials. It's got everything, including the idea that the defendant shouldn't really be allowed to defend him or herself, which is what happens when a political class calls upon aberrant personalities to dictate the verdicts of judicial proceedings. Stalin was very adept at show trails, Lenin had a few, the entire judicial system of many a short lived political system was all about show trials, more fashionable today in tyrannical and gangster circles is to "make disappear" as a warning to others rather than any pretense at a judiciary.

Past

     It was a difficult time in Italy when Formosus was appointed Bishop of Porto, which is the harbor region of Rome and of interest Porto is still a thriving Diocese. In Formosus' time as Bishop, there was a whole series of problems about who was to be chosen Holy Roman Emperor, there was the whole business of crowning the chosen on in Rome and Bishop Formosus erred by deciding to get all excited about the wrong candidate. One thing led to another and Bishop Formosus had to flee the general area of Rome. When he was ordered to return to Rome he declined. He was accused of all the usual terrible things by church authorities including the fact that he had once informed Rome that he had been asked by the Bulgarian Court to become Arch Bishop of Bulgaria. This would have been against the Church Law which didn't allow a clergyman to leave his See so that he could find work in another See, and he was excommunicated. In time the mood changed a little in Rome and in 883 Formosus was asked to return to the Diocese of Porto, where he was given a good church job. And on the 6th of October 891 Formosus was unanimously elected Pope. So you can kind of see the swings and roundabouts of politics. Then when Pope Formosus' corpse, dressed up in his papal outfit, was seated on the chair in the Basilica of Saint John, Pope Steven VI asked him "When you were Bishop of Porto, why did you usurp the universal Roman See in such a spirit of Ambition." It was a guilty verdict, Formosus had his Pope-hood removed from the record books, he was first buried in a common grave, but this wasn't really good enough for Pope Steven so his body was dug up bound with heavy weights and tossed into the Tiber River. When Formosus' body washed ashore the Roman Populace had had enough there was a general uprising and Pope Steven VI was deposed and put in prison, and a whole bunch of Steven fans were excommunicated. A happy ending in my book. As for Formosus he was all dressed up in his papal outfit and he was buried in Saint Peter's Cathedral

 

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