Adrian II
Bishop of Rome
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy began14 December 867[1]
Papacy ended14 December 872
PredecessorNicholas I
SuccessorJohn VIII
Personal details
Born792 (0792)
Died14 December 872(872-12-14) (aged 79–80)
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Adrian

Pope Adrian II (Latin: Adrianus II; also Hadrian II; 792 – 14 December 872) was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 867 to his death. He continued the policy of his predecessor, Nicholas I. Despite seeking good relations with Louis II of Italy, he was placed under surveillance, and his wife and daughters were killed by Louis' supporters.


Adrian was a member of a noble Roman family, related to Popes Stephen IV and Sergius II.[2] In his youth, he married a woman named Stephania and had a daughter with her. Adrian later became a priest after having already been married.[3] Catholic priests had been required to abstain from all further sexual relations since the 4th century at the latest.[4]

Adrian was selected to become pope on 14 December 867. He was already at an advanced age, and objected to assuming the papacy.[5] His wife and daughter moved with him to the Lateran Palace.[6]


Adrian II maintained, but with less energy, the policies of his predecessor, Nicholas I. King Lothair II of Lotharingia, who died in 869, left Adrian to mediate between the Frankish kings with a view to secure the imperial inheritance to Lothair's brother, Louis II of Italy.[7] Adrian sought to maintain good relations with Louis, since the latter's campaigns in southern Italy had the potential to free the papacy from the threat posed by the Muslims.[8]

Patriarch Photius I of Constantinople, shortly after the council in which he had pronounced sentence of deposition against Pope Nicholas I, was driven from the patriarchate by a new Byzantine emperor, Basil the Macedonian, who favoured Photius' rival, Ignatius. The Fourth Council of Constantinople was convoked to decide this matter. At this council, Adrian was represented by legates who presided at the condemnation of Photius as a heretic, but did not succeed in coming to an understanding with Ignatius on the subject of jurisdiction over the Bulgarian Church.[7]

Adrian supported the work of Cyril and Methodius in Moravia, and authorized the use of the new Slavic liturgy. He subsequently ordained Methodius a priest. In 869, he consecrated Methodius archbishop and Metropolitan of Sirmium.[9]

Like Nicholas I, Adrian was forced to submit in temporal affairs to the interference of Emperor Louis II, who placed him under the surveillance of Bishop Arsenius of Orte, his confidential adviser, and Arsenius' nephew, Anastasius the Librarian.[7] Arsenius' son Eleutherius married Adrian's daughter, having withheld the fact that he was already espoused to another. In 868, he abducted and murdered Adrian's wife and daughter.[6] Eleutherius was condemned to death for his crimes.

Adrian died on 14 December 872, after exactly five years of pontificate.[7]


  1. ^ "Adrian II, The Holy See".
  2. ^ Mann, Horace K., The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. II: The Popes During the Carolingian Empire, 795–858 (1906), p. 110
  3. ^  Loughlin, James (1907). "Pope Adrian II". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ Helen Parish (2016). Clerical Celibacy in the West: C.1100-1700. Taylor and Francis. pp. 49–51. ISBN 9781317165163.
  5. ^  Loughlin, James (1907). "Pope Adrian II". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  6. ^ a b Riche, Pierre (1993), The Carolingians, University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 9780812213423
  7. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911.
  8. ^ Kleinhenz, Christopher (2 Aug 2004). "Hadrian II, Pope". Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. ISBN 9781135948795. Hadrian sought to alienate no one in Rome, while also maintaining good relations with Louis II, whose campaigns in the south might free the papacy from the threat posed by the Muslims.
  9. ^ "The Life of Methodius", Medieval Slavic Lives of Saints and Princes (Marvin Kantor) [Michigan Slavic Translation 5]. University of Michigan. (1983) p. 117. ISBN 0-930042-44-1

Further reading

Catholic Church titles Preceded byNicholas I Pope 867–872 Succeeded byJohn VIII