Benedict III
Bishop of Rome
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy began29 September 855
Papacy ended17 April 858
PredecessorLeo IV
SuccessorNicholas I
Personal details
Rome, Papal States
Died(858-04-17)17 April 858
Other popes named Benedict

Pope Benedict III (Latin: Benedictus III; died 17 April 858) was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 29 September 855 to his death.[1]

Early career

Little is known of Benedict's life before his papacy. His father was named Peter.[1] Benedict was educated, and lived in Rome and was appointed by Pope Leo IV as cardinal-priest of the church of San Callisto.[2] Benedict had a reputation for learning and piety.


Benedict III was elected upon the refusal of Adrian, the initial choice of the clergy and people. Arsenius, bishop of Orte, intercepted the legates sent to advise the emperor of the election and persuaded them to betray Benedict and convince the emperor name the bishop's son Anastasius instead. Anastasius had previously been excommunicated by Leo IV. The legates returned with the imperial envoys and had Benedict's election disavowed and Anastasius installed. Anastasius took his place at the Lateran and Benedict was imprisoned. However, local popular opinion was so strong that the Franks recognized Benedict's consecration. Benedict treated Anastasius and his adherents leniently.[3] The schism helped to weaken the hold of the emperors upon the popes, especially upon their elections.

Benedict intervened in the conflict between Lothair II of Lotharingia, Louis II of Italy, and Charles of Provence on the death of their father, Emperor Lothair I. He wrote to the Frankish bishops, rebuking them for remaining silent in the face of the disorder affecting the Carolingian realms.[3]

Æthelwulf of Wessex and his son, the future king Alfred the Great, visited Rome in Benedict's reign. The Schola Anglorum, which was destroyed by fire in 847, was restored by Benedict.[1]

A medieval tradition claimed that Pope Joan, a woman disguised as a man, was Benedict's immediate predecessor. The legendary Joan is generally believed to be fictitious.


  1. ^ a b c Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Benedict III" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ J. N. D. Kelly, "Benedict III" in The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, (2006).[page needed]
  3. ^ a b Brusher S.J., Joseph S., "Benedict III", Popes Through the Ages, Neff-Kane; 3rd edition (1980, ISBN 978-0891411109[page needed]


Catholic Church titles Preceded byLeo IV Pope 855–858 Succeeded byNicholas I