Benedict IX served as pope on three different occasions.

  • Pope Benedict IX
Pope Benedict IX
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Benedict IX was an 11th-century Catholic pope notable for being the only person to hold the papacy on multiple occasions — in his case, three different times. Born Theophylactus to a powerful Roman family, the future pope was the nephew of two prior popes, Benedict VII and John XIX. Upon the latter’s death in 1032, Benedict IX was chosen by the powerful Tusculani family as the successor, despite being just 20 years old (though some sources claim he was as young as 12). Benedict IX’s first pontificate came to an end in 1044, when he was deposed amid accusations of living an unsavory lifestyle, and replaced by Sylvester III.

Sylvester’s time as pope was brief, as supporters of Benedict IX expelled Sylvester from the role, allowing Benedict to return in April 1045. But Benedict’s second pontificate lasted only until the following month, as he notoriously sold the papacy to his grandfather Gregory VI. This act landed Gregory in hot water; he was deposed in December 1046 and replaced by Clement II. Clement met an untimely demise a few months later, allowing Benedict to seize the papacy for a third and final time in October 1047. Benedict IX remained pope until July 1048, when he was driven away by forces under the control of Holy Roman Emperor Henry III. 

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