sergius iv

Pope Sergius IV

Sergius IV (born in Rome, died May 12, 1012), born Pietro Martino Boccapecora, was Pope from July 31, 1009 until his death. The date of his birth is unknown. His birth name is believed to have been Pietro Martino (Peter Martin) Boccapecora. This name essentially translated to "Peter Pig's Snout. Pietro adopted the name Sergius IV upon accession to the pontificate. He is sometimes cited as the first Pope to adopt a new name, although Pope John II (533–535) and Pope Agapetus I (535–536) are other possible originators of this tradition.

Boccapecora was the son of a shoemaker (also named Pietro) who lived in the city of Rome. Despite his family's poor background, he performed well after entering the Church, and rose quickly through the ranks. In 1004, he became Bishop of Albano. Upon the abdication of Pope John XVIII (1004–09) he was elected Pope, and adopted the name of Sergius IV.

The power held by Sergius IV was often overshadowed by Crescentius III, the ruler of the city of Rome at the time. Some historians have claimed that Sergius IV was essentially a puppet ruler for Crescentius III. Others, however, claimed that the Pope resisted Crescentius III's power. There is some evidence that Sergius IV gave political backing to an anti-Crescentius faction in the city.

Acts sometimes attributed to Pope Sergius IV include measures to relieve famine in the city of Rome, the exemption of certain monasteries from episcopal rule, and a papal bull calling for Islam to be driven from the Holy Land after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed in 1009 by the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah. Some historians have suggested that this bull was actually invented around the time of the First Crusade, in order to help justify that expedition to Jerusalem. More recently though, historians have forcefully argued for the document's authenticity.

Sergius IV died on May 12, 1012, and was followed in the papacy by Pope Benedict VIII (1012–24). There was some suspicion that the pope was murdered, as he died within a week of Crescentius, considered by many to have been his patron. Sergius was buried in the Lateran Basilica, and is sometimes venerated as a Saint by the Benedictines.

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