- Pope John VII
English name=John VII
March 1, 705
October 18, 707
Rossano di Calabria, Greece
John VII (died
October 18, 707) was popefrom 705 to 707. The successor of John VI, he was (like his predecessor) of Greek nationality. His origins are unclear. Allegedly he emanated from Rossanoin Calabria, although Constantinoplewould be a plausible alternative. He is one of the popes of the Byzantine captivity.
John’s father, Plato, was "cura palatii urbis Romae", or curator of the
Palatine Hill. This makes John the first pope to be the son of a Byzantine official. [Kelly, J. N. D. "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes". Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 84.] His mother was called Blatta. [Kelly, J. N. D. "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes". Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 84.]
John VII had good relations with the
Lombards, who then ruled much of Italy. However, his relations with Justinian II, the Byzantine Emperor, were far from smooth. Papal relations with Byzantium had soured over the Quinisext or Trullan council of 692. Scholarly debate contests John VII's stance on the Canons. [Breckenridge, J. D. "Evidence for the Nature of Relations between Pope John VII and the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II". "Byzantinische Zeitschrift", Vol. 65, 1972.] [Nordhagen, P. J. "Constantinople on the Tiber".] [Smith, J. M. H. (ed.). "Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West". Leiden, 2000.] He did not ratify the Canons, which were deeply unpopular in Italy. Nonetheless, he was criticized, most unusually, by the Liber Pontificalisfor not signing them:
"He [Emperor Justinian II] despatched two metropolitan bishops, also sending with them a mandate in which he requested and urged the pontiff [John VII] to gather a council of the apostolic church, and to confirm such of them as he approved, and quash and reject those which were adverse. But he, terrified in his human weakness, sent them back to the prince by the same metropolitans without any emendations at all." [Davis, R. "The Book of Pontiffs: the ancient biographies of the first ninety Roman bishops to AD 715". Liverpool University Press, 2000, p. 91.]
Several monuments in
Romeare connected with John. The most notable is the Church of St. Maria Antiquaat the foot of the Palatine Hill. Upon the Palatine traces of an episcopal palace, or Episcopium, associated with John have been discovered. [Augenti, A. "Il Palatino nel Medioevo". Roma, 1996.] John VII also constructed an Oratory dedicated to the Theotokos. The Oratory was located within the Old basilica of St. Peter. Fragments of the mosaic decoration can be found in the Vatican grottoes. Furthermore, a sizeable icon, known as the "Maddona della Clemenza" and housed in Santa Maria in Trastevere, is believed to have been commissioned under the patronage of John. [Nordhagen, J. P. "Icons designed for the display of sumptuous votive gifts". "Dumbarton Oaks Papers", Vol. 41, 1988.] He also restored the monastery of Subiaco, destroyed by the Lombards in 601.
John VII died in 707 and was buried in St. Peter's. He was succeeded by Sisinnius.
*Claudio Rendina, "I Papi. Storia e segreti", Newton Compton, Rome, 1984.
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