Lateran Council (769)

Pope Stephen III, who convoked the Lateran Council of 769 (fictional portrait at Saint Paul Outside the Walls, c. 1850)

The Lateran Council of 769 was a synod held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran to rectify perceived abuses in the papal electoral process which had led to the elevation of the Antipopes Constantine II and Philip. It also condemned the rulings of the Council of Hieria. It is perhaps the most important Roman council held during the 8th century.[1]

Background

The death of Pope Paul I, on 28 June 767,[2] led to the uncanonical election of two antipopes. Constantine II was a layman who was elevated to the Papal See by his brother Toto of Nepi and a group of Tuscan nobles.[3] He was opposed by another antipope, Philip, who was installed by an envoy of the King of the Lombards, Desiderius, and reigned just for one day, 31 July 768.[4] With the election of Pope Stephen III on 1 August 768,[5] and the forcible removal of the antipopes, Stephen III had sent a request to Pepin the Short, asking for bishops well versed in the Scriptures and in canon law to assist at a synod which would seek to prevent any repeat of the events that led to the elevation of the antipopes.[6][7] By the time the envoys reached Francia, Pepin was dead. However, they appealed to his sons Charlemagne and Carloman, who agreed to send 12 bishops to Rome.[8] Rome was at the time part of the Byzantine Empire.

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