Death and the Bishop of Rome. from Hormisdas to Sabinian

Bronwen Neil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The sixth to early seventh centuries was a dangerous period to be crowned a bishop of Rome. Over the course of ninety-two years, from 514 to 606, there were no fewer than fifteen bishops of Rome, including one anti-pope. In the decade from 526 to 536, six popes went to their graves. Very few of these bishops died in their beds. Their deaths were as significant as their lives for what they can tell us about the processes of election and the protections that their office afforded them, as well as the risks to which they were exposed. In many cases the sole witness to the manner and timing of their deaths is the Liber Pontificalis.1

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-121
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 6th-7th century popes
  • Hormisdas
  • Liber Pontificalis
  • Sabinian

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