Agapetus II was a Roman and an excellent man. And that is about
all that is known of him before he became pope. He was consecrated pope on May
10, 946. Agapetus II finally settled the vexed dispute between Artaud and Hugh
for the see of Rheims by deciding in favor of Artaud.
This settlement was in line with the papal policy of supporting
the house of Charlemagne. Louis IV wished to see Artaud archbishop of Rheims
because he did not want that influential see to fall into enemy hands. Hugh was
the nephew of Hugh the Great, duke of Francia, and trouble-maker-in-chief to the
King. Agapetus II worked well for reform and spreading the gospel. He cooperated
with German efforts to christianize the Scandinavians. He confirmed the
privileges of Hamburg as metropolitan see for the nascent church in Denmark.
From Jutland he received an embassy asking for missionaries. He worked well,
too, for reform of the monks and clergy. He granted many privileges to
One religious house which received a privilege from Pope
Agapetus II was Gandersheim, famous for its talented nun Hroswitha. Hroswitha
was a poet and a dramatist. Agapetus also protected monks from greedy princes.
The pontificate of Agapetus II is marked by the entry on the Italian scene of a
great man and a great precedent. The man was Otto I, king of Germany. The
precedent was the interference of German kings in Italian politics. North Italy
was again in turmoil. Hugh of Provence abdicated as King of Italy and went back
to Provence to die. His son Lothair died in 950 and Berenger, marquis of Ivrea,
was recognized as king. But Berenger proved worthless. He stirred up enemies on
all sides and he treated Adelaide, the beautiful young widow of Lothair, with
harshness. Adelaide escaped from his clutches and appealed to Otto. The great
German promptly marched into Italy, overthrew Berenger, married Adelaide, and
was crowned King of Italy. But when he wished to come to Rome to be crowned
emperor, Prince Alberic said no. He had no wish to see the powerful German in
his preserves. Pope Agapetus was probably willing enough to crown Otto, but in
Rome Alberic was still the real temporal ruler.
Agapetus II died in December 955. He is buried in the Lateran.
Excerpted from "Popes
Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.