Landus was a native of Sabina whose father's name was Taino, He
granted a privilege to the Church of the Holy Savior in Forum Novum in his
native district of Sabina. He was a man of good character and ruled the Church
for about six months. Elected in July or August 913, he died in February or
March 914, and this is all that is known of Pope Landus.
The characters of Anastasius III and Landus prove that if
Theophylactus was controlling the papal elections at this time, he was seeing to
it that good men were chosen. Since the house of Theophylactus will pretty much
dominate the papacy for the next half century, it is useful to understand the
position of this interesting family in history. Theophylactus was a Roman noble
who became a high official in the papal service. Sparked by his ambitious wife
Theodora and their vigorous daughters, Theodora and Marozia, this family secured
so dominant a position in Roman politics that they reduced the temporal power of
the pope to a shadow. Even worse, they placed in the papal throne men tragically
unfit for the high office. Naturally such power aroused a good deal of
opposition, and unfortunately for their memory much of what is known of this
dark period comes down from their enemies. If these may be believed, the family
of Theophylactus was a nest of horrible corruption.
Older historians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, have accepted
the charges against the house of Theophylactus. Cardinal Baronius, the great
counterreformation church historian, denounces this family and some of their
popes in unmeasured terms. But modern historians, more critical, are a bit
dubious about accepting the invectives of party foes as gospel. Still, when all
allowance for partisan feeling is made, the story of the house of Theophylactus
and its influence on the papacy is black enough.
Excerpted from "Popes
Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.