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Landus - Six Months And Gone

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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.

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