PAPAL DRAMA

AP News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2013 5:08 PM

Pope Francis' transition will be much smoother than others in the pontificate's bumpy two-millennium history.

— In 897, Pope Stephen VI hated his deceased predecessor, Pope Formosus, so much he had his minions dig up his corpse. The new pope then held a mock trial for the old one, stripped the corpse of its vestments, cut off the two fingers that bestowed papal blessings and threw the body into the Tiber — before he himself was strangled to death.

— Pope Sergius III in the 10th century seized the papacy through armed force, and he had his imprisoned predecessor, Pope Leo V, strangled to death.

— Alexander VI won the papacy just before the 16th-century Protestant Reformation by bribing cardinals and promising lucrative jobs. The cardinals who elected his successor included his illegitimate son.

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