Giovanni XII

John XII meets the Emperor

The following article concerns the controversial figure of Giovanni XII, one of the most dissolute popes in the history of the Church.

E’ been sent to History Pills gives Mauro Napoliello, already author of this article:

In thanking him for the contribution, I invite you readers to take a look at the post: the character is definitely interesting and out of the ordinary!

Enjoy the reading.



Giovanni XII

Portrait of Pope John XII

We have always been used to thinking that the world of the Church is wrapped in a veil of goodness and mercy.

Preti, cardinal bishops and popes, they are the spokespersons of concepts of humanity and peace on earth to men of good will.

Actually, nowadays this is how it works, but in the past ecclesiastical matters, they were a little’ more complicated.

Before Unification of Italy, the Church owned several territories of the central peninsula and its chief, that is, the Pope, it has not always been an example of kindness and mercy.

Giovanni XII: a dissolute teenager on the throne of Peter

Giovanni XII

Giovanni XII

Well yes, there was a time when the Pope was the exact opposite of what we know today.

He was young, sexually active, indeed all too active and pagan: the supreme pontiff in question was Papa Giovanni XII, the 130th of the catholic church.

We are in a very remote time, in 10th century AD.

In Rome at that time, the Prince Alberic he had assumed power in Rome and aimed to unify spiritual and military power in one figure.

With the approval of the Holy Roman Emperor Brass of Saxony, Alberico caused the death of the then Second Class II, his son Octavian took over the charge.

So it was that in 955 d.C., the people of Rome attended the’election of Pope John XII, the man who combined spiritual power with temporal power.

Despite not having the age to do it, Octavian became pontiff at sixteen, a teenager at the helm of the papacy
marked by vices, carnal passions and ambitions of power: not really a holiness!

Probably because of his noble ancestry and the environments he frequented, the young Octavian had not had a good training, the one worthy of a pope and once he entered the Lateran Palace he combined cooked and raw ones.

He had an unbridled passion for women and young people, its rooms were teeming with prostitute, a real harem who foraged with gifts and money.

Enthusiast hunting, He preferred the game of the woods to the flock of his people.

So as not to miss anything, he loved to drink and get drunk, toasting often and willingly in honor of the ancient pagan gods, all completed by personal violence and war actions against neighboring duchies.

The Church in disarray and the intervention of the Emperor

The emperor, given the habit, decided it was better to spend a little’ of time in Rome with the young pontiff, to prevent the situation from worsening further.

So in 962 d.C. Ottone crossed the Alps with his army to spend the Christmas holidays in Rome.

In his presence, Octavian calmed down, he swore allegiance and the situation at least for the moment became ecclesiastically peaceful.

End the holidays, with the emperor's departure to Germany, everything went back exactly as before.

Prostitutes were called back by brothels, even women walking around the city alone, were kidnapped by the
Pope's men.

The Vatican was covered in debt, the roofs of the buildings collapsed and the sewers overflowed in the middle of the streets.

To make matters worse, Giovanni began to plot behind Otto.

The latter, heard the news, he moved again to San Pietro with the intention of ousting Giovanni.

The young pope, like a boy afraid of punishment on the way, he got into a carriage with two lovers and fled to a castle outside the city.

Romans, exasperated, they opened the doors to Otto and welcomed him as a liberator.

A. Was established synod to try Octavian who meanwhile sent a letter in which he excommunicated the emperor and the members of the synod and launched an anathema towards the newly elected pope Leo VIII.

The bizarre and somewhat fact’ comic starts now.

The return of John XII, revenge and death

Giovanni XII

The Pope is thrown out the window by a jealous husband

Romans, angered at being excluded from the choice of the new pontiff, they hurled themselves against the imperial soldiers and for a while did not leave us the Brass feathers.

After a few weeks the emperor went to war and it was then that taking advantage of the discontent of the people towards the new pontiff, Giovanni returned to Rome, with the consequent escape of Leo VIII.

The thing that makes you smile is that the Romans welcomed him with open arms: they probably found themselves in his vices.

At that point began the Giovanni's revenge: he tried all those who had defamed him during the synod and made them horribly mutilated.

We are in 964 d.C. and a few months after his return, Pope John XII died, exactly the 14 May, perhaps killed by the husband of some of his lovers.

Sources say that he was thrown out of the window.

At the age of twenty-seven he left the earthly world to end up not sure where, certainly not in the circle of saints.

At bottom, this boy had turned the Church into the worst bar in Caracas (Written and sent article gives Mauro Napoliello) (photo:,, e