|Sergius I -- Omnes Cantate: "Agnus Dei..."|
In September 687, Pope Conon died. He had held St. Peter's Chair for exactly eleven months. Factions in the Vatican representing the military and the clergy each moved to put their own man on the Chair. I suspect that Paschal (considered an antipope) represented the military wing while Theodore (also an antipope) represented the clergy. Both sides camped out in the Lateran Basilica and fought for control of the whole thing.
More reasonable folks, including the military garrison of Rome, the regular people of Rome, and some clergy, decided that neither of these blokes ought to have the job. Instead, they held their own election, in which Cardinal Sergius was elected Pope. Theodore chose to immediately recognize the new pope's legitimacy and stand down. He was, therefore, allowed to continue in his job as arch-priest.
|Rocks the buoy hat way better than that witch Paschal|
Eager to keep the Roman Empire in tact in spite of two hundred years of Italian anarchy, Emperor Justinian II claimed authority over the Church. Sergius was equally eager to maintain papal independence from Constantinople, which of course led to the Dark Ages, the Great Schism, and disco. Well, the last one's a little indirect, but the first two are bad enough to know that their fight was unfortunate.
Justinian dispatched troops to Rome to force the Pope to submit. Some of the soldiers didn't like the idea of fighting against Saint Peter's successor, especially as they were fighting on behalf of Diocletian's successor. I can understand how that might have led them to defect to Sergius' side. Those remaining to General Zachary, the leader of Justinian's forces, were beset by the Roman people, who certainly did not want foreigners taking over. As the tide went out on the Byzantines, Pope Sergius hid General Zachary under his own bed until the truce could be called and the Emperor's troops safely conducted out of the City.
There were theological as well as political challenges during Sergius' papacy -- he supported the use of a lamb as a Christ symbol (Agnus Dei) in the face strong opposition -- but the distinguishing aspect of his tenure was unification of Vatican factions and maintenance of the Holy See's independence.