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Enthroned in 1024; d. 1032. After the death of the last patricius of the House of Crescentius, the counts of Tusculum seized the authority in Rome, a scion of this family was raised to the papal throne as Benedict VIII, while his brother, Romanus, exercised the temporal power in the city as consul and senator. After Benedict's death Romanus, though a layman, was elected pope between 12 April and 10 May, 1024, immediately after which he received all the orders in succession, took the name of John, and sought by lavish expenditure to win the Romans to his cause. Soon after his elevation the Byzantine Emperor, Basil II, sent ambassadors to Rome to request in his name that the pope would recognize the title of oecumenical patriarch, which the patriarchs of Byzantium had assumed, thus sanctioning the latter's headship of all the Oriental Churches. Rich presents brought by the envoys were intended to win over the pope, and indeed he seemed not disinclined to accede to the Byzantine wishes. Though the negotiations were kept secret the affair became public, and roused to action the religiously minded circles, especially the promoters of ecclesiastical reform in Italy and France. Public opinion compelled the pope to refuse the Byzantine requests and gifts, whereupon Patriarch Eustachius of Constantinople caused the pope's name to be erased from the diptychs of his churches. John invited the celebrated musician, Guido of Arezzo , to visit Rome and explain the musical notation invented by him. In Germany, after the death of Henry II (1 July, 1024), Conrad the Salian was elected king, and was invited by the pope and also by Archbishop Heribert of Milan, to come to Italy. In 1026 he crossed the Alps, received the iron crown of Lombardy, and proceeded to Rome, where on 26 March, 1027, he was crowned emperor. Two kings, Rudolph of Burgundy and Canute of Denmark and England, took part in this journey to Rome.

On 6 April a great synod was held in the Lateran basilica, where the dispute between the Patriarchs of Aquileia and Grado was decided, through the emperor's influence, in favour of the former. Poppo of Aquileia was to be sole patriarch, with the Bishop of Grado under his jurisdiction. Moreover, the Patriarch of Aquileia was to take precedence over all the Italian bishops. Two years later (1029) John XIX revoked this decision, and at a new synod restored to the Patriarch of Grado all his former privileges. King Canute of Denmark and England obtained from the pope a promise that his English and Danish subjects should not be annoyed by customs duties on their way to Italy and Rome, and that the archbishops of his kingdom should not be so heavily taxed for the bestowal of the pallium. John granted the Bishop of Silva Candida, near Rome, a special privilege to say Mass in St. Peter's on certain days. A dispute regarding precedence between the Archbishops of Milan and Ravenna was settled by the pope in favour of the former. He took the Abbey of Cluny under his protection, and renewed its privileges in spite of the protests of Goslin, Bishop of Mâcon ; at the same time he rebuked Abbot Odilo of Cluny for not accepting the See of Lyons. The feast of St. Martial, reputed disciple of the Apostles and founder of the church of Limoges, was raised by John to the rank of the feast of an Apostle. In the case of certain French bishops the pope maintained the rights of the Holy See. He seems to have been the first pope to grant an indulgence in return for alms bestowed. He died towards the end of 1032, probably on 6 November.


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