Pope Sylvester III

Sylvester III
Papacy began 20 January 1045
Papacy ended 10 March 1045
Predecessor Benedict IX
Successor Benedict IX
Personal details
Birth name Giovanni dei Crescenzi – Ottaviani
Born c. 1000
Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Died 1062 or 1063
Sabina, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Other popes named Sylvester

Pope Sylvester III or Silvester III (c. 1000 – 1062 or 1063), born Giovanni dei CrescenziOttaviani in Rome, was Pope from 20 January to March 1045.

When Pope Benedict IX was driven from Rome in September 1044, John, bishop of Sabina, was elected after fierce and protracted infighting. He took the name Sylvester III in January 1045. Benedict IX issued an excommunication of the new Pope[1] and in March returned to Rome and expelled Sylvester,[2] who himself returned to Sabina to again take up his office of bishop in that diocese.[3]

Nearly two years later (in December 1046), the Council of Sutri deprived him of his bishopric and priesthood and ordered him sent to a monastery.[4] This sentence was obviously suspended because he continued to function and was recognized as Bishop of Sabina until at least 1062.[5] A successor bishop to the see of Sabina is recorded for October 1063, indicating that John must have died prior to that date.[5]

Though some consider him to have been an antipope, Sylvester III continues to be listed as an official Pope (1045) in Vatican lists. A similar situation applies to Pope Gregory VI (1045–1046). His pontifical name was used again by Antipope Theodoric because, at that time, he was not considered a legitimate pontiff.


  1. Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2000), 172.
  2. Megan McLaughlin, Sex, Gender, and Episcopal Authority in an Age of Reform, 1000-1122, (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 63.
  3. John-Peter Pham, Heirs of the Fisherman : Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession, (Oxford University Press, 2004), 57.
  4. F. Donald Logan, A History of the Church in the Middle Ages, 2nd edition, (Routledge, 2013), 96.
  5. 1 2 J.N.D. Kelly, A Dictionary of Popes, (Oxford University Press, 2010), 144.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Benedict IX
Succeeded by
Benedict IX
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