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John VII (c. 650 - 18 October 707) was pope from 705 to 707. The successor of John VI, he was (like his predecessor) of Greek nationality. His origins are unclear. Allegedly he emanated from Rossanomarker in Calabria, although Constantinoplemarker would be a plausible alternative. He is one of the popes of the Byzantine captivity.

John’s father, Plato (c. 620 - 686), was imperial cura palatii urbis Romae, or curator of the Palatine Hillmarker. This makes John the first pope to be the son of a Byzantine official. His mother was called Blatta (c. 627 - 687). His paternal grandfather was Theodorus Chilas (c. 600 - aft. 655), a Senator in 655.

John VII had good relations with the Lombards, who then ruled much of Italy. However, his relations with Justinian II, the Byzantine Emperor, were far from smooth. Papal relations with Byzantium had soured over the Quinisext or Trullan council of 692. Scholarly debate contests John VII's stance on the Canons. He did not ratify the Canons, which were deeply unpopular in Italy. Nonetheless, he was criticized, most unusually, by the Liber Pontificalis for not signing them:

He [Emperor Justinian II] despatched two metropolitan bishops, also sending with them a mandate in which he requested and urged the pontiff [John VII] to gather a council of the apostolic church, and to confirm such of them as he approved, and quash and reject those which were adverse. But he, terrified in his human weakness, sent them back to the prince by the same metropolitans without any emendations at all.

Several monuments in Romemarker are connected with John. The most notable is the Church of St. Maria Antiqua at the foot of the Palatine Hillmarker. Upon the Palatine traces of an episcopal palace, or Episcopium, associated with John have been discovered. John VII also constructed an Oratory dedicated to the Theotokos. The Oratory was located within the Old basilica of St. Petermarker. Fragments of the mosaic decoration can be found in the Vatican grottoes. Furthermore, a sizeable icon, known as the Maddona della Clemenza and housed in Santa Maria in Trasteveremarker, is believed to have been commissioned under the patronage of John. He also restored the monastery of Subiacomarker, destroyed by the Lombards in 601.

John VII died in 707 and was buried in St. Peter's. He was succeeded by Sisinnius. It is said his death was murder by a cuckolded husband of a woman he was having sex with.


  • Claudio Rendina, I Papi. Storia e segreti, Newton Compton, Rome, 1984.
  1. Kelly, J. N. D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 84.
  2. Kelly, J. N. D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 84.
  4. Breckenridge, J. D. "Evidence for the Nature of Relations between Pope John VII and the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II". Byzantinische Zeitschrift, Vol. 65, 1972.
  5. Nordhagen, P. J. "Constantinople on the Tiber".
  6. Smith, J. M. H. (ed.). Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West. Leiden, 2000.
  7. Davis, R. The Book of Pontiffs: the ancient biographies of the first ninety Roman bishops to AD 715. Liverpool University Press, 2000, p. 91.
  8. Augenti, A. Il Palatino nel Medioevo. Roma, 1996.
  9. Nordhagen, J. P. "Icons designed for the display of sumptuous votive gifts". Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 41, 1988.

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