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Indulgence for Fighting the Heathen, 878 - Pope John VIII

John VIII to the bishops in the realm of Louis II [the Stammerer].

You have modestly expressed a desire to know whether those who have recently died in war, fighting in defence of the church of God and for the preservation of the Christian religion and of the state, or those who may in 'he future fall in the same cause, may obtain indulgence for their sins. We confidently reply that those who, out of love to the Christian religion, shall die in battle fighting bravely against pagans or unbelievers, shall receive eternal life. For the Lord has said through his prophet: "In whatever hour a sinner shall be converted, I will remember his sins no longer." By the intercession of St. Peter, who has the power of binding and loosing in heaven and on the earth, we absolve, as far as is permissible, all such and commend them by our prayers to the Lord.


Thatcher and McNeal attribute this text to "John II," but this appears to be a typographical error since John II ruled in 523.. The pope who was ruling in 878 was John VIII (872-882). [Thanks to a correspondent for pointing out the problem here.]

In Migne, Patrologia Latina, 126: 816
trans. Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905), 512

This text is part of the
Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

(c)Paul Halsall Mar 1996



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved