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Popes who were married

The Catholic Church testifies that in the earliest times of the Church there were married clergymen.

There existed Bishops, priest and even Popes who were married before receiving the mantle of Church leadership.

It is clear from the New Testament (Mk 1:29-31; Mt 8:14-15; Lk 4:38-39; 1 Tim 3:2, 12; Tit 1:6) that at least the Apostle Peter had been married, and that bishops, presbyters and deacons of the Primitive Church were often family men. It is also clear from epigraphy, the testimony of the Fathers, synodal legislation, papal decretals and other sources that in the following centuries, a married clergy, in greater or lesser numbers was a normal feature of the life of the Church. Even married popes are known to us.1 And yet, paradoxically, one has to desist, when faced with this incontrovertible fact, from assuming that this necessarily excluded the co-existence of an obligatory celibacy discipline.

– (from the “Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church“)

These are Some Popes that were Married:

1. St Peter

Saint Peter (Simon Peter), whose mother-in-law is mentioned in the Gospel verses Matthew 8:14–15, Luke 4:38, Mark 1:29–31 and who was healed by Jesus at her home in Capernaum. This clearly depicts Peter as a married man, and 1 Cor. 9:5 suggests Peter’s wife accompanied him on his mission. Clement of Alexandria notes that “Peter and Philip begat children” and writes: “When the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, ‘Remember the Lord.’ Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition toward those dearest to them.” Later legends, dating from the 6th century onwards, suggested that Peter had a daughter – identified as Saint Petronilla. This, however, is likely to be a result of the similarity of their names.

2. Pope St. Hormisdas

He was born at Frosinone, Campagna di Roma, Italy. Before becoming a Roman deacon, Hormisdas was married, and his son would in turn become Pope under the name of Silverius. During the Laurentian schism, Hormisdas was one of the most prominent clerical partisans of Pope Symmachus. He was notary at the synod held at St. Peter’s in 502. Two letters of Magnus Felix Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, survive addressed to him, written when the latter tried to regain horses and money he had lent the Pope.

3. Pope Adrian II

After the death of St. Nicholas I, the Roman clergy and people elected, much against his will, the venerable Cardinal Adrian, universally beloved for his charity and amiability, descended from a Roman family which had already given two pontiffs to the Church, Stephen III and Sergius II. Adrian was now seventy-five years old, and twice before had refused the dignity. He had been married before taking orders, and his old age was saddened by a domestic tragedy. As pope, he followed closely in the footsteps of his energetic predecessor. He strove to maintain peace among the greedy and incompetent descendants of Charlemagne.

4. Pope John XVII

Pope John XVII was Pope for about seven months from 16 May to 6 November 1003.
Before entering the priesthood, Sicco had been married and had three sons who also entered Holy Orders:

  • John, Bishop of Praeneste
  • Peter, a Deacon
  • Andrew, a Secundicerius

He died on 6 November 1003 and was buried in the Lateran Basilica between the two doors of the principal facade. According to John the Deacon, his epitaph began by stating that “here is the tomb of the supreme John, who is said to be Pope, for so he was called.”

5. Pope Clement VI

Born at Saint-Gilles on the Rhone, 23 November, year unknown; elected at Perugia 5 February, 1265; d. at Viterbo, 29 November, 1268. After the death of Urban IV (2 October, 1264), the cardinals, assembled in conclave at Perugia, discussed for four months the momentous question whether the Church should continue the war to the end against the House of Hohenstaufen by calling in Charles of Anjou, the youngest brother of St. Louis of France, or find some other means of securing the independence of the papacy. No other solution offering itself, the only possible course was to unite upon the Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina, by birth a Frenchman and a subject of Charles. Guido Le Gros was of noble extraction.

When his mother died, his father, the knight Foulquois, entered a Carthusian monastery where he ended a saintly life. Guido married, and for a short time wielded the spear and the sword. Then devoting himself to the study of law under the able direction of the famous Durandus, he gained a national reputation as an advocate. St. Louis, who entertained a great respect and affection for him, took him into his cabinet and made him one of his trusted councillors. His wife died, leaving him two daughters, whereupon he imitated his father to the extent that he gave up worldly concerns and took Holy orders.

.. His first act was to forbid any of his relatives to come to the Curia, or to attempt to derive any sort of temporal advantage from his elevation. Suitors for the hands of his daughters were admonished that their prospective brides were “children not of the pope, but of Guido Grossus”, and that their dowers should be extremely modest. The two ladies later preferred the seclusion of the convent.

Read More

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Raphael Benedict

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  1. “Upon this ROCK, I will build MY CHURCH” Peter means Rock. Jesus said that a wise man builds his house on solid Rock. A good foundation. Mat. 7:24-25. The Catholic Church is built on Peter, the solid Rock that Christ alpoinappoi Himself.

  2. How is St Peter a pope? Who made him Pope? He was even crucified by Emperor Nero during the height of persecution. It was the emperor Constantine who converted to a Christian and adopted the Christian religion in the same manner as he previously worshipped his idols. That was when the Roman Catholic Church began. Note the word ROMAN CATHOLIC.

    1. The one you are referring is the Roman church. There are 5 major churches, they are all catholic. the church of Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch and Rome. All bishops of the 5 churches are equal in voice and authority but the Bishop of Rome presides over the 5 council of churches. This is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church. It has exist before the Edict of Toleration of Milan. The Christians of the 2nd century refer to St. Peter as Popus or papa, (not as Father in heaven, but as the eldest of the elders (leader of the church called as Episcopos or bishops).) The Catholic church is a very diverse church composed of both the eastern and western churches under the residence of the pope. archaeological evidences form the 4th and 6th century Christianity addresses Peter, Linus, and Cletus (the Early bishops of Rome) as papa. (To know more, study the life of St. Athanasius to St. Polycarp who are disciples of St. John the Apostle of Jesus.) “And you are Peter, and upon you I shall build my church”, (Matthew 16:18) these words from Christ himself are the words in which was consecrated as the leader (head) of the apostles. Constantine only addressed the Arian heresy by gathering all the bishops to modify the creed of the apostles, the first council of Nicia produces a modified and longer version of the apostles creed that we now call as the Nicine Creed. The creed that all the 5 churches accepted. The term Roman Catholic refers only to a branch of the grater Catholic church, remember that St.Paul addressed the church in rome with his letters to the Romans. An indication that the Roman Catholic church was already organized before he even became an apostle.

    2. Our Lord made Peter the first Pope in Matthew 16:18. Also in the Gospel of St. John, Our Lord commands Peter to feed His sheep and His lambs, that is, the Clergy and the Laity. It is Peter who strengthens and teaches his brethren, firstly his fellow Bishops, and then the lower Clergy and Laity.
      The Catholic Church was founded by Our Lord when He called the Twelve Apostles (also known as the Apostolic College). The Church was then formally established when Our Lord instituted the Holy Mass at the Last Supper when He consecrated the Chalice and also when His Precious Blood was spilt on the Cross. In Jewish culture, a husband and wife would drink blessed wine from a chalice, in this case the Blood of Christ. The Church is represented by the Apostles, who drink from the Chalice at the Lord’s command to signify the Mystical Union betwixt Christ and His Church.
      Before the 16th Century, the Church was known either as “the Church” or “the Catholic Church”. The term “Roman Catholic Church” was a phrase coined by the Protestants, since they feigned to think of themselves as “reformed Catholics”, and is not really a formal name for the Church. From what I have read so far, the term “Roman Catholic” doesn’t even appear in the documents of Vatican II. However, I digress.
      All the Church Fathers attest that Peter was the first Pope, from whom the succession continues to the present day, spanning 2,000 years, itself a miracle. The first time the Church is called “Catholic” which means “Universal” is by St. Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd Century.
      The term “Holy Roman Church” or “Roman Church” refers specifically to the Diocese of Rome, of which the Pope is the Bishop of, hence why he’s called “the Bishop of Rome”. However, the term “Catholic” and “Roman” often get used interchangeably in Papal Documents. For example, the Church is sometimes called ” the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church”, or something to that degree.
      The Catholic Church is made up of different Rites summarised as the Roman/Latin Rite and the Eastern Rite. Each Rite has a specific way of celebrating the Sacraments according to Tradition, but all the Churches are under the immediate authority of the Pope. The Catholic Church is really a sort of “confederation” of Churches united under one Supreme Head. There even varying Canon Laws regarding how the Sacraments are celebrated in each Rite. For example, a Priest from an Eastern Rite can be married (before his ordination not after), but a Latin Rite Priest cannot be married. However, there are some Latin Rite Priests who are married, but they are Protestant ministers who converted to the Catholic Faith and the Church allows them to keep their wives and children. However, these married Latin Rite Priests cannot be elevated to the Episcopacy (the College of Bishops).

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