Friday, May 19, 2017

Feast of St. Peter Celestine

St. Celestine V (1294)

Today, 19 May, is the feast day of Pope St. Celestine V -- listed in many missals as St. Peter Celestine.  He is famous as one of the few popes prior to Pope Benedict XVI to have abdicated.

His in 1294AD was the previous resignation case before Pope Gregory XII in the 15th century, and is, perhaps, more similar to that of 2013 than Gregory XII.

The death of Nicholas IV (1288-1292), a Franciscan and patron of the arts, led to a very long conclave (the earlier strict rules of conclave had been suspended, so the cardinals could come and go).  Nicholas IV having died in 1292, the conclave to elect his successor only included 12 cardinals, of which 8 were required for the required majority.  The rival Orsini and Colonna families each controlled 3, France had 2, and there were 4 “independent” Italians, including Cardinal Gaetani, the future Boniface VIII.  The deadlocked cardinals finally selected Peter of Moroni, a hermit and certainly politically non-aligned, in 1294.  He took the name Celestine V.  Unfortunately, he would be under the domination of King Charles II (1285-1309) in Naples throughout his short pontificate and would be taken advantage of by unscrupulous types.

"The thought of abdication seems to have occurred simultaneously to the pope and to his discontented cardinals,... whom he rarely consulted. That the idea originated with Cardinal Gaetani the latter vigorously denied, and maintained that he originally opposed it. But the serious canonical doubt arose: Can a pope resign? As he has no superior on earth, who is authorized to accept his resignation? The solution of the question was reserved to the trained canonist, Cardinal Gaetani, who, basing his conclusion on common sense and the Church's right to self-preservation, decided affirmatively." Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Celestine V

The man who convinced the otherworldly pontiff to resign, Boniface VIII (1294-1303), became pope, then, in 1294.  He is famous for being put in Hell by Dante (some think St. Celestine V, too, is there, as being the "one who made the great refusal."), his disputes with the kings of his day, and for his hard-hitting papal bull, Unam Sanctam of 1302: Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

You might also check this site for information on Pope St. Celestine V and Benedict XVI's recent visit to his tomb: Benedict XVI honors St. Celestine V

As always, for a short summary of his life, you might note:
Catholic Saints Info: St. Celestine V

Live well.

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