Daily Saints

അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) May 19th – St. Pope Celestine V

അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) May 19th – St. Pope Celestine V

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അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) May 19th – St. Pope Celestine V
Born 1215, in the Neapolitan province of Moline; elected at Perugia 5 July, 1294; consecrated and crowned at Aquila, 29 August; abdicated at Naples, 13 Dec., 1294; died in the castle of Fumone, 19 May, 1296. He was of humble parentage, became a Benedictine at the age of seventeen, and was eventually ordained priest at Rome. His love of solitude led him first into the wilderness of Monte Morone in the Abruzzi, whence his surname, and later into the wilder recesses of Mt. Majella. He took for his model the Baptist. His hair-cloth was roughened with knots; a chain of iron encompassed his emaciated frame; he fasted every day except Sunday ; each year he kept four Lents, passing three of them on bread and water; the entire day and a great part of the night he consecrated to prayer and labour. As generally happens in the case of saintly anchorites, Peter’s desire for solitude was not destined to be gratified. Many kindred spirits gathered about him eager to imitate his rule of life, and before his death there were thirty- six monasteries, numbering 600 religious, bearing his papal name (Celestini). The order was approved, as a branch of the Benedictines, by Urban IV, in 1264. This congregation of (Benedictine) Celestines must not be confounded with other (Franciscan) Celestines, extreme Spirituals whom Pope Celestine permitted (1294) to live as hermits according to the Rule of St. Francis , but were pendent of the Franciscan superiors. In gratitude they called themselves after the pope ( Pauperes eremitæ Domini Celestine ), but were dissolved and dispersed (1302) by Boniface VIII, whose legitimacy the Spirituals contested [Heimbucher, Orden und Kongregationen (2nd ed. Paderborn, 1907); I, 280; II, 360]. In 1284, Pietro, weary of the cares of government, appointed a certain Robert as his vicar and plunged again into the depths of the wilderness. It would be well if some Catholic scholar would devote some time to a thorough investigation of his relations to the extreme spiritual party of that age; for though it is certain that the pious hermit did not approve of the heretical tenets held by the leaders, it is equally true that the fanatics, during his life and after his death, made copious use of his name.

In July, 1294, his pious exercises were suddently interrupted by a scene unparalleled in ecclesiastical history. Three eminent dignitaries, accompanied by an immense multitude of monks and laymen, ascended the mountain, announced that Pietro had been chosen pope by unanimous vote of the Sacred College and humbly begged him to accept the honour. Two years and three months had elapsed since the death of Nicholas IV (4 Apr., 1292) without much prospect that the conclave at Perugia would unite upon a candidate. Of the twelve Cardinals who composed the Sacred College six were Romans, four Italians and two French. The factious spirit of Guelph and Ghibelline, which was then epidemic in Italy, divided the conclave, as well as the city of Rome, into two hostile parties of the Orsini and the Colonna, neither of which could outvote the other. A personal visit to Perugia, in the spring of 1294, of Charles II of Naples, who needed the papal authority in order to regain Sicily, only exasperated the affair, hot words being exchanged betrween the Angevin monarch and Cardinal Gaetani, at that time the intellectual leader of the Colonna, later, as Pope Boniface VIII, their bitter enemy. When the situation seemed hopeless, Cardinal Latino Orsini admonished the fathers that God had revealed to a saintly hermit that if the cardinals did not perform their duty within four months, He would visit the Church with severe chastisement. All knew that he referred to Pietro di Murrone. The proposition was seized upon by the exhausted conclave and the election was made unanimous. Pietro heard of his elevation with tears; but, after a brief prayer, obeyed what seemed the clear voice of God, commanding him to sacrifice his personal inclination on the altar of the public welfare. Flight was impossible, even if he contemplated it; for no sooner did the news of this extraordinary event spread abroad than multitudes (numbered at 200,000) flocked about him. His elevation was particularly welcome to the Spirituals, who saw in it the realization of current prophecies that the reign of the Holy Spirit ruling through the monks was at hand; and they proclaimed him the first legitimate pope since Constantine’s donation of wealth and worldly power to “the first rich father” (Inferno, Canto XIX). King Charles of Naples, hearing of the election of his subject, hastened with his son Charles Martel , titular King of Hungary, ostensibly to present his homage to the new pope, in reality to take the simple old man into honourable custody.

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