With the death of Pope Gelasius in Cluny, the College of Cardinals turned to royalty, electing Cardinal Guy of Vienne as the 162nd successor to Peter. Cardinal Guy had been born around 1050 in Quingey, France, the son of the prestigious Count William of Burgundy with royal blood ties to King Henry I of England, King Louis VI in France and the German Emperor Henry V whom we detailed in previous installments. Because of the regal influence, Guy rose quickly through the ranks of the Church, becoming a priest and then, in 1088, archbishop of Vienne where he was appointed legate for Pope Paschal II. It was bittersweet for Guy for it was at Vienne that his uncle Henry V was excommunicated by Pascal over the lay investiture issue. Cardinal Guy was greatly influenced by the reforms of Pope Saint Gregory VII and sought to carry them out always. Thus he was the ideal candidate to succeed Gelasius. Though he didn't feel worthy of being the supreme pontiff, he agreed after a time in prayer and chose the name Pope Calixtus II on February 8, 1119 in honor of the memory of the martyred Pope Saint Calixtus in the third century. Because of the difficult circumstances the Church found itself in as detailed in past installments, the Cardinals still in Rome and the people there had no choice but to agree to Calixtus as Pope. The problems and division that had arisen in past regimes because of the lay investiture issue had taken its toll and Calixtus dedicated his papacy to trying to bring reconciliation and accord to this issue. Because of his relationship to Henry V, many were optimistic that his goals could be reached. Almost immediately Calixtus sent envoys to the German Emperor with overtures to solve the discord by assuring Henry and his court that if he would forgo the right of investiture he could be reinstated with all the honors, services, and allegiance of the faithful and the Church. Henry was open to the offer since he had grown weary from the battles with Rome and the problems within his own boundaries. Thus Henry drafted a treaty that was signed at Mouzon on the Meuse in Southern Germany by representatives of Henry and Calixtus. However the terms were not clearly laid out and through the paranoia that existed within the Vatican over the years, Calixtus was filled with misconceptions about Henry's intentions. Because of this misunderstanding Calixtus publicly rechastised the emperor and declared Him anathema on October 30, 1119 at Rheims. Needless to say Henry did not take kindly to this betrayal as he felt it was, but, because of internal problems could not retaliate. Almost immediately Calixtus left Rheims and journeyed triumphantly to Rome through Lombardy and Tuscany, being well-received by all because of his actions against Henry. He arrived to a tumultous reception in Rome on June 3, 1120. Shortly after his arrival, the citizens turned the antipope Gregory VIII over to him. The latter had fled to Sutri, but was captured by the citizens there who surrendered him to Calixtus. Calixtus publicly humiliated Gregory before banning him to a monastery.
For the first time in a while the people were united behind a Pope. Add to this the German princes drew up an agreement at Wurzburg in the fall of 1121 that Henry should recognize this popular Pope. This fed the confidence of Calixtus who realized the error of his hastiness in condemning Henry and sought to resume negotiations for the Pope was, above all, a peacemaker. After clearing the air, Henry met Calixtus at Worms to draw up a concordat or diet which agreed to a settlement between the Holy Roman Emperor and Holy Mother Church whereby the former would agree to all the Church asked for while not demeaning the prestige of the emperor. After volatile negotiations that lasted well into three weeks, the two finally reached an agreement. This was known as the famous Diet of Worms, signed by both parties on September 23, 1122. With this concordat the emperor agreed to relinquish all rights to lay investiture and guaranteed the Church elections and consecrations of bishops and abbeys through the canonical process in return for reinstatement in the Church and the authorization within the emperor's boundaries to not only preside at elections but to invest as the temporal authority in the name of the Church. This last concession, which Calixtus agreed to, would come back to haunt future popes, but for the present, it sufficed for it brought to closure the long-standing battle between the empire and the Church over the lay investiture issue. With this diet the free elections of bishops were guaranteed to the chapters of the respective cathedrals and subject first and foremost to the approval of the Pope, not the emperor. While Calixtus was a good pope and an honest man, in truth he had one small failing: he suffered from vanity, not only eating up the popularity but also commissioning artisans to paint eloquent frescos at the Lateran depicting his triumphant landmark signing of the Diet of Worms. This site was the stage for the first Lateran Council - the Ninth Ecumenical Council which Calixtus convened in March 1123. The 300 bishops and cardinals and 600 abbeys in attendance ratified the Concordat of Worms and passed numerous other legislation as well as releasing twenty two disciplinary canons which included a landmark decision on celibacy. Previous to that time if a priest had married it was considered valid by the Church even though he was greatly chastised for his grave sin. With the announcement at the Council, any such marriage would be declared null and void with even greater chastisement for the offending priest or religious. As always, the strict reformers called the Pope to task for being too lenient with Henry V, but Calixtus argued that, though he had made concessions to the emperor, they were done solely in the interest of peace. The council also renewed the call for crusaders introduced by Pope Urban II and reinforced the need for protection for the troops as well as pilgrims and called for severe penalties to those who violated the Truce of God. This Truce forbade any fighting on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as during Advent and Lent. All knights were constantly told that to attack the weak and defenseless was cowardly and there was no excuse for this activity. They were persuaded to enter battle only for the purpose of defending home and family and in the cause for justice or defending the Faith such as the Crusades. It was Calixtus who had approved the foundation of the Knights of St. John, known to many as the Hospitallers, the Order of Knights-Templars both of which would carry out many of the duties of the Crusaders along with the Teutonic Knights who were known for their fearlessness. In addition, they confirmed that all ordinations performed by the antipope Gregory were null and void.
While Calixtus was known as the "Pope of peace," he, like many of the pontiffs, was a military leader who led his men into battle. This leader of the Church became greatly feared by those who would usurp the rights of others such as the Roman lords and would-be invaders. Calixtus believed in an open-door policy and welcomed all into his quarters. One of these was Saint Norbert who sought his protection and approval of his Premonstratensian Order. Norbert had resided in luxury in the court of Henry, but amended his ways and became a canon in the church of St. Victor in his hometown of Premontre where he began his concept of reformed canons with the Premonstratorians. Calixtus, seeing the sincerity and fruits wrought by St. Norbert, readily approved and promoted his congregation. Calixtus had other ambitions for the Church, but his death on December 14, 1124 cut short those plans of the 74 year-old pontiff. Some of his objectives were passed on to successors, but many died with him as once again the Church was faced with the reality of having to start over. The in-fighting over the selection of the next pope would greatly hinder the prestige the Church had regained during the papacy of Pope Calixtus II. In the next chapter we will delve into the problems besetting his successor Pope Honorius II.