We continue our on-going series of this abridged History of the Mass and Holy Mother Church over a 2000 year span called 2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER. Today we cover the second half of the Eleventh Century from Pope Saint Leo IX up to Pope Saint Gregory VII. Between these holy Pontiffs would erupt the Great East-West Schism that has forever split the Orthodox Church from the Latin rite. Also this period would see the rise of the Norman influence in Sicily and southern Italy and the establishment of the College of Cardinals as the exclusive voting body for papal elections while clamping down on lay investiture, simony and clerical celibacy. For Installment thirty-four The New Millennium - The Great Schism and its aftermath, see BARQUE OF PETER
As we indicated last installment, St. Leo IX was of Alsace-Lorraine nationality and assumed the papal throne on March 12, 1049 after a nine-month vacancy. Unlike so many of his predecessors, there was no outside pressures for his election and he was freely elected jointly by the clergy and the Roman people. In entering Rome to be crowned, he showed the world he was the servant of the servants for, in humble submission to God and the people, he donned the garb of a hermit and walked bare-foot to St. Peter's. He chose the name Leo to reinstate the purity of the early Church. He illustrated this by calling his first synod a month later in April where he chastised anyone who would even think of simony and clerical unchastity. He didn't hesitate to depose a number of simoniacal bishops. Three of his greatest allies in carrying out his decrees were three men from Lorraine: Frederick of Liege who would go on to become Pope Stephen IX, Cardinal Humbert of Moyenmoutier who would become Leo's closest advisor and his secretary of state, and a humble and wise monk named Hildebrand who would go on to become the great Pope Saint Gregory VII. Leo also had the wise counsel of the Benedictine Saint Peter Damiani who would be made a cardinal by Stephen IX but in truth chose to remain a simple monk who would eventually be declared a Doctor of the Church.
While Leo was working on internal affairs, larger external affairs could not be ignored. These were the invasion of the Normans in Sicily and south Italy and in May, 1053 he ill-advisedly led an army against the Normans, thinking the Byzantines Emperor would come to his assistance on the eastern flank. But they never did. He suffered a devastating defeat near Civitate and was captured on June 18, 1053. Though the Normans treated him fairly in incarcerating him for nine months, it went from bad to worse when the Byzantine Emperor retaliated against Leo because he had interferred in southern Italy which had been claimed by the Eastern Empire. The anti-Latin Patriarch Cerularius, a fanatic from the outset, reacted vehemently and shut down all the Latin churches in Constantinople as well as initiating an even greater attack on the teachings of the Western Church, demeaning Rome's use of unleavened bread for hosts. Cardinal Humbert, on behalf of the imprisoned Pontiff, sought to argue the case for Rome and traveled to Constantinople relying on the ancient Donation of Constantine to back his arguments. But it proved a dismal failure. Meanwhile, because of political pressure and in an effort to patch things up the Eastern Emperor freed St. Leo in January 1054 and he was returned to Rome but not allowed to travel to Constantinople. It wouldn't really matter for Leo would die on April 19, 1054 at the age of only 52 from complications brought on by his imprisonment.
With no Pope on the throne, Cardinal Humbert, though not the Sovereign Pontiff, carried out the wishes of the dead Pope and returned in the summer of 1054. When once again Cerularius balked, things deteriorated quickly; so much so that on July 16, 1054, at Leo's previous orders, Cardinal Humbert placed the edict of excommunication on Cerularius and his followers before a packed congregation by setting a bull on the altar of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral. A week later Cerularius shot back with his own excommunication on July 24, 1054 and thus was born the Great East-West Schism that continues to this day.
It wasn't until the following spring on April 13, 1055 that another Supreme Pontiff was chosen, again through the influence of Henry III the Holy Roman Emperor who chose his fourth German Pope. He was Count Hartwig Gebhard from Bavaria who had greatly opposed Leo's military endeavors. When he assumed the papacy he took the name Pope Victor II. Two months after being named the 153rd successor of Peter, he and Henry jointly called a Synod at Florence where it was clear Henry's intent was to gain political clout in Italy. Another insurrection ensued with the Normans and Victor had to turn to Henry for alliance against this threat that forced Frederick of Liege's brother Godfrey to flee for his life while his wife and children were captured. Frederick resigned his post as Chancellor of the Church and retreated to Monte Cassino to live out his life as a monk, leaving Victor virtually defenseless. This became even more apparent when Henry died on October 5, 1056 unable to come to Victor's aid though Victor was able to bless the Emperor on his death bed. Victor held two more synods, one at the Lateral in April 1057 in which he promoted Frederick to abbot at the Benedictine monastery as well as a cardinal; the second at Arezzo on July 23, 1057. Less than a week later he caught a deadly fever and passed away on July 28, 1057.
Victor was followed by Frederick who came out of the monastery to become the next Pope after suggesting five names, two of which were his dear friends Hildebrand and Cardinal Humbert. But when the electors clamored for him to take the papal reigns he accepted, taking the name
Pope Stephen IX because he was elected on the feast of Saint Stephen the first martyr on August 2, 1957. His pontificate lasted less than a year and had he lived longer it is possible he could have done more to raise the moral standards of the clergy which he established as his main goal, beginning at his beloved Monte Cassino where he tried to reinstate the holy rule of poverty. Like Leo and Victor, Stephen leaned heavily on Humbert and Hildebrand. Knowing he was dying he traveled to Florence to meet with his brother Godfrey who had regained control of central Italy. Before he had left he had decreed that no successor could be elected until Hildebrand returned from Germany and his meeting with the new German Emperor Henry IV. He died in Florence on March 29, 1058.
Meanwhile back in Rome, while his clergy were loyal to Stephen's wish, some Roman families weren't and once again created havoc by electing their own antipope Benedict X who was thrust on the throne on April 5, 1058 though he never wanted it. When Hildebrand returned in the fall of 1058 the cardinals convened and elected Gerard of Lorraine as the 155th in the line of Peter on December 6, 1058. He chose the name Pope Nicholas II and didn't take office until January 24, 1058 because of the problems with Benedict. His first act was to call a synod at Sutri where Benedict stepped aside, clearing the way for Nicholas II to return to Rome. He called a subsequent in on April 13, 1059 at the Lateran in which was decreed that future elections of the Pope should be made first by the cardinals, then approved by the eligible clergy and finally the approval of the people to prevent the power of the Roman families from establishing their own on the papal throne. This decree established the inital College of Cardinals which in future years would eliminate the role of clergy and the people and leave the elections exclusively to the Sacred Conclave of cardinals. He also forbade the investiture of bishops without the Holy See approving, thus ruling out lay investiture, a sticky issue for centuries. He also sought reconciliation with the Normans in an attempt to reunify Italy and to seek peace at the recommendation of the peacemaker Hildebrand. Like many of his predecessors, Nicholas' pontificate was short lived for he died on July 27, 1061.
Once again the cardinals convened, this time free of interference from outside and they chose Hildebrand, but the latter respectfully declined and they compromised on Cardinal Anselm who became Pope Alexander II on September 30, 1061. Unfortunately, the German court was somehow not aware or did not acknowledge Nicholas' decrees of election of Popes and therefore offered their own - Honorius II who was elected antipope on October 28, 1061. Alexander was born in Milan and politics was not his cup of tea for he was more intent on religious matters which is not a slam against him, just an indication of how the opposition was able to gain the upper hand because of his naievete to manipulations going on. Alexander leaned heavily on St. Peter Damiani's counsel and this is another reason he leaned so heavily toward spiritual affairs. He took great strides to reform the clergy in France, reinforcing the repentence of Berengar of Tours as to the real presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Tumult ensued when Henry IV tried to nominate Godfrey as the new Archbishop of Milan and Alexander fell back on the lay investiture decree that demanded papal approval. When Rome rejected Henry's selection, bad blood evolved between the two since the latter had supported Honorius but Alexander's gentle ways won the people over and on May 31, 1065 Honorius was driven out after he had caused havoc by attacking Rome and seizing the impregnable Castel Sant'Angelo. A Synod was called by the German bishops who, hearing the pros for Alexander by St. Peter Damiani, decided in the legitimate Pope's favor. Unlike his predecessors, Alexander enjoyed a longer pontificate - twelve years. During that time he had turned his attention eastward in an effort to reconcile with Constantinople, the first Pope to do so since Leo IX, but sadly nothing ever came of it - the chasm was that deep. He died on April 21, 1073 paving the way for the man who the cardinals had wanted to be Pope for many years - Hildebrand - the holy monk who would reform the Church as Pope Saint Gregory VII.
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith, concentrating on the Books of the New Testament with today's introduction to Paul's Epistle to the Colossians. For the ninty-first installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
Paul met the danger by sending (63 A.D.) a letter to Colossae, borne by Tychicus (4, 7-9). To counter the errors he set forth in clear terms the true doctrine concerning Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, head of the mystical body, the Church (1, 15-2, 3), and drew up rules for an ideal Christian life (3, 5-4, 6). Between these positive sections, the Apostle inserted a vigorous condemnation of the false teachings (2, 4-3, 4). Because of the emphatic statement of Christ's divinity that they contain, the first two chapters of the letter are of great doctrinal importance.
The Epistles to the Colossians bears a remarkable resemblance to the Epistle to the Ephesians. Most of the words and phrases of this shorter letter are met with in the other also. Written at the same time, both were addressed to communities of Jewish and pagan converts, struggling in like circumstances to maintain the purity of their faith. The two Epistles should be read and studied together.
We continue with this special series introducing you to the Princes of the Church. Our one-hundred-forty-eighth red-hat we feature, in alphabetical order is nearly 88 year-old Cardinal Louis-Albert Vachon, the Archbishop emeritus of Quebec who served that see for 23 years. He was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope John Paul II at the age of 73 during his Consistory of May 25, 1985. For more on Cardinal Louis-Albert Vachon, see COLLEGE OF CARDINALS COLLECTION
At the age of 65 Monsignor Vachon was named Titular Bishop of Mesarfelta and Auxiliary of Quebec by Pope Paul VI on April 4, 1977 and ordained on May 14, 1977. Four years later Pope John Paul II appointed him the new Archbishop of Quebec on March 20, 1981. During this time he also was elected President of the Bishops' Conference of Quebec and also played a significant part in organizing the Papal Visit to Quebec in 1984. Many believe that success played a major role in his being named a cardinal by the Holy Father a year later during the Consistory of May 25, 1985 when he received his red-hat and the titular church of St. Paul of the Cross a Corviale. He resigned his post as head of the See of Quebec on March 17, 1990 after reaching the age of 78. He lives in retirement at the bishop's quarters at 1 rue des Remparts in Quebec.
On this date 300 years ago in 1700 Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, the French religious who founded the Sisters of Notre Dame which became a mighty force in Catholic education throughout North America, especially in Canada where her feast is celebrated today. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
Historical Events in Church Annals for January 19:
Death of Saint Bassian, Bishop of Lodi, Italy and close confidant of Saint Ambrose.
Death of Saint Lomer, priest, hermit and founder of the Benedictine monastery of Corbion outside of Chartres, France.
Death of Saint Nathalan, Bishop of Aberdeen and founder of several churches throughout Scotland, especially in and around Aberdeen.
Death of Saint Remigius, son of Charles Martel. Remigius was the Archbishop of Rouen who promoted the Latin rite and chant throughout Gaul to the Franks.
Election of Pope Benedict VI as 134th successor of Peter. This Roman born pontiff's rule would only be six months as the Antigerman faction would break loose after the death of Otto I and the insurgents would besiege Castel Sant'Angelo, imprisoning Benedict and looking the other way when his killers entered the prison. He would play a large role in the Hungarian peoples' conversion to Christianity.
Birth of Saint Canute who would go on to become King of Denmark and be martyred for his faith along with seventeen other faithful subjects. He would be stabbed to death at the foot of the altar after Holy Mass by his jealous brother.
Death of Saint Wulfstan, Anglo-Saxon bishop of Worcester, England who would defend the faith against Norman invasion and end Bristol's slave trade.
Death of Saint Henry of Finland, Bishop of Uppsala, Sweden. He was martyred by an angry convert who would not adhere to the penance Henry had imposed in the confessional. He is considered the patron saint of Finland.
Death of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, foundress of the Religious Order of the Sisters of Notre Dame, a teaching order that would prosper throughout North America. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Death of Saint Germanicus, martyr from Smyrna who was tossed to the lions in the amphitheater as sport for the Romans.
Historical Events in Church Annals for January 19:
413 A.D. Death of Saint Bassian, Bishop of Lodi, Italy and close confidant of Saint Ambrose.
593 A.D. Death of Saint Lomer, priest, hermit and founder of the Benedictine monastery of Corbion outside of Chartres, France.
678 A.D. Death of Saint Nathalan, Bishop of Aberdeen and founder of several churches throughout Scotland, especially in and around Aberdeen.
772 A.D. Death of Saint Remigius, son of Charles Martel. Remigius was the Archbishop of Rouen who promoted the Latin rite and chant throughout Gaul to the Franks.
973 A.D. Election of Pope Benedict VI as 134th successor of Peter. This Roman born pontiff's rule would only be six months as the Antigerman faction would break loose after the death of Otto I and the insurgents would besiege Castel Sant'Angelo, imprisoning Benedict and looking the other way when his killers entered the prison. He would play a large role in the Hungarian peoples' conversion to Christianity.
1040 A.D. Birth of Saint Canute who would go on to become King of Denmark and be martyred for his faith along with seventeen other faithful subjects. He would be stabbed to death at the foot of the altar after Holy Mass by his jealous brother.
1095 A.D. Death of Saint Wulfstan, Anglo-Saxon bishop of Worcester, England who would defend the faith against Norman invasion and end Bristol's slave trade.
1156 A.D. Death of Saint Henry of Finland, Bishop of Uppsala, Sweden. He was martyred by an angry convert who would not adhere to the penance Henry had imposed in the confessional. He is considered the patron saint of Finland.
1700 A.D. Death of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, foundress of the Religious Order of the Sisters of Notre Dame, a teaching order that would prosper throughout North America. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".
"Some years ago the cloister of Carmelite nuns was opened to the public on the feast of St. Therese. Many curious people poured in to see those women who led a life of silence, prayer and penance. One man who could not understand their life called the attention of a young and beautiful nun to the finest residence in the city which stood on the opposite hill. He said to her: 'Sister, if you could have had that home, with all the wealth, luxury and pleasure that went with it, would you have left it to enter the Carmelites?' She ansered: 'Sir, that was my home.'"
Today is the Second Wedesday in Ordinary Time in the Church Year while tomorrow is the Second Thursday in Ordinary Time and the Feast of Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian, Martyrs. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and the profile on these saints, see DAILY LITURGY.
St. Sebastian was born shortly after Pope Fabian's death. He became a Roman army officer and converted to Christianity, rescuing Christians who had been unjustly accused. He discovered that Christian twin brothers MarcusandMarcellinus, who had been imprisoned and tortured, were close to succumbing to the enticing offers of pagan relatives to give up their faith. Sebastian encouraged them to stand by Christ and die for Him if necessary. This was confirmed by a miraculous light shining about him as he spoke. Sebastian cured countless sick through prayer and, by his example, led many pagans to the true faith. He encouraged all to not be afraid to die for the faith for Heaven would be their reward for their loyalty to the Son of God. Sebastian even experienced a visit from one of his disciples who had been martyred. This disciple came back to tell him about Heaven and that his own time to die was at hand. Betrayed by a false disciple, he was condemned to death by the emperor Diocletian and shot with arrows. Left for dead, he miraculously was healed by Divine intervention and proceeded to go right back into the teeth of the enemy, pleading for Diocletian to stop the senseless slaughter of Christians. But the emperor's soul was already satan's and he sentenced Sebastian to be beaten to death by brutal clubbing. This saint holds the honor of a double martyrdom or "Martyr Extraordinaire."
"And He said to the man with the withered hand, 'Stand forth in the midst.' And He said to them, ' Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil? to save a life, or to destroy it?' But they kept silence. And looking round upon them with anger, and being grieved at the blindness of their hearts, He said to the man, 'Stretch forth thy hand.' And he stretched it forth, and his hand was restored."