"The second way of preserving ourselves from an unseemly greed is the heroic way...the way of complete detachment from wealth, as practiced by St. Francis of Assisi and all those who take the vows of poverty. There is a paradox in such a renunciation, for the man who has given up even the hope of 'security' is the richest man in the world; he is the most secure of all of us, for he wants nothing...and that is a boast no millionaire can make."
The Jerusalem-born Pope Theodore I becomes the 73rd in the line of Peter. His papacy would last seven years and he died of poisoning at the hands of schismatics. He added the title "Sovereign" to that of "Pontiff," and restored order to the internal Jurisdiction of the clergy. His seven year papacy would be marked by grave disagreements between himself and the Eastern Emperor Costans II.
Pope Alexander III returns to Rome at the invitation of the citizens on this date from exile after Frederick of Barbarossa had established the antipope Paschal III. Though he was welcome, he could not offset the ruthless power of Barbarossa.
Birth of Blessed Junipero Serra in Petra on the island of Majorca. He would go on to enter the Franciscan Order in 1730 and become the pioneer missionary of the west coast of America, establishing 21 missions in California and dying there in Monterrey on August 28, 1784.
Cardinal Umberto Crivelli, the prelate who had planned the "Lombard League" is chosen the 172nd successor of Peter and takes the name Pope Urban III. This Milan-born pontiff wouls serve until October 20, 1187. He was elected in Verona and there he set up his papal court. He stood up firmly against the arrogance of Frederick Barbarossa and died of sorrow when the Saracens took possession of his beloved Jerusalem.
Cardinal Giovanni Gaetano Orsini becomes Pope Nicholas III, the 188th in the line of Peter. His pontificate would last three years until August 22, 1280. He was the first sovereign pontiff to reside permanently in the Vatican and it was Nicholas who began laying out the famous papal gardens. He also sent missionaries to convert the Tartar kings.
Pope Clement XIII issues his fourth encyclical Christianae reipublicae which warns of the grave dangers of anti-Christian writings so prevalent during that time, especially in France.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, first Catholic president of the United States, is laid to rest in Arlington Cemetary after an internationally televised funeral Mass.
Pope Pelagius II is chosen the 63rd successor of Peter. Born in Rome of Gothic origin, his papacy lasted until February 7, 590 when be became a victim of the plague where countless victims died yawning and sneezing. While Rome was being besieged by the Lombards he would seek help from Constantinople. He would also decree that priests must recite the Divine Office every day.
Death of Saint Edmund Van Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Death of Saint Gozzolini Sylvester, Italian hermit.
Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere is selected the 216th successor of Peter and chooses the name Pope Julius II. His pontificate would last ten years during which he would encourage the arts and contribute to the study magnificence of Rome through the contribution of Italian masters Raphael and Michelangelo and would complete the construction of St. Peter's Basilica. He would also call the 18th Ecumenical Council at the Lateran.
Death of Queen Isabella I, loyal Catholic Queen of Spain who, along with her husband King Ferdinand, commissioned Christopher Columbus to set sail for the west indies and the ultimate discovery of America.
Pope Clement VII signs a treaty with Emperor Charles V procuring his release from Castel Sant'Angelo after six month exile in the round castle near the Vatican guarded by Charles' troops.
Death of Saint John Berchmans, Jesuit novice who would visit the Blessed Sacrament seven times each day of his life. He, along with Saint John Bosco, is the patron saint of altar servers.
Pope Innocent X's papal bull Zelus domus Dei condemns the Peace of Westfalia pact in which Emperor Ferdinand III and Maximilian I of Bavaria concede too many far-reaching concessions to Protestantism.
The Church in France is thrown into further confusion when Napoleon Bonaparte orders the abolishment of the established Gregorian calendar and installs the short-lived Republican calendar. It was one of the little general's devious means to smite the Church further before he would shortly invade the papal states.
Death of Saint James Intercisius, who, after renouncing Christianity in favor of promotion in the Persian army, finally came back to Christ through the intercession of both his mother and wife. However his reconciliation to Our Lord angered the Persian king who ordered James to be cut up - one joint at a time in a painful, morbid martyrdom.
Pope Blessed Urban II launches the campaign to preach the First Crusade against the Saracens.
An attempt is made on the life of Pope Paul VI during a papal trip to the Philippines when a Bolivian painter, disguised as a priest, thrusts a dagger at the 262nd Vicar of Christ.
Death of Pope Saint Gregory III, 90th successor of Peter, whose pontificate lasted ten years. During his papacy he sought the help of Charlemagne against the Lombards. From this fact derives the title of "Most Christian" assumed by the Kings of France ever afterwards. He also established charitable donations to the Holy See, referred to as "Peter's Pence".
Death of Saint Stephen the Younger, abbot who challenged the iconoclasts and led to his being brought before Emperor Constantine Copronymus of Constantinople. He molified the ruler when he asked if it were permissable to deface the image of an emperor. The emperor agreed it was not. Stephen then asked, "then why did he permit the images of Heaven to be destroyed."
Death of Saint Joseph Pignatelli, Spanish Jesuit priest who was a missionary to Russia during a time of suppression for the Society of Jesus. Yet he became the Order's provincial and helped restore the Jesuits in Sardinia and preserve the Order when the French troops occupied Rome. He was declared the "restorer of the Jesuits" by Pope Pius XII when the supreme pontiff canonized Joseph in 1954.
Pope John XXIII publishes his fourth encyclical Princeps Pastorum on the missions and lay participation in missionary endeavors as well as native clergy.
The electors chose as the 93rd successor of Peter a man who chose the name of Pope Paul I in honor of Peter's cohort - the great Saint Paul. Like the latter, this Pope who was elected on May 29, 757, was eventually proclaimed Pope Saint Paul I. Paul's pontificate lasted ten years during which he was noted for encouraging a deeper union with the Greek Church just as Paul did in the first century. Also like the evangelizing Apostle, Pope Paul I visited the prisons and freed those prisoners who were incarcerated for debts. His papacy was wrought with struggles in defending and solidifying the young, very vulnerable Papal State as the Lombards coerced and captured numerous cities despite a truce that had been drawn up. But they were thwarted from taking Rome because of the assistance of King Pepin. He helped further the mystique and importance of the catacombs and the early martyrs, discovering the remains of Saint Petronilla, considered to be the daughter of St. Peter. Pope St. Paul died on June 28, 767.
Because of the year reign of the antipope Constantine, illegally elected a week after Paul's death, the papal throne remained empty until he was deposed and Sicilian-born Pope Stephen III was elected on August 7, 768. Even though another antipope Philip followed Constantine, he immediately stepped down when Stephen was chosen. Stephen's pontificate lasted four years until January 24, 772. He was a healer of hurts and he immediately reconciled the problems caused by Constantine. He should also be remembered for preventing a great wrong that might have forever altered the direction of Holy Mother Church. When he heard of a prearranged marriage between Pepin's son Charles to the Lombard king Desiderius' daughter, he intervened and informed the French king of subterfuge by the Lombards. Charles wised up and renounced the wedding, thus making the Lombards mortal foes of the Franks. However it also endeared Charles, who would become Charlemagne, to the Church as a great ally against the Lombard threat and other interlopers.
Stephen was succeeded by Pope Adrian I or Hadrian, a Roman by birth who restored longevity to the Holy See with his papal reign lasting 23 years. During his papacy Charlemagne subdued the Lombards and gave the Pope some of the regions to expand the Papal States by restoring lands that Desiderius had promised but renegged on. With spoils Charlemagne bestowed on the Holy See, taken by the Lombards, Adrian was able to refortify the walls of Rome and restore the ancient aqueducts. He also used these funds and materials to erect the golden statue of the tomb of St. Peter and the silver pavement in front of the altar of the Confession. In 787he called the 7th Ecumenical Council at Nicaea, called Nicaea II which condemned Iconoclasm. He died on Christmas Day 795.
Two days later the 96th successor of Peter became another Roman-born prelate - Pope Saint Leo III who would usher in the ninth century. His pontificate lasted twenty-one years thus continuing continuity and stability. IT was Leo who founded the Palatine School for the Franks which would evolve into the famous University of Paris. The connection with the Franks would not only be solidified during his papacy, but would key a landmark event that would forever set the course for the Church in Europe. On Christmas Day, 800 he crowned Charlemagne in Rome, reconstituting the Empire of the West as the Holy Roman Empire and making Charlemagne the first Holy Roman Emperor. We will cover more on Leo next week as we cover the Popes of the first half of the ninth century.