Pope Anastasius IV: Rome rejoices and reconcilesInstallment Forty Seven
The death of Pope Blessed Eugene III caused the cardinals to once again convene in conclave, this time in Rome, free of the terror of the Roman families. They immediately elected the Roman cardinal priest Corrado as the 168th successor to Peter on July 8, 1153. Though he was one of the oldest, he was also the most experienced, having been appointed to the red hat by Pope Paschal II around 1114 and being an invaluable right-hand man for Pope Honorius II in his dealings with Monte Cassino. In late 1126 he was elevated to cardinal bishop of Santa Sabina, strongly defending Pope Innocent II in his battle against the antipope Anacletus II. While Innocent was in exile, Corrado remained in Rome, performing the duties of the Pope in Innocent's absence and with the latter's blessing. Because of his experience, he continued the same papal responsibilities when Blessed Eugene III had to flee Rome because of the clash between the Frangipani and Pierleoni clans. Therefore, his selection as the next pontiff was a given according to his peers.
Corrado took the name POPE ANASTASIUS IV, the first Anastasius since 911. Because of his familiarity with Rome, papal affairs, and popularity among the Romans as one of their own, Anastasius enjoyed a peaceful coexistence allowing the Church to gain in prestige throughout the City of Seven Hills and the rest of Italy. The Roman Senate, to celebrate his elevation, insisted on Anastasius being enthroned publicly at the Lateran Palace, an honor afforded to few pontiffs. Thus on July 12, 1253 he was officially crowned before a massive multitude of cheering citizens. This gentle, peace-loving pontiff, beloved by Rome, was instrumental in beginning the restoration of the ancient Pantheon and other buildings in Rome as well as numerous churches and shrines as well as bringing about the pacification of the most of the other temporal domains of the Church. Seeking peace on all fronts, Anastasius was effective in ending long-standing disputes that had divided Rome, Europe and the Holy See. Such examples were his recognizing Saint William of York as archbishop of York on the death of Archbishop Henry Murdac whom Eugene had deposed. Anastasius also ratified an appointment by Frederick Barbarossa in the see of Magdeburg which had been denied by the Pope's predecessors. In fact, recognizing the value of alienship with Barbarossa, Anastasius made several favorable decisions for the German King Barbarossa. Anastasius also was able to penetrate Scandinavia, installing Peter's Pence in both Norwary and Sweden, through the tireless efforts of his papal legate Nicholas Breakspear, the English monk who would become Anastasius' successor when the latter died on December 3, 1154 after less than a year and half on the papal throne. Anastasius was given a royal burial, interred at the Lateran in the porphyry sarcophagus of Saint Helena.
To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.