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The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

1288-1303 A.D.


Nicholas IV
: 1288-1292 A.D.

191. Born in Ascoli. Elected February, 1288 - died April 4, 1292.

He restored order in the court of Portugal and promoted the development of education, creating the University of Montpellier.

He intensified missions and fought against the Saracens together with Genoa.

He was the first Franciscan Pope.

According to the portrait by Benozzo Golloli in St. Francis of Montefalco, Nicholas was tall and fat.

He had the apse of S. Maria Maggiore built and decorated; Jacopo Torriti and Camerino produced the mosaics in the apse of San Giovanni in Laterano; finally, he laid the foundation stone of the Cathedral of Orvieto.

He was buried in S. Maria Maggiore. His pontificate lasted 4 years and 2 months.


St. Celestine V
: 1294 A.D.

192. Born in Isernia. Elected August 29, 1294 - died May 19, 1296.

He was an extremely moral and simple man, and when he realised he had been merely used by the most powerful people of those gloomy Middle Ages he renounced the pontificate.

He established that the newly elected Pope had the faculty to renounce the election.

After his decision, to which he was lead also by the smart campaign carried forward by Cardinal Caetani, who was to become his successor with the name of Boniface VIII, he was confined into the Castle of Fumone, a small village of the Ciociaria near Ferentino, where he lived as a prisoner under harsh conditions.

His body was transferred to the church of Collemaggio near Aquila. His pontificate lasted only 5 months.


Boniface VIII
: 1294-1303 A.D.

193. Born in Anagni. Elected December 24, 1294 - died October 11, 1303.

He was a great Pope.

He celebrated for the first time the Holy Year (1300), which had to occur every 100 years.

He founded the University "La Sapienza" in Rome.

He was the patron of distinguished artists among whom Giotto.

Philip the Fair, when he was about to be excommunicated, sent some of his followers to Anagni: Guglielmo Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna, breaking the doors of the town open, saw the Pope dressed with pontifical attires and sitting on the throne; historians say that is not true that Nogaret hit the Pope with his iron glove when he offered them "the head and the neck".

Boniface supported the rights of the clergy but encountered the opposition of the kings of Europe.

He added a second crown to the tiara, the "Regal Power"(see also 119 and 200).

He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes. His pontificate lasted 8 years and 10 months.


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