Page 4, 13th December 1963

13th December 1963
Page 4
Page 4, 13th December 1963 — Popes on the road, in prison and the mines

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Popes on the road, in prison and the mines


POPE PAUL VI will, as

the papers say, he the first pope to go to the Holy Land, but al least one, besides St. Peter, has come from the Holy Land.

Tcobaldo Visconti. later BI. Pope Gregory X, was actually on pilgrimage in the Holy Land --accompanied by Prince Edward of England. later King — when he was elected Pope.

It was at that celebrated longest-ever Conclave held at Viterbo in 1271 that 1 eobaldo, Archdeacon of Liege, and not then a Cardinal or even a priest, was chosen, The Cardinals, French and Italian, were diVided into two camps. Neither party could poll the necessary two thirds majority vote. Neither party would give way to the candidate of the other. "Negotiations" went on for nearly three years. Until, finally, the head and burgesses of the town, hoping to force a vote, confined the Cardinals to the episcopal palace. cut their food rations, and finally ripped the roof off to hurry a decision. A compromise was finally achieved through the intervention of the French and Sicilian Kings. In September, 1271. they chose Visconti who, incidentally, had accompanied Cardinal Ottohoni and the future Pope Boniface VIII on a mission to England to make peace between Henry III and his rebel barons.

Receiving the summons to go to Viterbo Visconti left the Holy Land and declared his acceptance of the dignity. He took the name of Gregory X. He was ordained priest, consecrated bishop, and then crowned.


A Pope is Pope as soon as he accepts election. Obviously if Visconti set out from the Holy Land to Viterbo he must have decided that he would accept. He accepted while he was in Acre, so it appears that he was pope while he was in the Holy Land--the first pilgrim pope. He lived and worked in an age of renovation, renewal and reform. Within four days of his coronation Gregory summoned a general council to meet at Lyons in May 1274. St. Thomas Aquinas died trying to reach it: St. Bonaventure shed lustre on it until he died.

Gregory's task was enormous and he threw himself into it with vigour. The restoration of peace between Christian nations and princes, the settlement of affairs with the German Empire, the amendment of the mode of life among clergy and people, the union of the Greek Church with Rome, the deliverance of Jerusalem and of the Holy Land. And this wasn't quite the end of his travels. He met Emperor Rudolf of Hapsburg at Lausanne in 1273 and attended the closing sessions of the Council of Lyons at which the short-lived reunion with the Greek Church was effected. The first Pope, St. Peter, was of course quite a traveller. From Palestine he went to Antioch in Syria. He also probably spent some time in Asia Minor and it is historically certain that he went to Rome where he was martyred under Nero. Most of the early papal journies were not in the least willingly undertaken. Among the first was St. Clement (92-101?) who was exiled by Emperor Trojan to the Chersonese (modern Crimea). This holy pope worked with such zeal among the miners that he was condemned to death. He was thrown into the sea with an anchor round his neck.

Another pope banished to the mines was St. Pontian (230-235). He died in Sardinia of ill-treatment —hut not before he had brought hack to the true Faith an anti-pope whom he met there.

Many popes died outside of

Rome though on Italian soil. St. Cornelius (251-253) was martyred in exile at Cent= Cellos the modern Civitavecchia; St. Marcel lus died in exile (309) though it is doubtful where; and his successor St. Eusebius who reigned for only four months was exiled to Sicily where he died.

Less than 50 years later, Pope l.ibcritis (352-366), founder of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, who was harshly treated by Emperor Constans for his refusal to condemn St. Athenasius, underwent a long exile in Thrace during which the emperor set up an anti-pope. Although St. Leo the Great did not actually leave Italy, he went a long way north to meet Attila the Hun, who, with his barbarian hordes, burst over the Alps in 452.

Onrthe banks of the Mincio these two giants of the age, one representing, brute might. and the other moral force, met. And Leo. as we all know, won the day. This great Pope also went outside Rome to bargain with Genseric the Vandal King and got him to spare the lives and homes of the Roman people.

• Another early and unwilling traveller—and one of several who undertook journies to Constantinople—was Pope St. John 1 (523526). He was sent by Emperor Theodric as his embassy to Con stantinople to crown Emperor Justin 1. A disagreeable task at the time, but a journey during which the pope was received with joyful processions. Justin was crowned in Sancta Sophia and John returned to Ravenna—and the Emperor's wrath. Butcher Theodric (an Arian) was waiting for him and threw the Pope into prison. This was in reprisal for measures taken in the meantime against the Arians by Justin. The Pope, already weakened by his journeying, died within weeks. Only a few years later another pope went to Constantinople, and in fact died there. He was St. Agapetus I (535-536). and he pawned the gold and silver vessels of St. Peter's in order to raise funds for the journey. His object was to plead with Emperor Justinian to call off the threatened invasion of Italy. He failed in that, but succeeded in halting the march of the Monophysite heresy. The Greek Church is grateful to Agapetus; he is honoured as a saint in both Greek and Roman calendars. Pope Martin I (649-654) was dragged of to Constantinople on a sea journey that took a year. He had drawn on himself the hate of Emperor Constans by his condemnation of the monothelites. He was condemned to death publicly, but was exiled to the Crimea, where he died in 655. Sixty years later. Pope Constantine journeyed to Constantinople. Stephen ILL who negotiated the original papal states, was the first Pope to cross the Alps (754); St. Leo 111, who crowned Charlemagne, took refuge at Paderborn during a Roman revolt. Another visitor to France was John VIII (872-882). In France he crowned Louis the Stammerer King. He also crowned the Emperor Charles the Fat (881), but received no help from him against the Saracens.

Pius VII Pope Steven V also crossed the Alps and went to Rheims; Pope St. Hadrian Ili was invited by Charles the Fat to a Diet at Worms, but he didn't even get out of Italy, dying at Nonantule in 885. Benedict VIII consecrated Bamberg Cathedral in 1020. The first of the Apostolic or travelling popes, who were obliged or who chose to travel in fulfilment of their functions, was St. Leo IX (1049-1054). He undertook journies of visitation and presided in person over the Council of the Lateran, and synods at Pavia, Rheims, and Mayence. Leo IX—who received Shakespeare's Macbeth of Scotland— went to France and Germany and even led a papal army against the Normans of S. Italy surrendering to them in order to avert more bloodshed. The Normans, rather embarrassed at having a pope for a prisoner, promised to become his allies!

Gelasius II died at Cluny; Pius VI died in captivity in Valence; Innocent II (1130-1143) was driven out of Rome into France by antipope Picrlcone: Bl. Eugene lit had to go twice into exile; Alexander III (1159-1181) -who probably had Thomas a Becket among his students at Bologna and whom he canonised only two years after his murder at Canterbury. had to take refuge in France from Barbarossa and his anti-popes. In 1245 Innocent IV left Rome and held a general counoil at Lyons, while Urban IV (who instituted the feast of Corpus Christi) was unable to enter Rome and lived at Viterbo and then at Orvieto.

A jump of some 50 years and we hear of Pope Clement V being crowned at Lyons, establishing his

residence at Avignon, where the popes were to remain for 70 years.

John XXII was elected at Lyons John XXII was elected at Lyons

and Clement VII (two popes later) actually, though unwisely, nought the city of Avignon from Queen Joan of Naples. Urban V returned to Rome in 1367, but was unable to stay there and died at Avignon. Gregory XI, the last French pope, strengthened by the entreaties of St. Catherine of Siena, returned the papacy to Rome. The French revolutionaries took Pius VI captive in 1789 and sent him to France. Pius VII went to Paris to crown Napoleon as Emperor in 1804, was arrested in 1809 for protesting at Napoleon's growing pretensions, and was kept prisoner in Fontainbleau. Napoleon, excommunicated, seized the papal states. The Pope returned to Rome in 1814.

The " Prisoner of the Vatican " period started late in the troubled reign of Pius IX, continued through Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI. It was broken by Pius XII, flung away by Pope John, and will now be tossed to the four winds by today's pilgrim Pope, Paul VI,

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