samedi 19 mai 2012

Saint PIERRE-CÉLESTIN (CÉLESTIN V), Pape et confesseur

SAINT PIERRE-CÉLESTIN

Pape

(1221-1296)

Pierre, le onzième des douze enfants d'un pauvre fermier italien, naquit en 1221; il reçut une éducation plus soignée que ses frères, grâce aux dispositions extraordinaires d'intelligence et de piété qu'il montra dès son bas âge.

Tout enfant, il racontait naïvement à sa mère les visites qu'il recevait des Anges et de la Sainte Vierge. La mère, pour éprouver la réalité de ces visions, lui ordonna, par un temps de famine, d'aller couper du blé à l'époque où il était encore vert; Pierre y courut et rapporta du blé très beau et très mûr.

Jeune encore, il résolut de quitter le monde pour la solitude. Sa première retraite fut une forêt, où il demeura six jours dans un jeûne et une prière ininterrompus; puis il gravit une montagne sauvage et se retira dans une caverne sombre comme un tombeau, sans autre lit que la terre, sans autre vêtement qu'un cilice.

Pendant trois ans, malgré son jeûne quotidien, il fut assailli de toutes sortes de pensées de découragement, de sensualité, de volupté; mais il était fortifié par les fréquentes visions des Anges. Il consentit à recevoir le sacerdoce, afin de trouver dans l'Eucharistie un soutien contre les tentations.

La sainteté du solitaire lui attira des disciples: ce fut l'origine de cette branche de l'Ordre de Saint-Benoît, dont les religieux sont appelés Célestins. Ils vivaient sous des huttes faites avec des épines et des branches, mais Dieu réjouissait leur affreuse solitude par de suaves harmonies célestes et par la visite des bienheureux esprits.

Bien plus austère que ses religieux, Pierre ne mangeait que du pain de son très noir et très dur; jeûnant quatre carêmes, ne prenant généralement que des herbes crues, une seule fois tous les trois jours. Couvert d'instruments de pénitence, il couchait sur le fer plutôt que sur la terre: une voix céleste vint lui ordonner de diminuer cette pratique excessive de la mortification.

Après une vacance inouïe du Saint-Siège pendant vingt-sept mois, le choix des cardinaux alla chercher le pauvre moine au fond de son désert. Pierre, âgé de soixante-douze ans, subit en pleurant la violence qui lui fut faite; mais, quelques mois après, se jugeant au-dessous d'une charge si lourde, à laquelle, il est vrai, il n'était préparé que par sa sainteté, il abdiqua le souverain pontificat, reprit l'habit de moine et voulut retourner dans sa solitude, où il mourut.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.


Détail du panneau central d'un triptyque représentant saint Pierre Célestin (pape Célestin V) et des moines.
Castello di Casaluce, Campania


St Pierre Célestin, pape et confesseur

A Ferentino, en 1296, déposition de saint Pierre ermite, qui fut pape de juillet à décembre 1294 sous le nom de Célestin V.

Canonisé à Avignon par Clément V en 1313, d’abord honoré comme simple confesseur et non pontife : ‘Sancti Petri, confessoris, olim Celestini, papæ’ annonce le calendrier de la chapelle papale du XIVe siècle.

En 1668 : fête de Saint Pierre Célestin, pape.

Leçon des Matines avant 1960

Pierre, nommé Célestin, du nom qu’il prit lorsqu’il fut élu Pape, naquit de parents honnêtes et catholiques à Isernia dans les Abruzzes. A peine adolescent, il se retira dans le désert pour garantir son âme des séductions du monde. Là, il se nourrissait l’esprit de contemplation, réduisait son corps en servitude, et portait sur lui une chaîne de fer. Il institua, d’après la règle de saint Benoît, la congrégation connue depuis sous le nom de Célestins. Il ne devait pas demeurer caché, et c’est de sa solitude, qu’à son insu et malgré son éloignement, il fut appelé à occuper la chaire de saint Pierre. L’Église romaine avait été longtemps sans pasteur : il fut placé à sa tête, comme on place la lumière sur le chandelier ; tout le monde en fut non moins étonné que ravi. Élevé à la dignité sublime du pontificat, Pierre sentit que la multitude des affaires lui permettait à peine de vaquer à ses méditations, et il renonça volontairement aux honneurs et aux charges. Ayant repris son ancien genre de vie, il s’endormit dans le Seigneur. Sa belle mort fut rendue plus glorieuse encore par l’apparition d’une croix lumineuse que l’on vit briller dans les airs devant la porte de sa retraite. Pendant sa vie et après sa mort il fit d’éclatants miracles : ils furent examinés suivant les règles, et Clément V l’inscrivit au nombre des Saints, onze ans après sa mort.

Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

A côté de Léon, l’insigne Docteur, Jésus ressuscité appelle en ce jour l’humble Pierre Célestin, Pontife suprême comme Léon, mais à peine assis sur la chaire apostolique, qu’il en est descendu pour retourner au désert. Entre tant de héros dont est formée la chaîne des Pontifes romains, il devait s’en rencontrer à qui fût donnée la charge de représenter plus spécialement la noble vertu d’humilité ; et c’est à Pierre Célestin que la grâce divine a dévolu cet honneur. Arraché au repos de sa solitude pour être élevé sur le trône de saint Pierre et tenir dans ses mains tremblantes les formidables clefs qui ouvrent et ferment le ciel, le saint ermite a regardé autour de lui ; il a considéré les besoins de l’immense troupeau du Christ, et sondé ensuite sa propre faiblesse. Oppressé sous le fardeau d’une responsabilité qui embrasse la race humaine tout entière, il s’est jugé incapable de supporter plus longtemps un tel poids ; il a déposé la tiare, et imploré la faveur de se cacher de nouveau à tous les regards humains dans sa chère sollicitude. Ainsi le Christ, son Maître, avait d’abord enfoui sa gloire dans une obscurité de trente années, et plus tard sous le nuage sanglant de sa Passion et sous les ombres du sépulcre. Les splendeurs de la divine Pâque ont tout à coup dissipé ces ténèbres, et le vainqueur de la mort s’est révélé dans tout son éclat. Mais il veut que ses membres aient part à son triomphe, et que la gloire dont ils brilleront éternellement soit, comme la sienne, en proportion de leur empressement à s’humilier dans les jours de cotte vie mortelle. Quelle langue pourrait décrire l’auréole qui entoure le front de Pierre Célestin, en retour de cette obscurité au sein de laquelle il a cherché l’oubli des hommes avec plus d’ardeur que d’autres ne recherchent leur estime et leur admiration ? Grand sur le trône pontifical, plus grand au désert, sa grandeur dans les cieux dépasse toutes nos pensées.

Vous avez obtenu l’objet de votre ambition, ô Célestin ! Il vous a été accordé de descendre les degrés du trône apostolique, et de rentrer dans le calme de cette vie cachée qui avait si longtemps fait toutes vos délices. Jouissez des charmes de l’obscurité que vous aviez tant aimée ; elle vous est rendue avec tous les trésors de la contemplation, dans le secret de la face de Dieu. Mais cette obscurité n’aura qu’un temps, et quand l’heure sera venue, la Croix que vous avez préférée à tout se dressera lumineuse à la porte de votre cellule, vous invitant à prendre part au triomphe pascal de celui qui est descendu du ciel pour nous apprendre que quiconque s’abaisse sera élevé. Votre nom, ô Célestin, brillera jusqu’au dernier jour du monde sur la liste des Pontifes romains ; vous êtes l’un des anneaux de cette chaîne qui rattache la sainte Église à Jésus son fondateur et son époux ; mais une plus grande gloire vous est réservée, celle de faire cortège à ce divin Christ ressuscité. La sainte Église, qui un moment s’est inclinée devant vous pendant que vous teniez les clefs de Pierre, vous rend depuis des siècles et vous rendra jusqu’au dernier jour l’hommage de son culte, parce qu’elle reconnaît en vous un des élus de Dieu, un des princes de la céleste cour. Et nous aussi, ô Célestin ! nous sommes appelés à monter là où vous êtes, à contempler éternellement comme vous le plus beau des enfants des hommes, le vainqueur de la mort et de l’enfer. Mais une seule voie peut nous y conduire : celle que vous avez vous-même suivie, la voie de l’humilité. Fortifiez en nous cette vertu, ô Célestin ! et allumez-en le désir dans nos cœurs. Substituez le mépris de nous-mêmes à l’estime que nous avons trop souvent le malheur d’en faire. Rendez-nous indifférents à toute gloire mondaine, fermes et joyeux dans les abaissements, afin qu’ayant « bu l’eau du torrent », comme notre Maître divin, nous puissions un jour, comme lui et avec vous, « relever notre tête [1] » et entourer éternellement le trône de notre commun libérateur.

[1] Psalm. CIX, 7.



Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Déjà avant ce saint moine, fils spirituel du patriarche saint Benoît, plusieurs autres papes, saint Pontien par exemple, saint Martin, Jean XVIII et Benoît IX, en des circonstances qui leur rendaient personnellement des plus difficiles le gouvernement de l’Église, avaient abdiqué le suprême pontificat. Au XIIIe siècle, ces cas avaient été presque oubliés, et les canonistes discutaient pour savoir si une telle renonciation fut jamais permise au pape. Célestin V, en une constitution solennelle, résolut la question dans le sens de la tradition romaine primitive, après quoi, invoquant en sa faveur un semblable droit, il déposa les vêtements pontificaux et retourna aux anciens exercices de sa vie monastique.

On l’accusait d’excessive simplicité dans les affaires, — de plenitudine simplicitatis plutôt que potestatis, — comme disaient avec malice ses adversaires ; et lui-même ne méconnaissait pas la vérité de cette imputation. Mais Dieu, et durant son pontificat, et surtout après son humble abdication, se plut à l’illustrer par une abondance de miracles. Quand, par ordre de Boniface VIII, Célestin fut conduit au château de Fumone qui devait lui servir de résidence, il opéra de très nombreuses guérisons durant le voyage ; il semblait que Dieu se plût à exalter la grandeur de son sénateur dans la mesure où le monde méconnaissait ses hauts mérites (+ 1296).

La messe [avant 1942] est du Commun des Confesseurs Pontifes : Statuit, comme le 4 février, avec la première collecte propre. L’Évangile est du Commun des Abbés, pour rappeler la renonciation de Célestin à la suprême dignité de l’Église, en vue de retourner à l’humilité du froc monastique si hautement glorifié par ses vertus.

Dans la Divine Comédie, Dante, emporté par sa haine de partisan, met dans l’enfer ... l’ombra di celui che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto.

L’Église, au contraire, loua l’humilité du pape Célestin et le proposa même à l’imitation des fidèles, car il est plus prudent et plus sûr de servir le Seigneur dans la simplicité du cœur, que d’ambitionner des places élevées et de graves responsabilités, auxquelles peut-être nos pauvres épaules ne sont ni préparées ni proportionnées.

Prière. — « O Dieu qui, ayant élevé au faîte du pontificat suprême le bienheureux Pierre Célestin, lui avez appris à préférer une vie humble ; faites que, méprisant à son exemple toutes les choses du monde, nous méritions d’arriver heureusement aux récompenses réservées aux humbles. Par notre Seigneur, etc. » Ne pas ambitionner les honneurs et les charges est certes l’indice d’une âme humble ; mais renoncer, comme saint Célestin, à la suprême Chaire pontificale, quand semblaient de plus en plus l’illustrer une éminente sainteté, la vénération des peuples, le don des miracles, c’est le signe d’une âme qui, habituellement absorbée dans la contemplation de Dieu, s’est solidement abîmée dans la connaissance de son néant. Toute la grandeur de la terre n’arrive pas à enorgueillir de telles âmes.


Anonyme. Les cardinaux viennent chercher saint Pierre-Célestin après son élection.

Église Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles. Thiais. Île-de-France. XVIIe.


Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

Saint Pierre. — Jour de mort : 19 mai 1296, Tombeau : à Aquila (Abruzzes), dans l’église de Sainte-Marie di Collemaggio. Image : On le représente en pape, avec une colombe ou bien avec un diable qui le trouble au moment où il écrit. Vie : Le pieux solitaire Pierre de Morone, fondateur de l’Ordre des Célestins, fut élu pape le 5 juillet 1294, après la mort de Nicolas V, dans un conclave qui avait duré plus de deux ans. Il prit le nom de Célestin V. L’élection de cet homme, qui était sans doute un saint, mais ne connaissait ni le monde ni les hommes, ne s’explique que par l’embarras où on se trouvait et aussi, semble-t-il, par les intrigues de Charles II, roi de Naples. Il apparut bientôt que le choix n’était pas heureux. Célestin sentit que ses épaules étaient trop faibles pour cette lourde charge. Il abdiqua (13 décembre 1294, cinq mois après l’élection) et il retourna à sa chère et simple vie monastique. Son successeur, Boniface VIII, craignant avec raison que ses adversaires ne se servent du saint pour créer un schisme, le fit garder étroitement et l’enferma dans le château de Fumone, près d’Anagni. Il y trouva une cellule semblable à celle qu’il avait dans son ermitage. Il passa ses dernières années, jusqu’à sa mort, dans une pénitence austère.

Pratique : « Avoir préféré à la plus haute dignité ecclésiastique la vie d’humilité », voilà l’événement principal dans la vie du saint que l’Église nous fait admirer dans l’oraison du jour et qu’elle nous demande d’imiter à notre manière. — La messe est du commun des Souverains Pontifes, sauf la première oraison, dont nous venons de donner la teneur.



Miniature. Le Pape Celestin V en prière.Vaticinia de Pontificibus. 1425-1450, 
285 x 195 mm, Florence. Harley 1340 f. 3.The British Library, Londres

Saint Célestin V (1294)

ou saint Pierre Célestin (Pietro Angeleri, dit del Morrone), né à Isernia en Italie vers 1215, mort au château de Fumone en Italie en 1296.

Il abdiqua après cinq mois de pontificat en 1294 et fut maintenu en résidence forcée jusqu’à sa mort par son successeur, Boniface VIII. Canonisé en 1313.


« On est dans l’étonnement de m’avoir vu quitter la papauté, et moi j’admire ma simplicité de l’avoir acceptée. »

• RÉSUMÉ :

Parmi tous les Pasteurs auxquels Jésus ressuscité confia la charge de Son Église, saint Pierre Célestin est celui qui manifeste le plus spécialement la vertu d’humilité dont saint Benoît, son Père en Dieu, fait la base de toute sainteté.

Né en 1221, il se retira, à peine adolescent, dans le désert, où bientôt ses vertus lui attirèrent des disciples. Ce fut l’origine de la branche de l’Ordre Bénédictin qui fut connue depuis sous le nom de Célestins, nom que prit saint Pierre lorsqu’il devint Pape.

Arraché en effet à l’âge de soixante-douze ans à sa douce solitude, il reçut la plénitude du sacerdoce, et occupa la chaire de saint Pierre, vacante depuis vingt-sept mois. Élevé à cette éminente dignité, il se crut incapable de porter un tel fardeau et « mettant l’humilité au-dessus de cette élévation », il descendit volontairement du trône pontifical.

Terminant ses jours dans la contemplation, dont son âme ne pouvait plus se passer, il mourut le 19 mai de l’an 1296.

À l’exemple de saint Pierre Célestin, méprisons les honneurs de ce monde, afin de parvenir heureusement à la possession des récompenses promises aux humbles.

Pierre, le onzième des douze enfants d’un pauvre fermier italien, naquit en 1221, Honoré III étant pape, Frédéric II empereur et Philippe-Auguste roi de France ; il reçut une éducation plus soignée que ses frères, grâce aux dispositions extraordinaires d’intelligence et de piété qu’il montra dès son bas âge.

Tout enfant, il racontait naïvement à sa mère les visites qu’il recevait des Anges et de la sainte Vierge. La mère, pour éprouver la réalité de ces visions, lui ordonna, par un temps de famine, d’aller couper du blé, à l’époque où il était encore vert ; Pierre y courut et rapporta du blé très beau et très mûr.

Jeune encore, il résolut de quitter le monde pour la solitude. Sa première retraite fut une forêt, où il demeura six jours dans un jeûne et une prière ininterrompus ; puis il gravit une montagne sauvage et se retira dans une caverne sombre comme un tombeau, sans autre lit que la terre, sans autre vêtement qu’un cilice. Pendant trois ans, malgré son jeûne quotidien, il fut assailli de toutes sortes de pensées de découragement, de sensualité, de volupté ; mais il était fortifié par les fréquentes visions des Anges.

Il consentit à recevoir le sacerdoce, afin de trouver dans l’Eucharistie un soutien contre les tentations. La sainteté du solitaire lui attira des disciples : ce fut l’origine de cette branche de l’Ordre de saint Benoît dont les religieux sont appelés Célestins. Ils vivaient sous des huttes faites avec des épines et des branches, mais Dieu réjouissait leur affreuse solitude par de suaves harmonies célestes et par la visite des bienheureux esprits. Bien plus austère que ses religieux, saint Pierre ne mangeait que du pain de son très noir et très dur, jeûnant quatre carêmes, ne prenant généralement que des herbes crues, une seule fois tous les trois jours.

Couvert d’instruments de pénitence, il couchait sur le fer plutôt que sur la terre : une voix céleste vint lui ordonner de diminuer cette pratique excessive de la mortification. Il opérait tant de merveilles, pour ainsi dire sans le vouloir, qu’il supplia Dieu d’avoir pitié de sa misère et de Se servir d’autres instruments.

Qui croirait qu’après une vacance inouïe du Saint-Siège pendant vingt-sept mois, le choix des cardinaux alla chercher le pauvre moine au fond de son désert ? Saint Pierre, âgé de soixante-douze ans, subit en pleurant la violence qui lui fut faite ; mais, quelques mois après, craignant les responsabilités, se jugeant au-dessous d’une charge si lourde, à laquelle, il est vrai, il n’était préparé que par sa sainteté, il abdiqua le souverain pontificat, reprit l’habit de moine et voulut retourner dans sa solitude. Le nouveau pape, Boniface VIII, redoutant bien à tort qu’à cette époque troublée des hommes de parti n’érigeassent saint Pierre en antipape, le fit prendre et garder étroitement dans une citadelle.

La mort de saint Pierre Célestin fut aussi sainte que sa vie ; elle arriva l’an 1296, Boniface VIII étant pape, Adolphe de Nassau empereur et Philippe IV le Bel roi de France.


Saint Célestin V

Pape (192 ème) en 1294 (✝ 1296)

Il y avait deux ans que durait le conclave qui devait élire un pape, mais les factions romaines et les cardinaux soumis à l'empereur germanique n'arrivaient pas à s'entendre sur un nom. Devant les menaces, ils élurent un saint vieillard qu'ils tirèrent de sa cellule monastique. Il arriva à Aquila monté sur un âne et comprit bien vite qu'il n'était pas fait pour cette charge. Au bout de six mois, il donna sa démission et fut enfermé par son successeur, Boniface VIII dans le château de Fumone à Agnani. Il y resta dix mois avant de mourir en disant "Je n'ai jamais eu de cellule où l'on put aussi bien prier."

Au château de Fumone, près d’Alatri dans le Latium, en 1296, la naissance au ciel de saint Pierre Célestin. Alors qu’il menait une vie d’ermite dans les Abruzzes, la renommée de sa simplicité et de ses miracles le firent élire comme pontife romain à l’âge de quatre-vingts ans. Il prit le nom de Célestin V, mais il abdiqua la même année, préférant revenir à sa solitude. Il termina sa vie, enfermé dans un château, entièrement isolé du monde.

Martyrologe romain


Pope St. Celestine V 

He was the eleventh of twelve children. His father died early, and his mother raised him with an influence towards a religious vocation. When his mother would ask, “Which one of you is going to become a saint?” little Peter would answer “Me, Mama! I’ll become a saint!”.

At age seventeen, he became a Benedictine monk at the monastery of Santa Maria di Faifoli, near Montagano, Italy. Here he began to persue a life of solitude. In 1240, he moved into a cave on Mt. Morrone, of which he received his surname.

At age 30, he moved to Mt. Majella with two other companions, where he began to apply to himself a life of strict mortification rules. He would fast for 6 days a week, long prayers, wear hair shirts and iron chains. Many would flock to him, that he founded the order of the Celestines, after himself. He continued his life here for the next 50 years and became well-known throughout most of Italy.

Following a two year conclave during which the cardinals could not decide on a pope, Peter came to them with the message that God was not pleased with the long delay; the cardinals chose Peter as Pope.

The primary objective of his pontificate was to reform clergy, many of whom were using spiritual power to obtain wordly power. Celestine sought a way to bring the faithful to the original Gospel spirit, and he settled on “Pardon” – he called for a year of forgiveness of sins, and return to evangelical austerity and fidelity.

He reigned a mere five months, and the members of the Vatican Curia took advantage of him. This led to much mismanagement, and great uproar in the Vatican. Knowing he was responsible, Celestine asked forgiveness for his mistakes, and abdicated on 13 December 1294, the only pope to do so.

His successor, Boniface VIII, kept Celestine hidden for the last ten months of his life in a small room in a Roman palace. Celestine may have appreciated it – he never lost his love of the hermit’s life, and spent his last days in prayer.


Pope St. Celestine V

(PIETRO DI MURRONE.)

Born 1215, in the Neapolitan province of Moline; elected at Perugia 5 July, 1294; consecrated and crowned atAquila, 29 August; abdicated at Naples, 13 Dec., 1294; died in the castle of Fumone, 19 May, 1296. He was ofhumble parentage, became a Benedictine at the age of seventeen, and was eventually ordained priest atRome. His love of solitude led him first into the wilderness of Monte Morone in the Abruzzi, whence his surname, and later into the wilder recesses of Mt. Majella. He took for his model the Baptist. His hair-clothwas roughened with knots; a chain of iron encompassed his emaciated frame; he fasted every day exceptSunday; each year he kept four Lents, passing three of them on bread and water; the entire day and a great part of the night he consecrated to prayer and labour. As generally happens in the case of saintly anchorites,Peter's desire for solitude was not destined to be gratified. Many kindred spirits gathered about him eager to imitate his rule of life, and before his death there were thirty- six monasteries, numbering 600 religious, bearing his papal name (Celestini). The order was approved, as a branch of the Benedictines, by Urban IV, in 1264. This congregation of (Benedictine) Celestines must not be confounded with other (Franciscan)Celestines, extreme Spirituals whom Pope Celestine permitted (1294) to live as hermits according to the Rule of St. Francis, but were pendent of the Franciscan superiors. In gratitude they called themselves after thepope (Pauperes eremitæ Domini Celestine), but were dissolved and dispersed (1302) by Boniface VIII, whoselegitimacy the Spirituals contested [Heimbucher, Orden und Kongregationen (2nd ed. Paderborn, 1907); I, 280; II, 360]. In 1284, Pietro, weary of the cares of government, appointed a certain Robert as his vicar and plunged again into the depths of the wilderness. It would be well if some Catholic scholar would devote sometime to a thorough investigation of his relations to the extreme spiritual party of that age; for though it iscertain that the pious hermit did not approve of the heretical tenets held by the leaders, it is equally true that the fanatics, during his life and after his death, made copious use of his name.


In July, 1294, his pious exercises were suddenly interrupted by a scene unparalleled in ecclesiastical history. Three eminent dignitaries, accompanied by an immense multitude of monks and laymen, ascended the mountain, announced that Pietro had been chosen pope by unanimous vote of the Sacred College and humblybegged him to accept the honour. Two years and three months had elapsed since the death of Nicholas IV (4 Apr., 1292) without much prospect that the conclave at Perugia would unite upon a candidate. Of the twelveCardinals who composed the Sacred College six were Romans, four Italians and two French. The factious spiritof Guelph and Ghibelline, which was then epidemic in Italy, divided the conclave, as well as the city of Rome, into two hostile parties of the Orsini and the Colonna, neither of which could outvote the other. A personal visit to Perugia, in the spring of 1294, of Charles II of Naples, who needed the papal authority in order to regain Sicily, only exasperated the affair, hot words being exchanged betrween the Angevin monarch and Cardinal Gaetani, at that time the intellectual leader of the Colonna, later, as Pope Boniface VIII, their bitter enemy. When the situation seemed hopeless, Cardinal Latino Orsini admonished the fathers that God hadrevealed to a saintly hermit that if the cardinals did not perform their duty within four months, He would visit the Church with severe chastisement. All knew that he referred to Pietro di Murrone. The proposition was seized upon by the exhausted conclave and the election was made unanimous. Pietro heard of his elevation with tears; but, after a brief prayer, obeyed what seemed the clear voice of God, commanding him to sacrificehis personal inclination on the altar of the public welfare. Flight was impossible, even if he contemplated it; for no sooner did the news of this extraordinary event spread abroad than multitudes (numbered at 200,000) flocked about him. His elevation was particularly welcome to the Spirituals, who saw in it the realization of current prophecies that the reign of the Holy Spirit ruling through the monks was at hand; and they proclaimed him the first legitimate pope since Constantine's donation of wealth and worldly power to "the first rich father" (Inferno, Canto XIX). King Charles of Naples, hearing of the election of his subject, hastened with his son Charles Martel, titular King of Hungary, ostensibly to present his homage to the new pope, in reality to take the simple old man into honourable custody. Had Charles known how to preserve moderation in exploiting hisgood luck, this windfall might have brought him incalculable benefits; as it was, he ruined everything by excessive greed.

In reply to the request of the cardinals, that he should come to Perugia to be crowned, Pietro, at the instigation of Charles, summoned the Sacred College to meet him at Aquila, a frontier town of the Kingdom of Naples. Reluctantly they came, and one by one, Gaetani being the last to appear. Seated on an humble ass, the rope held by two monarchs, the new pontiff proceeded to Aquila, and, although only three of the cardinalshad arrived, the king ordered him to be crowned, a ceremony which had to be repeated in traditional formsome days later, the only instance of a double papal coronation. Cardinal Latino was so grief-stricken at the course which affairs were evidently taking that he fell sick and died. Pietro took the name of Celestine V. Urged by the cardinals to cross over into the States of the Church, Celestine, again at the behest of the king, ordered the entire Curia to repair to Naples. It is wonderful how many serious mistakes the simple old man crowded into five short months. We have no full register of them, because his official acts were annulled by his successor. On the 18th of September he created twelve new cardinals, seven of whom were French, and the rest, with one possible exception, Neapolitans, thus paving the road to Avignon and the Great Schism. Ten days later he embittered the cardinals by renewing the rigorous law of Gregory X, regulating the conclave, which Adrian V had suspended. He is said to have appointed a young son of Charles to the important See ofLyons, but no trace of such appointment appears in Gams or Eubel. At Monte Cassino on his way to Naples, he strove to force the Celestine hermit-rule on the monks; they humoured him while he was with them. AtBenevento he created the bishop of the city a cardinal, without observing any of the traditional forms. Meanwhile he scattered privileges and offices with a lavish hand. Refusing no one, he was found to have granted the same place or benefice to three or four rival suitors; he also granted favours in blank. In consequence, the affairs of the Curia fell into extreme disorder. Arrived in Naples, he took up his abode in a single apartment of the Castel Nuovo, and on the approach of Advent had a little cell built on the model of his beloved hut in the Abruzzi. But he was ill at ease. Affairs of State took up time that ought to be devoted to exercises of piety. He feared that his soul was in danger. The thought of abdication seems to have occurred simultaneously to the pope and to his discontented cardinals, whom he rarely consulted.

That the idea originated with Cardinal Gaetani the latter vigorously denied, and maintained that he originally opposed it. But the serious canonical doubt arose: Can a pope resign? As he has no superior on earth, who is authorized to accept his resignation? The solution of the question was reserved to the trained canonist, Cardinal Gaetani, who, basing his conclusion on common sense and the Church's right to self-preservation, decided affirmatively.

It is interesting to notice how curtly, when he became Boniface VIII, he dispatches the delicate subject on which the validity of his claim to the papacy depended. In the "Liber Sextus" I, vii, 1, he issued the followingdecree: "Whereas some curious persons, arguing on things of no great expediency, and rashly seeking, against the teaching of the Apostle, to know more than it is meet to know, have seemed, with little forethought, to raise an anxious doubt, whether the Roman Pontiff, especially when he recognizes himself incapable of ruling the Universal Church and of bearing the burden of the Supreme Pontificate, can validly renounce the papacy, and its burden and honour: Pope Celestine V, Our predecessor, whilst still presiding over the government of the aforesaid Church, wishing to cut off all the matter for hesitation on the subject, having deliberated with his brethren, the Cardinals of the Roman Church, of whom We were one, with the concordant counsel and assent of Us and of them all, by Apostolic authority established and decreed, that the Roman Pontiff may freely resign. We, therefore, lest it should happen that in course of time this enactment should fall into oblivion, and the aforesaid doubt should revive the discussion, have placed it among other constitutions ad perpetuam rei memoriam by the advice of our brethren."

When the report spread that Celestine contemplated resigning, the excitement in Naples was intense. KingCharles, whose arbitrary course had brought things to this crisis, organized a determined opposition. A hugeprocession of the clergy and monks surrounded the castle, and with tears and prayers implored the pope to continue his rule. Celestine, whose mind was not yet clear on the subject, returned an evasive answer, whereupon the multitude chanted the Te Deum and withdrew. A week later (13 December) Celestine'sresolution was irrevocably fixed; summoning the cardinals on that day, he read the constitution mentioned byBoniface in the "Liber Sextus", announced his resignation, and proclaimed the cardinals free to proceed to a new election. After the lapse of the nine days enjoined by the legislation of Gregory X, the cardinals entered the conclave, and the next day Benedetto Gaetani was proclaimed Pope as Boniface VIII. After revoking many of the provisions made by Celestine, Boniface brought his predecessor, now in the dress of a humble hermit, with him on the road to Rome. He was forced to retain him in custody, lest an inimical use should be made of the simple old man. Celestine yearned for his cell in the Abruzzi, managed to effect his escape at San Germano, and to the great joy of his monks reappeared among them at Majella. Boniface ordered his arrest; but Celestine evaded his pursuers for several months by wandering through the woods and mountains. Finally, he attempted to cross the Adriatic to Greece; but, driven back by a tempest, and captured at the foot of Mt.Gargano, he was delivered into the hands of Boniface, who confined him closely in a narrow room in the tower of the castle of Fumone near Anagni (Analecta Bollandiana, 1897, XVI, 429-30). Here, after nine months passed in fasting and prayer, closely watched but attended by two of his own religious, though rudely treated by the guards, he ended his extraordinary career in his eighty-first year. That Boniface treated him harshly, and finally cruelly murdered him, is a calumny. Some years after his canonization by Clement V in 1313, his remains were transferred from Ferentino to the church of his order at Aquila, where they are still the object of great veneration. His feast is celebrated on 19 May.

Sources

Acta SS. May, IV, 419; Bibl. hagiogr. Latina, 979 seq.; Analecta Bollandiana (1897), XVI, 365-82 (the oldest life of Celestine); CELIDONIO, Vita di S. Pietro del Morrone, Celestino papa quinta, scritta su' documenti coevi (Sulmona, 1896); IDEM, La non-autenticita degli Opuscula Coelestina (ibid., 1896; these opuscula edited by TELERA, Naples, 1640, may have been dictated, but not composed by Celestine); ROVIGLIO, La rinuncia de Celestino V (Verona, 1894); AUTINORI, Celestino V ed il sesto anniversario della sua coronazione (Aquila, 1894); RAYNALDUS, Ann. eccl. ad ann. 1294-96; HEFELE, Conciliengeschichte, V; also the histories of the City of Rome by VON REUMONT and by GREGOROVIUS.

Loughlin, James. "Pope St. Celestine V." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 19 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03479b.htm>.


Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by WGKofron.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

St. Peter Celestine, Pope and Confessor

May 19

From his two most authentic lives in Papebroke, t. 4, Maij. p. 419; also Bzovius and other continuators of Baronius. See likewise his life written by James, cardinal of St. George, about the year 1295, in Muratori’s Scriptor. Ital. t. 3, p. 513

A.D. 1296.

HUMILITY raised this saint above the world, and preserved his soul free from its poison, both amidst its flatteries and under its frowns. He was born in Apulia about the year 1221. His parents were very virtuous and charitable to the poor to the uttermost of their abilities. After his father’s death, his mother, though she had eleven other sons, seeing his extraordinary inclination to piety, provided him with a literary education. His progress gave his friends great expectations; but he always considered that he had only one affair in this world, and that an affair of infinite importance, the salvation of his soul: that no security can be too great where an eternity is at stake: moreover, that the way to life is strait, the account which we are to give of all our actions and thoughts most rigorous, the judge infinitely just, and the issue either sovereign happiness or sovereign misery. He therefore made the means, by which he might best secure to himself that bliss for which alone he was created, his constant study. An eremitical state is only the vocation of souls, which are already perfect in the exercises of penance and contemplation. Peter had made the practice of both familiar to him from his tender years; and by a long noviceship was qualified for such a state, to which he found himself strongly inclined. Therefore at twenty years of age he left the schools, and retired to a solitary mountain, where he made himself a little cell under ground, but so small that he could scarcely stand or lie down in it. Here he lived three years in great austerities, during which he was often assailed by violent temptations; but these he overcame by the help of such practices and austerities as the grace of God suggested to him. Notwithstanding the care he took to sequester himself from the world, he was discovered, and some time after compelled to enter into holy orders. He was ordained priest at Rome; but in 1246 returned into Abruzzo, and lived five years in a cave on mount Morroni near Sulmona. He received great favours from heaven, the usual recompense of contemplative souls who have crucified their affections to this world: but then they are purchased through severe interior trials; and with such Peter was frequently visited. He was also molested with nocturnal illusions during his sleep, by which he was almost driven to despair, insomuch that he durst not say mass, and once determined to abandon his solitude; but was encouraged by the advice of a religious man, his confessor, who assured him that it was no more than a stratagem of the enemy, by which he could not be hurt if he despised it. For further satisfaction he determined to go to Rome to consult the pope on that subject, and received great comfort by a vision he was favoured with on the road; a certain holy abbot lately deceased appearing to him, who gave him the same counsel, and ordered him to return to his cell and offer every day the holy sacrifice, which he accordingly did. The wood on his mountain being cut down in 1251, he with two companions removed to Mount Magella. There, with the boughs of trees and thorns, these three servants of God made themselves a little inclosure and cells, in which they enjoyed more solid pleasure than the great ones of the world can find in their stately palaces and gardens. The devil sometimes endeavoured to disturb them; but they triumphed over his assaults. Many others were desirous to put themselves under his direction; but the saint alleged his incapacity to direct others. However, his humility was at length overcome, and he admitted those who seemed the most fervent.
Peter spent always the greater part of the night in prayer and tears, which he did not interrupt, whilst he was employed in the day in corporal labour or in copying books. His body he always treated as a most dangerous domestic enemy. He never ate flesh; he fasted every day except Sunday. He kept four lents in the year, during three of which, and on all Fridays, he took nothing but bread and water, unless it were a few cabbage leaves in lieu of bread. The bread which he used was so hard, that it could only be chopped in pieces. His austerities were excessive, till he was admonished in a vision not to destroy that body which his duty to God required him to support. If the Holy Ghost sometimes conducted the saints by extraordinary paths, we must learn from their fervour the condemnation of our sloth, who dare undertake nothing for the sake of virtue, and who shrink often under indispensable duties. St. Peter wore a shirt of horse-hair full of knots, and a chain of iron about his waist. He lay on the ground, or on a board, with a stone or log of wood for a pillow. It was his chiefest care always to nourish his soul with heavenly contemplation and prayer; yet he did not refuse to others the comfort of his spiritual succours. He gave advice, except on Wednesdays and Fridays, and during his lents, which he passed in inviolable silence. Finding his solitude too much disturbed, he went with some of his disciples to a cavern, which was almost inaccessible on the top of Mount Magella. This but increased the ardour of others to pursue him. Wherefore, he returned to Mount Morroni, where many lived in scattered cells under his direction, until he assembled them in a monastery; and in 1274 obtained of Pope Gregory X. the approbation of his religious Order, under the rule of St. Bennet, which he restored to its primitive severity. The saint lived to see thirty-six monasteries, and six hundred monks and nuns; and this institute has been since propagated over all Europe, but is at present much mitigated.
Upon the death of Nicholas IV. the see of Rome continued vacant two years and three months, when the cardinals assembled at Perugia unanimously chose our saint for his successor, out of pure regard to his eminent sanctity. This election, on account of its disinterestedness, met with a general applause, and the saint seemed the only person afflicted on the occasion. He was, indeed, alarmed beyond measure at the news; and finding all the reasons he could allege for his declining the charge ineffectual, betook himself to flight in company with Robert, one of his monks, but was intercepted. He would gladly have engaged Robert still to attend him, but the good monk excused himself by an answer worthy of a disciple of the saint: “Compel me not,” says he, “to throw myself upon your thorns. I am the companion of your flight, not of your exaltation.” Peter, thereupon, dropped his request, and sighing before God, returned to Morroni, where the kings of Hungary and Naples, besides many cardinals and princes, waited for him. Thence he proceeded to the neighbouring cathedral of Aquila, to be ordained bishop of Rome, being accompanied by the two kings, and an incredible number of princes and others; yet he could not be prevailed upon to travel any other way than riding on an ass: he even thought it a great deal that he did not go on foot, as he desired to do. He was consecrated and crowned at Aquila on the 29th of August, taking the name of Celestine V. from an allusion to the Latin name of heaven, where he always dwelt in his heart: his monks have been distinguished by the name of Celestines ever since. Charles, king of Naples persuaded him to go with him to his capital, to regulate certain ecclesiastical affairs of that kingdom, and to fill the vacant benefices. The new pope disgusted many of the cardinals by employing strangers in conducting matters, the care of which had been usually intrusted to them. He was sometimes led by others into mistakes, which gave occasion to complaints, and increased his own scruples for having taken upon him so great a charge, to which he found himself unequal; especially on account of his want of experience in the world, and his not having studied the canon law. He continued his former austerities, and built himself a cell of boards in the midst of his palace, where he lived in solitude amidst the crowds which surrounded him, humble on the pinnacle of honour, and poor in the midst of riches. He shut himself up to spend the Advent in retirement that he might prepare himself for Christmas, having committed the care of the church to three cardinals. This again was an occasion of fresh scruples, when he reflected that a pastor is bound himself to a personal attendance on the duties of his charge. These fears of conscience, the weight of his dignity, which he felt every day more and more insupportable, and the desire of enjoying himself in solitude, moved him at length to deliberate whether he might not resign his dignity. He consulted Cardinal Benedict Cajetan, a person the best skilled in the canon law, and others who agreed in their advice, that it was in the power of a pope to abdicate. When this became public, many vigorously opposed the motion; but no solicitations or motives could make the holy man alter his resolution. Wherefore, some days after he held at Naples a consistory of the cardinals, at which the King of Naples and many others were present: before them he read the solemn act of his abdication, then laid aside his pontifical robes and ornaments, put on his religious habit, came down from his throne, and cast himself at the feet of the assembly, begging pardon for his faults, and exhorting the cardinals to repair them in the best manner they were able, by choosing a worthy successor to St. Peter. Thus having sat in the chair four months he abdicated the supreme dignity in the church, on the 13th of December, 1294, with greater joy than the most ambitious man could mount the throne of the richest empire in the world. This the cheerfulness of his countenance evidenced, no less than his words. Cardinal Benedict Cajetan, the ablest civilian and canonist of his age, was chosen in his place, and crowned at Rome on the 16th of January following.
Men, as it usually happens on such occasions, were divided in their sentiments with regard to this extraordinary action, of which we see a specimen in the writings of those great men who in that age began to restore at Florence the true taste of polite literature. Dante, who has stained his reputation with many blots in his moral and civil conduct, and his works with many falsities and unjust prepossessions, ascribes this cession of Celestine to pusillanimity. But this base censure is justly chastised by his countryman Petrarch, who passed his unjust and glorious banishment at Vaucluse near Avignon, respected by the whole world, till he was courted by his fellow-citizens to honour his native country again with his presence, though he preferred to it a retirement at Padua. 1 This great man, speaking of the abdication of our holy pope, says: “This action I call a sublime and heavenly fortitude, which he only possesses who knows the emptiness of all worldly dignities. The contempt of honours arises from a heroic courage, not from a want of that virtue; as the desire of them shows that a soul raiseth not herself above herself.”
St. Celestine immediately stole away privately to his monastery of the Holy Ghost at Morroni. But several who were offended at some acts of justice and necessary severity in the new pope, raised various reports as if he had by ambition and fraud supplanted Celestine: others advanced that a pope could not resign his dignity. Boniface, moreover, was alarmed at the multitudes which resorted to Morroni to see Celestine, on account of the great reputation of his sanctity; and fearing he might be made a handle of by designing men, the consequence whereof might be some disturbance in the church, he entreated the king of Naples to send him to Rome. The saint seeing that he could not be permitted to return to his cell, betook himself to flight, and put to sea, with a view to cross the Adriatic gulf; but was driven back by contrary winds into the harbour of Vieste, where he was secured by the governor, pursuant to an order of the king of Naples, and conducted to Pope Boniface at Anagni. Boniface kept him some time in his own palace, often discoursing with him that he might discover if he had ever consented to those who called his abdication null and invalid. The saint’s unfeigned simplicity bearing evidence to the contrary, many advised the pope to set him at liberty, and send him to his monastery. But Boniface, alleging the danger of tumults and of a schism, confined him in the citadel of Fumone, nine miles from Anagni, under a guard of soldiers. The authors of the life of the saint say, that he there suffered many insults and hardships, which yet never drew from his mouth the least word of complaint. On the contrary, he sent word to Boniface, by two cardinals who came to see him, that he was content with his condition, and desired no other. He used to say with wonderful tranquillity, “I desired nothing in the world but a cell; and a cell they have given me.” He sang the divine praises, almost without interruption, with two of his monks who were assigned him for his companions. On Whit-Sunday, in 1296, after he had heard mass with extraordinary fervour, he told his guards that he should die before the end of the week. He immediately sickened of a fever, and received extreme unction. Even in that dying condition he would never suffer a little straw to be strewed on the hard boards on which he always lay, and prayed without interruption. On Saturday, the 19th of May, finishing the last psalm of lauds at those words, Let every spirit praise the Lord, he calmly closed his eyes to this world, and his soul passed to the company of the angels, he being seventy-five years old. During his ten months’ imprisonment he never abated anything of his ordinary austerities. Pope Boniface with all the cardinals performed his funeral obsequies at St. Peter’s. His body was sumptuously buried at Ferentino; but was afterwards translated to Aquila, and is kept in the church of the Celestines near that city. Many miracles are authentically recorded of him, and he was canonized by Clement V. in 1313. Boniface fell into great calamities. Philip the Fair, king of France, who was his declared enemy, sent a body of troops, under the command of William Noggret, to support the conspiracy of Stephen and Chiarra Colonna against him, by whom he was made prisoner at Anagni. After much ill treatment he was rescued out of their hands by the Ursini from Rome; but died soon after of grief in 1303.
A spirit of retirement or a love of holy solitude and its exercises, and an habitual interior recollection, are essential to piety and a true Christian life. Some, by a particular call of God, dedicate themselves to his service in a state of perfect solitude, in which the first motive may be self-defence or preservation. In the world snares are laid everywhere for us, and its lusts often endeavour to court and betray us, and the torrent of its example or the violence of its persecutions to drive and force us into death. Whoever, therefore, prudently fears that he is not a match for so potent an enemy, may, nay sometimes ought to retire from the world. This is not to decline the service of God or man, but sin and danger: it is not to prefer ease and security before industry and labour, but before a rash presumption and a fatal overthrow. But entire solitude is a safer state only to those who are animated with such a love and esteem for all its exercises as give an assurance of their constant fervour in them; also who seriously cultivate interior solitude of mind, and will never suffer it to gad abroad after the objects of worldly affairs, vanities and pleasures: lastly, whose souls are free from envy, emulation, ambition, desire of esteem, and all other busy and turbulent passions, which cannot fail by desires and hankerings to discompose the mind, and muddy the pure stream, and adulterate the relish of a retired life. The soul must be reduced to its native purity and simplicity, before it will be able to taste the blessings of true liberty, of regular devotion, and elevated meditation.
Secondly, An indication that God designs certain persons for retirement is the discovery of talents fitted for this state rather than for any public station; for these are active and contemplative gifts. Those who are destined by heaven to a retired life, in it become most eminently serviceable to the world by proving excellent examples of innocence, and the perfect spirit of every Christian virtue, and by their prayers and continual pure homages of praise and thanksgivings to God, from which others may reap far more valuable benefits than from the labours of the learned or the bountiful alms of the rich. Thus the world never loses a member, but enjoys its service in its proper place, and in the most effectual manner, says an ingenious Protestant writer; who adds, that such a one retires not from the world to avoid its service, but its fooleries.
Thirdly, The same author observes, that the main end of retirement ought always to be to dedicate ourselves entirely to God by the exercises of compunction and holy contemplation. This may be easily demonstrated from reason and religion, and from the examples of so many illustrious saints. Retirement is recommended by particular motives to persons who, after going through the station of a public life, are at liberty to embrace it in order to fit themselves for eternity.
Note 1. Dante died in 1321, at Ravenna, whither he was exiled upon account of his factious and turbulent spirit. In his poetry there are many beauties, but his indecencies shock us. Petrarch was also exiled, but unjustly, and died at Arcqua in 1374. His works in prose and verse render his name immortal. See on Dante and Petrarch, Specimen Historiæ Literariæ Florentinæ a Jannotia Manetto. Florentiæ, 1747, in 8vo. a work composed in the fifteenth age. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/5/191.html

San Celestino V - Pietro di Morrone Eremita e Papa


Isernia, 1215 - Rovva di Fumone, Frosinone, 19 maggio 1296

(Papa dal 29/08/1294 al 13/12/1294)

Pietro da Morrone, sacerdote, condusse vita eremitica. Diede vita all’Ordine dei “Fratelli dello Spirito Santo” (denominati poi “Celestini “), approvato da Urbano IV, e fondò vari eremi. Eletto papa quasi ottantenne, dopo due anni di conclave, prese il nome di Celestino V e, uomo santo e pio, si trovò di fronte ad interessi politici ed economici e a ingerenze anche di Carlo d’Angiò. Accortosi delle manovre legate alla sua persona, rinunziò alla carica, morendo poco dopo in isolamento coatto nel castello di Fumone.
Giudicato severamente da Dante come “ colui che per viltade fece il gran rifiuto “, oggi si parla di lui come di un uomo di straordinaria fede e forza d’animo, esempio eroico di umiltà e di buon senso.

Patronato: Isernia

Etimologia: Celestino = venuto dal cielo, dal latino

Martirologio Romano: A Fumone vicino ad Alatri nel Lazio, anniversario della morte di san Pietro Celestino, che, dopo aver praticato vita eremitica in Abruzzo, celebre per fama di santità e di miracoli, ottuagenario fu eletto Romano Pontefice, assumendo il nome di Celestino V, ma nello stesso anno abdicò dal suo incarico preferendo ritirarsi in solitudine.

Al secolo si chiamava Pietro Angeleri ed era nato verso il 1215 a Isernia (Campobasso) da modesti contadini, penultimo di dodici figli. Dalla madre, rimasta vedova, fu avviato agli studi ecclesiastici, ma siccome si sentiva attratto dalle austerità della vita monastica, a vent'anni Pietro si fece benedettino a Faifoli (Benevento), che lasciò dopo pochi anni per vivere da eremita in una grotta sul monte Palleno. Dopo tre anni fu ordinato sacerdote a Roma. Ritornò a condurre vita eremitica sul Monte Morrone, nei pressi di Sulmona, assetato di preghiera, di quotidiani digiuni e macerazioni.

Ben presto incominciarono ad accorrere a lui dei discepoli coi quali si stabilì sulla Maiella, attorno all'oratorio dello Spirito Santo, e costituì nel 1264, con l'approvazione di Urbano IV, gli Eremiti di San Damiano, detti poi Celestini, viventi secondo la regola benedettina interpretata con molta severità.
Quando venne a sapere che al Concilio di Lione (1274) si volevano limitare i nuovi ordini, vi si recò in persona. Giunse che il concilio era già finito, però fu ricevuto dal Beato Gregorio X che confermò la sua congregazione (1275) costringendo così i vescovi a restituire i beni di cui si erano già appropriati. Beneficati dal Cardinale Latino Malabranca OP. e da Carlo II, re di Napoli, i religiosi di Pietro Morrone moltiplicarono i monasteri e incorporarono abbazie in decadenza come quelle di Santa Maria di Faifoli e San Giovanni in Piano di cui il fondatore fu successivamente abate.

A motivo della grande attrattiva che sentiva per la solitudine, Pietro di Morrone si ritirò ancora una volta a vita eremita sulla Maiella (1284), lasciando ad altri la direzione di 36 monasteri popolati da circa 600 monaci e oblati. Visse nella sua cella fino a tredici mesi di seguito senza uscirne. Ogni anno faceva quattro quaresime. Riservava alla preghiera tutti i mercoledì e venerdì. Negli altri giorni riceveva i numerosi laici che andavano a consultarlo. Non contento di prodigare ai visitatori buoni consigli, organizzò per essi una pia associazione, con l'impegno di recitare ogni giorno un certo numero di Pater, amarsi vicendevolmente, evitare il peccato e visitare i poveri e i malati, per soccorrere i quali non esitò a far vendere i calici e gli ornamenti preziosi delle chiese del suo Ordine.
Alla morte di Niccolò IV (1292) la Santa Sede rimase vacante per ventisette mesi perché gli undici elettori erano divisi tra i due partiti dei Colonna e degli Orsini, e il re Carlo II di Napoli (+1309), figlio e successore di Carlo D'Angiò, fratello di S. Luigi IX, re di Francia, brigava perché fosse scelto un cardinale di suo gradimento. L'elezione di Pietro da Morrone, la cui storia sembra una leggenda, è la più strana che si ricordi. Nella primavera del 1294 il re di Napoli si era recato a Perugia e aveva parlamentato con i cardinali radunati in conclave. Di lì era passato a Sulmona ove concesse dei privilegi ai seguaci del Morrone il quale, poco dopo, scrisse una lettera al cardinale Latino in cui minacciava terribili castighi da parte di Dio se, entro quattro mesi, il sacro Collegio non avesse eletto il papa. Tutti avevano sentito parlare dell'eremita come di un taumaturgo, ma nessuno lo conosceva di vista. Convinti che fosse la persona più adatta a governare la Chiesa, su proposta del cardinal Latino gli diedero il voto.

Una commissione di prelati e di notai fu mandata sulle montagne della Maiella per chiedere al Morrone se voleva accettare. I legati trovarono in una spelonca un vecchio di oltre ottant'anni, pallido, emaciato dai digiuni, vestito di ruvido panno e calzato di pelli d'asino. Gli comunicarono l'elezione al papato, ma egli l'accettò soltanto perché pressato dai confratelli. La notizia dello straordinario avvenimento giunse alla corte di Carlo II, che si precipitò a Sulmona nell'intento di rendere l'eletto docile strumento dei suoi interessi. Contrariamente al parere dei cardinali, che lo invitarono a Perugia per sottrarlo alle suggestioni dell'Angioino, egli decise di fermarsi un po' di tempo all'Aquila ove, sull'esempio di Cristo, volle entrare seduto su di un asino, scortato da Carlo II e da suo figlio, che sorreggevano le briglie.

Davanti la chiesa dì Santa Maria di Collemaggio che Pietro aveva fatto costruire (1287), il 29-8-1294 ricevette in testa la tiara già di Innocenzo III, e il nome di Celestino V. Ben presto però si dileguarono le speranze riposte in lui, ignaro di latino, digiuno di scienze teologiche e giuridiche, privo di esperienza politica e diplomatica. Il pontefice, sordo ai consigli dei cardinali, s'impigliò ogni giorno più nelle reti che ambiziosi principi e astuti legulei gli tesero. Cominciò a dispensare favori spirituali senza discernimento, specialmente alle chiese del suo Ordine; pensò di mutare in Celestini gli altri monaci; cercò di obbligare i benedettini di monte Cassino a indossare la tonaca grìgia dei suoi religiosi; permise ai Francescani Spirituali di separarsi dagli altri sotto il nome di "Poveri Eremiti" non considerando in essi che l'austerità della vita. "Nella sua pericolosa semplicità" (L. Muratori) concesse al re di Napoli il prelievo di due decime sui beni della Chiesa francese e inglese perché potesse finanziare le sue spedizioni militari; la nomina di suo figlio Luigi, di ventun anni, all'arcivescovado di Lione; la nomina di dodici cardinali, di cui sette francesi, due napoletani, e nessuno romano.

In ottobre Celestino V decise di abbandonare l'Aquila, ma invece di prendere la via di Roma, contro il parere dei cardinali, si lasciò trascinare a Napoli dal re suo amico e protettore. I curiali durante i cinque mesi del suo pontificato approfittarono della sua inesperienza per trafficare e vendere grazie e privilegi, mentre i furbi ridevano dicendo che il papa comandava "nella pienezza della sua semplicità". Non volendo perdere nulla delle sue abitudini claustrali, in avvento, in un angolo del Castello Nuovo, Celestino V si fece costruire in legno una colletta in cui passare la quarantena in preparazione al Natale. Jacopone da Todi frattanto gl'indirizzava le sue frecciate poetiche: "Che farai, Pier di Morrone? - sei venuto al paragone. - Vedremo l'operato - che in cella hai contemplato. - Se il mondo è da te ingannato, - seguirà maleditione". Colpito dal disordine che s'infiltrava nella Chiesa a motivo della sua incapacità amministrativa, Celestino V si rese conto di non essere all'altezza del suo compito, motivo per cui si sentiva gemere, in preda ai rimorsi: "Dio mio, mentre regno sulle anime, ecco che perdo la mia".

Consultò allora esperti canonisti, tra cui Benedetto Gaetani, e tutti gli risposero che il papa poteva abdicare per sufficienti motivi. Appena i napoletani ebbero sentore che un papa così buono e così facile a lasciarsi ingannare stava per abbandonarli, invasero Castel Nuovo. Celestino V riuscì a calmarli a stento con vaghe promesse e l'autorizzazione di fare preghiere e processioni per chiedere a Dio più luce. Dopo aver preparato con il Gaetani l'atto di rinuncia al potere pontificale e una costituzione che riconosceva al pontefice la facoltà di dimettersi, il giorno di S. Lucia convocò il concistoro, ordinò ai presenti di non interromperlo, poi con voce alta e ferma lesse la sua rinuncia libera e spontanea al potere delle somme chiavi "per causa di umiltà, di perfetta vita e preservazione di coscienza, per debolezza di salute e difetto di scienza, per ricuperare la pace e la consolazione dell'antico vivere'". Fra le lacrime degli astanti depose le insegne papali per rivestirsi del suo vecchio saio. Bene ha scritto E. Casti in occasione del VI centenario dell'incoronazione di Celestino V; "L'abdicazione di lui non fu ne una viltà, ne un atto di eroismo; fu il semplice compimento dello stretto dovere che incombe a chiunque ha assunto un ufficio sproporzionato alle proprie forze. Il dovere morale di restare al suo posto non poteva obbligare perché in contrasto con l'interesse più imperioso del bene comune".

Il 24 dicembre fu eletto papa il cardinal Gaetani col nome di Bonifacio VIII.
Uno dei suoi primi atti fu di annullare tutti i favori accordati dal suo predecessore il quale bramava far ritorno al suo eremo, mentre il papa voleva che lo seguisse in Campania per impedire eventuali scismi o ribellioni.

Di mala voglia egli si mise in cammino con l'abate di Monte Cassino. Giunto a San Germano approfittò della sosta per farsi dare un cavallo e fuggire a Monte Morrone, dove per due mesi rimase nascosto alle ricerche dei messi papali. Tentò in seguito la fuga in Grecia, ma una tempesta lo sospinse sul litorale di Vieste. Tradotto nel castello di Fumone vi morì il 19-5-1296 cantando salmi. Clemente V lo canonizzò nel 1313. Le sue reliquie sono venerate a L'Aquila, nella chiesa di Santa Maria di Collemaggio.

Autore:
Guido Pettinati


Voir aussi : http://fr.gloria.tv/?media=290761