Celestine V., Peter

, Pope, and the only one of his name who seems to deserve much notice, was born in Apulia about the year 1221, and lived as a hermit in a little cell. He was admitted into holy orders; but after that, he lived five years in a cave on mount Morroni near Sulmona, where he founded a monastery in 1274. The see of Rome having been vacant two years and three months, Celestine was unanimoifsly chosen pope on account of the fame of his sanctity. The archbishop of Lyons, presenting him with the instrument of his election, conjured him to submit to the vocation. Peter, in astonishment, prostrated himself on the ground: and after he had continued in prayer for a considerable time, consented to his election, and' took the name of Celestine V. Since the days of the fir* Gregory, no pope had ever assumed the pontifical dignity with more purity of intention. But he had not Gregory’s talents for business and government; apd the Roman see was far more corrupt in the thirteenth than it was in the sixth century. Celestine soon became sensible of his incapacity. He attempted to reform abuses, to retrench the luxury of the clergy, to do, in short, what he found totally impracticable. He committed mistakes, and | exposed himself to ridicule. His conscience, in the mean time, was kept on the rack through a variety of scruples, from which he could not extricate himself; and from his ignorance of the world and of canon law, he began to think he had done wrong in accepting the office. He spent much of his time in retirement; nor was he easy there, because his conscience told him, that he ought to be discharging the pastoral office. In this dilemma he consulted cardinal Cajetan, who told him he might abdicate, which he accordingly did in 1294, after having endeavoured to support the rank of pope for only four or five months, and before his abdication made a constitution that the pontiff might be allowed to abdicate, if he pleased; but there has been no example since of any pope taking the benefit of this constitution. Cajetan succeeded him under the title of Boniface VIII. and immediately imprisoned him in the castle of Fumone, lest he should revoke his resignation, although nothing was more improbable, and treated him with such harshness as brought him to his grave, after ten months imprisonment, in 1296. Clement V. canonized him in 1313. Several of his “Opuscula” are in the Bibl. Patrum. The order of the Celestins, which takes its name from him, still subsists. 1


Milner’s Church Hist vol. IV. p. 36.—Dupin.—Bower’s Lives of the Popes. —Platina.—Moreri.