May 19

St. Celestine V

St. Celestine V

St. Celestine, a hermit, was one of the popes of the Catholic church.His papacy, however, was amongst the briefest ones the church hasrecorded as it lasted for only about 5 months.

This is a brief biography on the life of St. Celestine and his briefstay in the papacy.

Early Life of St. Celestine

St. Celestine was born in the year 1215 to Angelo Angelerio and MariaLeone in Sant’Angelo, Limosano in the Kingdom of Sicilia (Sicily). Hewas the sixth child of the eleven children his parents had. He was namedPeter Angelerio. At the early age of 17, he joined the Benedictine orderand was quite devoted.

Stories have it that his mother wanted one of her children to become asaint, and she would regularly ask which one would become a saint. Thiswas amongst the many things that got the young Peter interested in thepursuit of a holy life.

Priestly Life of St. Celestine V

The young Peter, having developed an interest in living a holy life,joined the Benedictine order at the very young age of 17. He would laterbecome a hermit at the age of 20 and was found to spend his time prayingand reading the Holy Book.

Whenever he wasn’t praying or studying the bible, he would be foundcopying books or doing other complex tasks. This was to ensure that hismind was not idle and did not become the devil’s workshop, as the sayinggoes.

Due to his straightforward and pious lifestyle and his great devotion, alot of hermits always came to him seeking his guidance on their missionto become better hermits. This led him to start another order, a branchof the Benedictine order, known as the Celestine order.

He eventually became the Superior General of that order and committedhimself even more to prayer and contemplation of the scripture after theformation of the monasteries. He later handed the order over to acertain Robert, as vicar to enable him to concentrate more in the lifeof solitude, prayer, and scriptures.

The Papacy of St. Celestine V

Peter was in his 80s when he became a pope in the catholic church. Hisjourney to the papacy was a very unusual one, however. It came aboutwhen after two years, the cardinals had been unable to decide on whom tochoose as the next See of the church after the passing of Nicholas IV.

Sending them a message, Peter had advised them to decide as soon aspossible as God was not pleased with the overlong delay. When themessage was received by the school of cardinals, they quickly decided onPeter becoming the Pope.

Upon hearing that he had been chosen as the new Pope, Peter was notpleased. He wept but sorrowfully accepted the position and chose thename Clement V. A name no other pope has taken since his resignation anddemise.

Being extremely simple and humble and having difficulty refusing people,the people around him took advantage of him. Due to such situations,great confusion arose in the matters of the church.

Understanding the state of confusion was due to his inability to governstrictly and authoritatively, he voluntarily gave up the papal seat on13th December 1294, a week after issuing the decree allowing the Popethe right to abdicate.

Works of St. Celestine V

Due to his short stay on the Papal seat, and the fact that hissuccessor, Boniface VIII nullified most of his works after succeedinghim, not many records of his works are available.

Recorded amongst his works are the founding of the Celestine Order in1244, the reinstitution of the Conclave System of Papal ordinationsinstituted by Gregory X, and the Confirmation of the Right of the Popeto abdicate.

Death and Canonization of St. Celestine

Upon his resignation from the papal seat, St. Celestine sought to returnto his life as a hermit, but this was not granted to him by hissuccessor, Boniface VIII. This was because he feared that St. Celestinewould be ordained as the antipope.

On two occasions, he tried albeit unsuccessfully, to escape fromBoniface. He was imprisoned in a cell in the castle of Fumone, Lazioregion where he met his death on 19th May 1296.

He was canonized by Clement the V on 5th May 1313. His remains were someyears after his canonization from Ferrentino, to the church of his orderat Aquila. His feast is celebrated on 19th May.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Celestine V

  1. His mother inspired in him the zeal for saintly life as she was fond
    of asking which one of them would become a saint.
  2. St. Celestine V stated that he would become a saint in response to
    his mother’s regular question to him and his siblings.
  3. He was the 192nd Pope of the catholic church and had one of the
    shortest stays in the papacy
  4. He was simple and humble and had difficulty saying “no” to people.
  5. St. Celestine V is the Patron saint of bookbinders, papal
    resignations, and Aquila.

Prayer to St. Celestine V

St. Celestine, you were pope for only five months, for in that shortamount of time it was apparent that although you were very holy, youwere not a natural leader, as you could not say no to anyone. You wentagain to the cardinals and begged that the position be taken away fromyou. They were deeply impressed by your humility. They chose a new pope,who decided to keep you in a cell so that no one could take advantage ofyou and make you into an anti-pope. In this prison you lived out therest of your days in prayer.St. Celestine, you were not the slightest ambitious for clerical power.Please pray that we may grow in humility as you did and not yearn forworldly honors. St. Celestine, you realized you were incapable ofgoverning the people through the duties of a pope and resigned. The nextpope to resign of his own accord was our Benedict XVI. Please pray forall our popes, for you know how terribly burdensome and stressful thisposition is. We thank you for your gentle intercession.Amen.