Peter was born in 1210 in Isernia in the Abruzzi, Italy, the eleventh of twelve children of peasant parents. At the age of 20, he became a hermit on Monte Morrone in the Abruzzi hills. He left his hermitage to study for the priesthood and was consecrated in Rome and later became a Benedictine monk. In 1251 he was permitted to return to his hermit’s life in the mountains, but his holiness eventually enticed great crowds. Striving further solitude, he retired with two friends to Monte Majella, but was persuaded to return to Monte Morrone where he organized the monks into a community and eventually a convent with a strict principle. In 1274, he received papal approved by his ordering, which he called the Celestines.
Peter would have been happy to spend the rest of his life with his religious community in the mountains, but an extraordinary occurrence took place in the history of the Church, and his relatively harmonious living was obstructed, never to be the same again. After the death of Pope Nicholas IV, more than two years surpassed with the papacy remaining unused because of political struggle in the school of cardinals. Peter, 84 years old at this time, reputedly communicated the cardinals a theme telling them that God was not pleased with the wait and that they must elect a successor soon or the rage of God would be upon them. To his repugnance, the cardinals immediately decided upon the elderly hermit himself.
Despite grave distrusts, Peter, deciding that it must be God’s will, accepted and was venerated Bishop of Rome in August of 1294, taking the name of Celestine. The ensues were terrible because Peter was completely unfit for the bureau of pope in every respect except for his holiness. He immediately fell prey to the intrigues of King Charles II of Naples who took advantage of Peter’s simplicity, otherworldliness, and naivete. He perpetrated many serious blunders in his short time in office; we do not have detailed records of all of his misconceptions because his official behaves were annulled by his successor.
Heartbroken and devastated by the burden of the role he had not searched and was incapable of filling, Peter abdicated his office in December 1294. He had been pope for less than five months.
Boniface VIII was immediately elected as pope. Because he feared that the vogue of his predecessor might pass some plotters to attempt to introduced Peter back on the papal throne and stimulate a further split in the Church, he required Peter to be confined to the castle of Fumone. St. Peter is said to have declared,” I craved good-for-nothing in the world but a cadre, and a cell they have given me .”
After nine months of fasting and devotion, closely watched by patrols but to be present at two of his own religious, he was dead at the age of 86.
1. Some consider Peter Celestine the most feeble figure in the history of the papacy, but we should look at his failure as pope as yet another proof of Jesus’ promise to Peter concerning the Church:” The entrances of inferno will never prevail against it .” No trouble how fallible or incapable a pope may be, Christ will ever protect His bride, the Church.
2. Peter may have failed as a pope, but he certainly cannot be faulted for his love of God and the Church. When the cardinals elected him pope, he was known to have wept at the report, but after petition felt that this was indeed a entitle from God to leave behind the ascetic parish he had spent his life building and encouraging. How many of us would be willing to give up our seemingly proved lifetimes to take over a what appears to be an absurd inconvenience? Let us pray to St. Peter Celestine for the goodnes to do as our Blessed Mother Mary notifies:” Do whatever He say to you .”
Other Saints We Remember Today
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image: Niccolo di Tommaso, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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