Now the significance of Pope Benedict placing his pallium on the tomb of Pope Celestine is clear – Scott Hahn

Scott Hahn has written in interesting observation about Pope Benedict’s pilgrimage to the tomb of Pope Celestine V, in 2009 and the relics of Pope Celestine in 2010, the last pope to abdicate in the 13th century

‘Back on April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI did something rather striking, but which went largely unnoticed.

He stopped off in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb!

Fifteen months later, on July 4, 2010, Benedict went out of his way again, this time to visit and pray in the cathedral of Sulmona, near Rome, before the relics of this same saint, Celestine V.

Few people, however, noticed at the time.

Only now, we may be gaining a better understanding of what it meant. These actions were probably more than pious acts. More likely, they were profound and symbolic gestures of a very personal nature, which conveyed a message that a Pope can hardly deliver any other way.

In the year 1294, this man (Fr. Pietro Angelerio), known by all as a devout and holy priest, was elected Pope, somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected Pope in 2005). Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right. And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this venerable model.’

10 comments to Now the significance of Pope Benedict placing his pallium on the tomb of Pope Celestine is clear – Scott Hahn

  • comte de Frebonius

    Nick, such sad news, but a brave decision.May all faitful catholics double their prayers this lent for the guidence from the Holy Spirit. But what is most annoying is the speculation from the media, which reduces the choosing of a successor to Peter as nothing more than an outside nag at the 4:30 at Doncaster!! It shows their stupidity and indeed that in reality, they couldn’t give a figg who is chosen, except that he is the one that brings in gay “marriage” contraception and the rest. It is amazing that how quick they are to get the usual suspects out, such as Lavinia Byrne and Michale Walsh, who destruct, rather than construct anything useful about the Papacy. May Our Lady protect him and may She with all of the might of heaven guide the electors next month. Viva Papa!

  • angela

    yes Scott , I think it is significant. Pietro, known as celestine was a very holy hermit.I have actually been to his cave above Sulmona in Abbruzzo , and to his tomb , which contains his displayed body in the Collemaggio in L’Aquila.
    The story is that he didn’t want to be pope at all, but was almost shanghied and sent into Rome ‘riding a white ass’. He was so horrified by the corruption and chaos he found , and felt so incapbable of doing anything about it that he abdicated.. and went back to his hermitage.

  • Denis

    We can be sure he was guided in his decision by God’s will.
    Pope Benedict has put the Church back on the right path and has achieved an amazing amount in a short space of time. The fury of secular opposition to him is an indication of just how effective his actions have been. Reading some of the staggeringly obscene comments made about the Pope on “social media” gives a frightening insight into the world that these feckless individuals would create, but for the actions of the Church led by this wonderful Pope. We know God will select the right man to carry on his work.

  • Robin Leslie

    How very interesting. I shall be disappointed that such a wonderful intellect will not be
    there, let’s hope the next Pope sees off the motley bunch of detractors.

  • Not for advert, but I will quote Jon M. Sweeney’s Prologue, in “The Pope Who Quit. A true medieval tale of mystery, death and salvation”:
    “Pope Benedict XVI has recently aligned himself with the memory and legacy of this hermit pope (Pietro a Morrone) from the medieval Catholic past. On April 29, 2009, whene Pope Benedict visited Celestine’s tomb in the aftermath of the earthquake that struc L’Aquila earlier in the month he did more than say a simple prayer and pay his respects at the Italian saint’s shrine. Without explanation the pope paused for several minutes, removed pallium from around his shoulders, and laid it gently on Celestine’s glass-encased tomb” (page 6).

  • Lola

    Deacon Nick

    This link below has nothing to do with the Holy Father but, it might interest you to watch the Committee proceedings with regards Marriage Same Sex Couples Bill which +Abp Peter Smith and counsels for the Catholic Church attended and gave evidence.

    Kindest regards
    God bless

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Paddy Power has Cardinal Ouellet as favourite at 4/1 but he has an interesting outsider – Richard Dawkins at 666 to 1.

  • Dominic MacCarthy

    Typo: pallium – in the title. You have it correct in para.3

    Maybe because the precedent of Pope Celestine V – see Wiki extract below – was rather unhappy, subsequent Popes have been very reluctant to retire and risk dissension within the Church. Let’s hope Benedict
    doesn’t end up imprisoned by his successor!

    “Realizing his lack of authority, he [Celestine V] consulted with Cardinal Benedetto Caetani (his eventual successor) about the possibility of resignation.[4] This resulted in one final decree declaring the right of resignation, which he promptly exercised after five months and eight days in office. In the formal instrument of renunciation, he recited as the causes moving him to the step: “The desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquility of his former life”.[5] Having divested himself of every outward symbol of papal dignity, he retired to his old solitude.

    [edit] Retirement, death, and canonization
    The former Celestine, Pietro Angelerio, was not allowed to remain in solitude. Various parties had opposed his resignation and the new Pope Boniface VIII had reason to worry that one of them might install him as an antipope. To prevent this he ordered Pietro brought to Rome. Pietro escaped, however, and hid out in the woods before returning to Sulmona to resume monastic life. This proved impossible and Pietro was captured after an attempt to flee to Dalmatia. Boniface imprisoned him in the castle of Fumone near Ferentino in Campagna, where Pietro died after 10 months. His supporters spread the allegation that Boniface had treated him harshly and ultimately executed Pietro . [6] Pietro was buried at Ferentino, but his body was subsequently removed to the Basilica Santa Maria di Collemaggio in Aquila.

  • I do remember reading on the Catholic Herald’s web site about the 2010 visit, shortly before his visit to Britain. Somebody left a comment saying they hoped the Pope wasn’t getting at any idea. We now see that he obviously was. I’m impressed though that much like our Lord, he thought about leaving signs here and there which would only take their full significance some years later. Great man!

    We will miss you Papa. And whatever they call you afterwards, you will always be Pope Benedict for us.

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