Popes in a Year
#162 - Pope Callistus II
Pope from February 1, 1119 - December 13, 1124
Lived: c. 1065 - December 13, 1124
Birth name: Guy of Burgundy
Give me the scoop on Callistus II.
A French noble by birth, Pope Callistus II served as the Archbishop of Vienne for over thirty years before being chosen as the next successor of Peter. Guy, as he was then known, was also a key papal representative of Pope Paschal II, having done crucial work for the Holy Father in his home country during his time as archbishop. After having to be elected in Cluny on February 1, 1119, Callistus was finally able to enter Rome in 1120 and drive out Antipope Gregory VIII, the poser Henry V liked. He only reigned for five years and some months, but his impact on the Church lasted much longer. Callistus died December 13, 1124 and was buried in the Lateran Basilica.
What was he known for?
Pope Callistus II was best known for bringing a pretty workable end to the Investiture Controversy -- the fight between church and state over who could appoint bishops -- which directly led to nearly three decades of relative peace between the emperor and the Church. It took three years, two councils, and one excommunicated emperor before Callistus was finally able to forge an agreement, known as the Concordat of Worms (say it with a “v”), that was suitable to both sides.
The Church, under the new agreement, was the only party who could invest a man with spiritual authority, while the state could choose to bestow temporal power if the ruler so chose. In addition, Callistus allowed for the emperor to play tiebreaker when there were appointment disputes, but only after he received input from the province’s other bishops. Callistus then proceeded to convene and preside over the First Lateran Council in 1123, wishing to further solidify the Church’s position on investiture and a number other issues.
One of Callistus’ landmark acts as pope was a papal bull entitled
(“As the Jews”), which set out the Church’s official position on how Christians should treat their “elder brothers in faith,” to
St. John Paul II. During the First Crusade, over 5,000 Jews had been killed, so Callistus wanted to echo Pope St. Gregory the Great and set down once and for all that Jews had the right to “enjoy their lawful liberty.” Christians were forbidden, on pain of excommunication, to forcibly convert, harm, or take property from the Jewish people, nor were they allowed to interrupt Jewish celebrations or mess with their cemeteries. The bull was a popular one, because Callistus’ work was formally endorsed by no less than 18 pontiffs over the next 300 years.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 1123, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital was founded in London. Though it’s most definitely been rebuilt a few times, it’s still in operation today on its original site. Fans of Sherlock Holmes may recognize “Barts” as the location of Holmes and Watson’s initial meeting in the 1887 novel
A Study in Scarlet
, or as a setting in two scenes from BBC’s drama
Coming tomorrow...Pope Honorius II
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Guruge, A. (2010). The Next Pope. New Hampshire: WOWNH
Pope Callistus II -
Pope Callixtus II -
St. Bartholomew’s Hospital -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, August 8 at 2:00AM