Popes in a Year
#163 - Pope Honorius II
Pope from December 21, 1124 - February 13, 1130
Lived: February 9, 1060 - February 13, 1130
Birth name: Lamberto Scannabecchi
Give me the scoop on Honorius II.
Honorius II was Italian and of relatively humble birth. His mind, though, was nevertheless a steel trap, so he rose quickly through the Church’s ranks. Honorius was first called to Rome by Pope Paschal II in 1117, and then proceeded to faithfully serve his two successors, accompanying Gelasius II when he was exiled, then helping take on Henry V for Callistus II. Lamberto Scannabecchi, as he was known then, was elected pope (with a little drama) just two days after Callistus’ death, taking the name “Honorius II.” In a rather ugly throwback to yesteryear, two factions among Rome’s cardinals put up rival candidates. Honorius ultimately won out because the secular backing behind him was stronger, though there’s no evidence to show he sought the papacy for himself or approved of the disputes.
In his short, five-year term Honorius worked to resolve a number of church abuses and disputes in England, Denmark, and Scotland, in addition to helping the temporarily troubled abbeys at Cluny and Monte Cassino (where their abbots were out to doctrinal lunch). Honorius II died just four days after his 70th birthday, on February 13, 1130.
What was he known for?
Pope Honorius II was perhaps best known for playing diplomat and earning some much-needed imperial peace for the Church. When Emperor Henry V died six months into Honorius’ reign, the pope, not one to waste an opportunity, immediately sent legates to Germany to find a king who wouldn’t be as much of a thorn in their side. The legates found their man in Lothair, Count of Supplinburg, who was gracious and loyal in service to the Church and the papacy. The one small snag, a rival claimant to the throne, proved to be no match for Honorius.
In 1128, Pope Honorius officially recognized a new religious order of nine French noblemen known as the Knights Templar. In fact, it was Doctor of the Church St. Bernard of Clairvaux who championed the order’s approval and wrote up their first set of rules. Along with vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the order’s mission was to aid Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land and defend the conquests of the Crusades from Muslim invaders. Contrary to the unfavorable and shady picture painted of them in mainstream culture (
*cough*Da Vinci Code*cough*
), in their prime the Knights were worthy soldiers who protected the Church’s spiritual and physical patrimony well.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
Edgar the Aetheling, the last male member of the Anglo-Saxon royal house (England’s original royal family) and once-proclaimed King of England, died in 1126 at the age of 75. He was never actually crowned king, but did much during an unusually long life, including lead the English navy in Syria during the First Crusade.
Coming tomorrow...Pope Innocent 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 Honorius II -
- Pope Honorius II -
- The Sad History of the Knights Templar -
- Edgar the Aetheling -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Wednesday, August 9 at 2:00AM