Popes in a Year
#164 - Pope Innocent II
Pope from February 14, 1130 - September 24, 1143
Died: September 24, 1143
Birth name: Gregory Papareschi
Give me the scoop on Innocent II.
Pope Innocent II was born Gregory Papareschi, a member of an ancient Roman family. Early on in his career, Innocent served at the Lateran Palace, then as Abbot of the monastery of Sts. Nicholas and Primitivus. Pope Paschal II made him a cardinal in 1112. Innocent was elected in secret, by an appointed group of eight cardinals, the morning after Honorius’ death, in an effort to avoid another disputed election. Though Innocent became the rightful pope, Murphy’s Law still ruled. Despite their best efforts, an antipope, Anacletus II, would split the Church and rival Innocent for nearly eight years.
Pope Innocent II, temporarily exiled from Rome as a result of Anacletus’ presence, beat the pavement to gain the approval of France, England, and Germany as the legitimate successor of Peter. Both St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Norbert of Magdeburg were in the Pope Innocent Fan Club, as was Lothair, whom Innocent crowned King of France in 1131. As pope, he held many smaller synods and meetings, in addition to writing letters, performing ordinations, and restoring churches. Normal pope stuff. He died September 24, 1143 after 13.5 years in office.
What was he known for?
Innocent II is best known for convening and presiding over the Church’s 10th general council, the
Second Lateran Council
. The death of Anacletus II, the pope’s arch-nemesis, in 1138 was the impetus for Innocent’s decision, since eight years of an antipope had done considerable damage to Church unity. The council, held at the Lateran Palace in April of 1139, saw close to 1000 bishops from all over the world in attendance.
Aside from helping to mend the schism of the last almost-decade, some of the canons decreed by the council included:
A ban on jousting (fights to the death, basically)
A note advising bishops and clergy to keep their garb from being unnecessarily extravagant
Excommunication for folks who refuse to tithe
A firm “what part of 'no' don't you understand?” to clergy and religious who wanted to keep concubines or get married
Though it’s more of a “fun fiction,” the story of St. Malachy’s papal prophecies is said to have begun during Pope Innocent II’s tenure. Malachy, an Irish bishop and legitimate saint, reportedly transcribed a vision he received, penning it in the form of 112 papal mottoes meant to describe the next 112 popes. There were only 112 because the last one -- Pope Francis, if it were true -- would lead the Church into the end times (dun dun DUN).
Here’s the problem - though it was supposedly shown to Innocent II, who then stowed it away in the papal archives, literally no one heard of the thing for the next 500 years until it was “found” around the year 1590. Historians are pretty darn sure it’s a fake, since almost every pope before 1590 was correctly “predicted” and almost none after 1590 were.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 1135, a devastating fire in London severely damages both London Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Coming Tomorrow...Pope Celestine 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 Innocent II -
- Pope Innocent II -
- Second Lateran Council -
- How reliable is the St. Malachy prophecy? -
- 1130s in England -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Thursday, August 10 at 2:00AM