Popes in a Year
#167 - Blessed Pope Eugene III
Pope from February 15, 1145 - July 8, 1153
Lived: c. 1089 - July 8, 1153
Birth name: Bernard Pignatelli
Give me the scoop on Eugene III.
Blessed Pope Eugene III, born in Pisa as Bernard Pignatelli in the late 1080s, first served in the cathedral at Pisa as a young man, but eventually entered the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux, where he studied under the great St. Bernard. He was called to Rome by Innocent II to serve as Abbot of the St. Anastasius Monastery in 1140, and served there until his February 15, 1145 election. Due to the salty situation in Rome -- where a crazy mob sought to reestablish the old Roman government and boot the pope from his temporal duties -- Eugene was elected in secret the very day of Lucius II’s death, and immediately was forced to flee to Viterbo. Despite a strong, pro-pope resistance that had emerged in Rome, Eugene spent little time in the Eternal City during his tenure.
Eugene III was a profoundly meek and humble man who was committed to clerical reform throughout his papacy. St. Antoninus said of Eugene that he was, “One of the greatest and most afflicted of the popes.” His holiness was well-known in death, and he was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1872. Eugene died July 8, 1153 and is a patron of both the Cistercians and the Abbey of Sts. Vincent and Anastasius, where he once served.
What was he known for?
Eugene is known primarily for his calling of the Second Crusade in December 1145. The whole affair reads like a bad soap opera, though little blame falls on Eugene. When Edessa fell to the Turks, the pope called on King Louis of France to go on crusade and aid the persecuted Christians there, since King Conrad of Germany was protecting the Church’s property against the Normans in southern Italy.
But St. Bernard, full of “somewhat misguided zeal” as one author puts it, thought the crusade needed both Louis
Conrad, so he persuaded both to go, leaving Eugene defenseless at home. Smooth move. Add that to Conrad and Louis’ bickering, a new revolt in Rome, and both kings trying to get King Roger of Sicily to help them politically, and the effort proved to be an abject failure.
One of Eugene’s acts as pope was his approval of the works of
St. Hildegard of Bingen
, who was living and working as a Benedictine abbess in Germany during his pontificate. Hildegard was renowned for her music, writing, mysticism, and devotion to the natural sciences. She has been venerated as a saint for centuries, and was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 1147, the Russian city of Moscow was first mentioned in written records.
Coming tomorrow...Pope Anastasius IV
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 Blessed Eugene III -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, August 15 at 2:00AM