Popes in a Year
#177 - Pope Honorius III
Pope from July 18, 1216 - March 18, 1227
Lived: c. 1150 - March 18, 1227
Birth name: Cencius Savelli
Who was this guy before he was pope?
Cencius Savelli, a native Roman, served primarily as the Roman Church’s vice-chancellor and later as the papal treasurer under both Clement III and Celestine III. Pope Innocent III ordained Cencius a priest and elevated him to cardinal, assigning him to the Church of Ss. John & Paul in 1200.
Give me the scoop on Honorius III.
Two days after Innocent’s death, Honorius III was elected in Perugia, albeit as a compromise pick more than anything. Though papal elections were at times anything but sensible, the cardinals, led by Honorius’ eventual successor, smartly opted for the quick pick of the kindly Honorius. The Romans, in particular, were stoked by the choice. Who doesn’t like a hometown boy?
Honorius was content to follow the many reforms of Innocent, but did contribute several letters in 1226 to a massive revision of canon law eight years later. He arranged the Fifth Crusade, binding himself and all of the cardinals to commit 10 percent and the clergy five percent of their respective incomes solely to fund the effort. That crusade didn’t bear much fruit, but his order to snuff out the Albingensian heresy in France did end up succeeding. Honorius was a big believer in clergy needing to be well-educated, going so far as to reject some bishops’ elections if they lacked proper training. Honorius III died in Rome on March 18, 1227 and was buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
What was he known for?
Pope Honorius III spent most of his nearly eleven years in office trying to keep track of Emperor Frederick II’s word-breaking antics. The young ruler had promised tons of stuff to Pope Innocent III, the man who practically raised him, but conveniently retracted them all over the course of Honorius’ papacy. Having ordered the emperor to prepare for the next crusade, Honorius received dodgy answers from Frederick every time. It turned out Frederick cared for little more than conquering all of Italy for himself, and no progress was made between pope and emperor before Honorius’ 1227 death. Apparently, Fred slept through the “respecting elders” part of emperor school.
A big fan of religious life, Honorius followed the lead of Innocent and confirmed the Dominican Order in 1216 and the Franciscans in 1223. He also said “Honori-YES” to the relatively new Carmelite Order’s Rule of St. Albert in 1226. The pope also gave St. Dominic and his brothers their first permanent home, at Santa Sabina in Rome.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In famed Chartres Cathedral in France, which had been destroyed by a fire in 1194, was finally rebuilt in the year 1220. It
still stands today
as one of the most magnificent examples of gothic architecture the world has ever seen.
Coming tomorrow...Pope Gregory IX
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 III -
Pope Honorius III -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 2:00AM