Popes in a Year
#180 - Pope Innocent IV
Pope from June 25, 1243 - December 7, 1254
Lived: c.1195 - December 7, 1254
Birth name: Sinisbaldo de Fieschi
Who was this guy before he was pope?
Born in Genoa around the year 1195, Sinisbaldo de Fieschi was well-educated as a young man and, like many of his recent papal compatriots, taught canon law at Bologna for some time. In 1227, Pope Gregory IX called Sinisbaldo and said, “Hey. I’ve got a red hat for you,” assigning him to the Church of St. Lawrence in Lucina. Soon afterward, he served as vice chancellor of the Roman Church, as well. In 1235, he was elevated to cardinal-bishop and assigned to Albenga in northern Italy, where he served until his election.
Give me the scoop on Innocent IV.
After fleeing Rome following nasty election conditions and Pope Celestine’s quick death, the cardinals picked Innocent IV, consecrating him pope on June 25, 1243. Thing was, it took them over a year and a half to do it. Innocent was pope for over nine years, and accomplished much while in the Chair of Peter. He approved the rule of St. Clare of Assisi’s order, the Poor Clares, in 1253. He also canonized a stable of solid saints, among them St. Stanislaus, patron of Poland, and St. Margaret of Scotland, queen and wife of King Malcolm III. Innocent was also a staunch believer that the title “Vicar of Christ” ranked him above earthly kings and princes, so he dabbled quite a bit in the flexing of political muscles around Europe, as well. Innocent IV died in Naples on December 7, 1254.
What was he known for?
Pope Innocent IV was a friend of Emperor Frederick II at one time, but after his election? No mas. Fully two-thirds of Innocent’s papacy was spent dealing with an emperor who had become an entire bramble bush in the side of the Church, and Innocent appeared to be fine going to any lengths to stop Frederick. When Innocent called a general council -- the Church’s 13th -- in Lyon, France, Frederick appeared willing to submit and recognize his own excommunication. But his effort to block Italian bishops from reaching the council spoke a little louder.
Innocent’s council had five main goals: addressing sins of the clergy, the loss of the Christian Holy Land, the problems facing the Church in Constantinople, a new Mongol invasion, and (most of all) Frederick’s reckless persecution of the Church. On the last charge, Innocent hardly had to call a vote to get every attending bishop’s approval to, as one author put it, “[declare] the emperor deprived by God of all his honors and dignities, and excommunicated and deposed from the Empire.” Oh, is that all?
Read more about the First Council of Lyon
(time between popes) before Innocent’s election, though quite lengthy, wasn’t even the longest in the 13th Century. Heck, it turns out his barely cracks the
of the largest pope gaps in Church history. The pre-Innocent-IV election interval of 592 days is the seventh-longest in history, two days behind the one that preceded Severinus in 638 and eight longer than the one prior to Leo II’s election in 681.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
The majestic Gothic French church known as
was built in Paris in 1246. A true treasure of human achievement, it boasts one of the largest collections of stained glass from that century anywhere in the world.
Coming Monday...Pope Alexander 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 Innocent IV -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Friday, September 1 at 2:00AM