CELESTINE (Caelestinus), the name of five popes.
Celestine I., pope from 422 to 432. At his accession the dissensions caused by the faction of Eulalius (see Boniface I.) had not yet abated. He, however, triumphed over them, and his episcopate was peaceful. When the doctrines of Nestorius were denounced to him, he instructed Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, to follow up the matter. The emperor Theodosius II. convoked an ecumenical council at Ephesus, to which Celestine sent his legates. He had some difficulties with the bishops in Africa on the question of appeals to Rome, and with the bishops of Provence with regard to the doctrines of St Augustine. To expedite the extirpation of Pelagianism, he sent to Britain a deacon called Palladius, at whose instigation St Germanus of Auxerre crossed the English Channel, as delegate of the pope and bishops of Gaul, to inculcate orthodox principles upon the clergy of Britain. He also commissioned Palladius to preach the gospel in Ireland which was beginning to rally to Christianity. Celestine was the first pope who is known to have taken a direct interest in the churches of Britain and Ireland. (L. D.*)
Celestine II., pope in 1143–1144. Guido of Città di Castello (Tiferno), born of noble Tuscan family, able and learned, studied under Abelard and became a cardinal priest. Elected the successor of Innocent II. on the 26th of September 1143, he died on the 8th of March following. He removed the interdict which Innocent had employed against Louis VII. of France. At the time of his death he was on the verge of a controversy with Roger of Sicily.
See A. Certini, Vita (Foligno, 1716); M. Bouquet, Recueil des historiens des Gaules (Paris, 1738 ff.), tome 15, 408-411; Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus, 179, 765-820; P. Jaffé, Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, 2nd ed. vol. ii. (Lipsiae, 1888), 1 ff.; Wetzer und Welte, Kirchenlexikon, 2nd ed. vol. iii. (Freiburg, 1884), 578 ff.; Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie, 3rd ed. vol. iv. (Leipzig, 1898), 201.
Celestine III. (Giacinto Bobo), pope from 1191 to 1198, was cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin as early as 1144, and had reached the age of eighty-five when chosen on the 30th of March 1191 to succeed Clement III. The first pope of the house of the Orsini, his policy was marked by mildness and indecision. Henry VI. of Germany at once forced the pontiff to crown him emperor, and three or four years later took possession of the Norman kingdom of Sicily; he refused tribute and the oath of allegiance, and even appointed bishops subject to his own jurisdiction; moreover, he gave his brother in fief the estates which had belonged to the countess Matilda of Tuscany. Celestine did not dare so much as to threaten him with excommunication. It was Celestine’s purpose to lay England under the interdict; but Prince John and the barons still refused to recognize the papal legate, the bishop of Ely. Richard I. had been set free before the dilatory pope put Leopold of Austria under the ban. In his last sickness Celestine wished to resign his office, but the cardinals protested. Death released him from his perplexities on the 8th of January 1198.
See “Epistolae Coelestini III. Papae,” in M. Bouquet, Receuil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, tome 19 (Paris, 1738 ff.); J. P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus, tome 206 (Paris, 1855), 867 ff.; further sources in Neues Archiv für die ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde, 2. 218; 11. 398 f.; 12.411-414; P. Jaffé, Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, vol. ii. (2nd ed.. Leipzig, 1888), 577 ff. (W. W. R.*)
Celestine IV. (Godfrey Castiglione), pope in 1241, son of a sister of Urban III. (1185–1187), was archpriest and chancellor at Milan. After Urban’s death he entered the Cistercian monastery at Hautecombe in Savoy. In 1227 Gregory IX. created him cardinal priest of St Mark’s, and in 1233 made him cardinal bishop of Sabina. Elected to succeed Gregory on the 25th of October 1241, he died on the 10th of November, before consecration, and was buried in St Peter’s.
See A. Potthast, Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, vol. i. (Berlin, 1874), 940 f.
Celestine V. (St Peter Celestine), pope in 1294, was born of poor parents at Isernia about 1215, and early entered the Benedictine order. Living as a hermit on Monte Morrone near Sulmone in the Abruzzi, he attracted other ascetics about him and organized them into a congregation of the Benedictines which was later called the Celestines (q.v.). The assistance of a vicar enabled him to escape from the growing administrative cares and devote himself solely to asceticism, apparently the only field of human activity in which he excelled. His Opuscula, published by Telera at Naples in 1640, are probably not genuine; he was indoctus libris. A fight between the Colonna and the Orsini, as well as hopeless dissensions among the cardinals, prevented a papal election for two years and three months after the death of Nicholas IV. Charles II. of Naples, needing a pope in order that he might regain Sicily, brought about a conclave. As the election of any cardinal seemed impossible, on the 5th of July 1294 the Sacred College united on Pietro di Morrone; the cardinals expected to rule in the name of the celebrated but incapable ascetic. Apocalyptic notions then current doubtless aided his election, for Joachim of Floris and his school looked to monasticism to furnish deliverance to the church and to the world. Multitudes came to Celestine’s coronation at Aquila, and he began his reign the idol of visionaries, of extremists and of the populace. But the pope was in the power of Charles II. of Naples, and became his tool against Aragon. The king’s son Louis, a layman of twenty-one, was made archbishop of Lyons. The cardinals, scarcely consulted at all, were discontented. The pope, who wanted more time for his devotions, offered to leave three cardinals in charge of affairs; but his proposition was rejected. He then wished to abdicate, and at length Benedetto Gaetano, destined to succeed him as Boniface VIII., removed all scruples against this unheard-of procedure by finding a precedent in the case of Clement I. Celestine abdicated on the 13th of December 1294. There is no sufficient ground for finding an allusion to this act in the noted line of Dante, “Che fece per viltate il gran rifiuto” (“who made from cowardice the great refusal,” Inferno, 3, 60). Boniface at length put him in prison for safe keeping; he died in a monastic cell in the castle of Fumone near Anagni on the 19th of May 1296. He was canonized by Clement V. in 1313.
See Wetzer und Welte and Herzog-Hauck (with excellent bibliography) as above; Jean Aurélien, Supérieur de la Congrégation des Célestins, La Vie admirable de . . . Saint Pierre Célestin (Bar-le-Duc, 1873); H. Finke, Aus den Tagen Bonifaz VIII. (Münster, 1902), pp. 24-43. (W. W. R.*)