Pope Celestine IV (died November 10, 1241 in Rome), born Goffredo da Castiglione, was pope from October 25, 1241 to November 10, 1241.
Born in Milan, Goffredo or Godfrey is often referred to as son of a sister of Pope Urban III (1185–87), but this information is without foundation. His early life is unknown until he became chancellor of the church of Milan (perhaps as early as 1219, certainly in 1223–27). Pope Gregory IX (1227–41) made him a cardinal September 18, 1227 , with the cure of San Marco, and in 1228–29 sent him as legate in Lombardy and Tuscany, where the cities and communes had generally remained true to the Hohenstaufen emperor, Frederick II, in an attempt to bring them around to the curial side, without success (Lex. der Mittelalters). In 1238 he was made cardinal bishop of Sabina (Pallavicini Bagliani 1972).
The papal election of 1241 that elected him was held under stringent conditions that hastened his death. The papal curia was disunited over the violent struggle to bring the Emperor and King of Sicily Frederick II, to heel. One group of cardinals favored the ambitious schemes of the Gregorian Reform, and aimed to humble Frederick II as a papal vassal. Frederick II however controlled as his unwilling guests in Tivoli two cardinals whom he had captured at sea, and in Rome Cardinal Giovanni Colonna was his ally, largely because the curia were in the hands of the Colonna archenemy, the senator Matteo Rosso Orsini, who held the consistory immured under his guards in the ramshackle palace of the Septizodium, where rains leaked through the roof of their chamber, mingled with the urine of Orsini's guards on the rooftiles (Abulafia 1988, p 350). One of the cardinals fell ill and died.
One group, which included Sinibaldo de' Fieschi (soon to be Pope Innocent IV) backed a candidate from the inner circle of Pope Gregory IX expected to pursue the hard line with Frederick II. Another group advocated a moderated middle course, not allies of the Hohenstaufen, but keen to reach an end to the Italian war. Overtures to Frederick II, however, were met with the impossible demand, that if they wished the cardinals in his hands to return to Rome, they must elect as Pope one of them, Otto of St. Nicholas, an amenable compromise figure. Matteo Orsini's candidate was also unacceptable, Romano da Porto, who had persecuted scholars at the University of Paris and had conducted himself in unseemly fashion in the presence of the Queen Mother.
The cardinal bishop of Sabina was finally elected Pope Celestine IV by seven cardinals only, on October 25, 1241. He occupied the throne for only seventeen days, his only notable papal act being the timely excommunication of Matteo Orsini, and died, before consecration, of wear and age, on November 10, 1241, and was buried in St Peter's.
- Wendy J. Reardon,The Deaths of the Popes
- Robert Abulafia, 1988. Frederick II: a Medieval Emperor (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
- Lexikon der Mittelalters, vol. iii, part 7 (On-line).
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