Pope Benedict: Obsessed with Celestine V??
(07-03-2010, 06:50 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: Why did Boniface imprison him?  ???

this is from a site devoted to all the pope's histories.  the article seems to have been written by a european [the way the dates are written indicates that] and someone whose english is imperfect but it's not hard to figure out the meaning despite the occasional error.  it includes several photos and a detail of a painting of Celestine V's coronation; when you click the thumbnail of the painting, you see the entire image but in b/w, which is disappointing.  the photos enlarge more satisfactorily.


i added bolding regarding Boniface's motivation and Celestine's imprisonment and death, statements which may be open to debate.  no doubt historians have studied these events and there are references available but finding them online may be impossible unless you have a better search engine than the free ones.

"The 80 year old Celestine V abdicated on 13 Dec, 1294. Confronted with his affairs by the Franciscan poet, Jacopone da Todi, Celestine sought initially to hand over parts of his authority to 3 different cardinals, but this was rejected. His request to abdicate were initially rejected as well; however, cardinal Benedetto Gaetano, seeking for himself the pontifacy, convinced the other cardinals that this unprecedented request was indeed legal.

Castle of Fumone
Cardinal Benedetto immediately locked Celestine into a prison in the castle of Fumone, lest he should become the tool schismatics. Most probably Benedetto didn't want the abdication to be declared illegal, and his own ascension to pope as well. Hearing of the news, King Charles II along with a host of supporters, surrounded the prison and begged Celestine to reconsider. Nine days later, the resignation was declared irreversable, and the cardinals entered the conclave to elect a successor. The next day, Cardinal Benedetto Caetano was proclaimed Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303). Boniface would cancel most of the decrees of Celestine. He would also waste no time enriching himself and his family.

With aid from his supporters, Celestine escaped prison, but continued to be persued by Boniface for nine months. Eventually he was captured and returned to prison where he died ten months later on 19 May 1296. Many scholars believe he was murdered there by Boniface VIII. His skull was found with a nail-sized hole in it. He was buried near the castle, but his bones were later moved to the church of Aquila, where they remain venerated today. He was canonised a saint by Pope Clement V (1305-1314) in 1313. His feast is celebrated on 19 May.

here is the enlarged photo of Celestine's skull, showing the hole made by a nail or other sharp object:



"Several Italian dailies quoted the Rev. Quirino Salomone on Wednesday as saying a CT scan performed on Celestine's mummified remains 10 years ago showed a half-inch hole in the left temple."

according to an article at


A. Baker says charges that Boniface killed Celestine or had him killed are calumny, which is what the Catholic Encyclopedia says.  But the CE was published in 1913 and if the remains are mummified, it's entirely possible that the hole in the flesh no longer is visible and the hole in the skull was not visible without a CT scan, which was not yet invented in 1913.  It certainly seems that he was killed, unless it can be proven that the wound was postmortem.  Whether it can ever be determined "whodunnit" is another matter altogether.  I haven't read all of the second article because you have to join the site first and i don't have the time right now.  I doubt it has any more details as to "whodunnit" or that would have been mentioned in the first paragraphs but I'll check it out later.


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Re: Pope Benedict: Obsessed with Celestine V?? - by Historian - 07-04-2010, 02:59 PM

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