celestine v


December 13th 1294: Pope Celestine V resigns

On this day in 1294, Pope Celestine V resigned the papacy. Born Pietro Da Morrone in 1215, he was a Benedictine monk until he left that life to become a hermit, living in the Abruzzi mountains. Morrone attracted a following who admired his humble way of life, and he became the leader of a group of hermits called the Celestines. In 1294, when he was nearly eighty, Morrone was elected pope, and reluctantly accepted the role, taking the name of Celestine. The new pope was unprepared for his new position, and only accepted the role for the stability of the church, which had been without a pope for two years as the cardinals had failed to unite behind a candidate. Celestine V struggled with the practical duties of the papacy, and split with the cardinals. After only five months in office, Celestine V resigned to return to his life of asceticism. However, the new pope - Boniface VIII - refused to allow the former pope to return to his old life, choosing to keep Celestine under supervision. Celestine was captured and held at Fumone Castle, remaining there until his death in 1296. Pope Celestine V was canonised in May 1313.

the pope rap

so my wife (who was raised catholic) likes it when I get drunk and talk about popes. this is because 1) I am a delightful drunk and 2) i know a confusing amount about the history of the catholic church (especially considering that I am Jewish) and so since I am very tired, which is a bit like being drunk, I will share with you some of my favorite popes. with apologies to all devout catholics in the audience, what are you doing here, turn away now, abandon all hope ye who enter:

Pope Nope: Otherwise known as Pope Celestine V. Pope Nope was the founder of the Celestine Order. Pope Nope lived as a hermit in quiet seclusion and modesty.  Pope Nope absolutely did not want to be Pope.  After sending an angry letter to the Church saying they should pick a Pope ASAP (they’d been hedging on it for like two years), the Church said, ‘This is it. This is the guy.’ Pope Nope promptly tried to flee the country.  The Church sent people to physically drag him to Rome. One of his first edicts was to declare that the Pope was allowed to abdicate.  Surprisingly, he abdicated five months later.

Pope Douchebag:  Pope Boniface VIII.  Came on after Pope Nope. Declared first Catholic Party Times (jubilee) in Rome in 1300 (in an attempt to revitalize Rome in general, and yanno raise money, an ongoing theme in this story). This should’ve made him kinda cool, except he pissed of the King of France and the poet Dante Alighieri, who he sort of let get kicked out of Florence. This resulted in Dante Alighieri writing one of the most beautifully elaborate revenge fics in Western literature.  Now, Nope Douchebag (as a modern Dante would surely have called him)  wasn’t dead when The Divine Comedy was published, but Dante made sure that in Inferno, the chapter related to hell and all the lovely punishments waiting there, to have a character point to a flaming hole in the ground and say “AND THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE GOING, POPE DOUCHEBAG. THIS HOLE. IT WAS MADE FOR YOU,” so there’s that.

Pope Evil: Pope Alexander VI aka the Borgia Pope aka that guy you get into a slapfight with in Assassin’s Creed 2.  Alleged crimes include extreme amounts of nepotism, murder, rape, bribery, etc, etc.  He probably wasn’t actually necessarily as evil as everyone always says (most of the incest and murder stories were told by his political enemies) but bribery and nepotism was sort of just what you DID when you were Pope back in the day. He probably did not look like Jeremy Irons. He did, however, paint really tacky images of his favorite mistress all over the papal bed chambers which led to…

Pope Badass I:  aka Pope Julius II deciding ‘screw this I am NOT sleeping in a former Borgia love nest’ and so he decided to commission the building of Saint Peter’s Basilica aka one of the the biggest loudest holiest of holy ‘oh father in heaven how will we even do this?’ pieces of catholic architecture in the world.  Pope Badass did not believe in doing things half way. Pope Badass wanted to be remembered. He commissioned an assortment of remarkable artists at the time.  Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, like, a ton of ninja turtles. In the mean time, he also did little things like decide to retake the Papal states, the territory around the city of Rome, which the Church had lost over the last few centuries. How did he decide to do this? By ordering all the cardinals to suit up, get their armor on, go on a road trip, they were going to war.  If a local government didn’t do what he wanted fast enough? He excommunicated the whole city.  Pope Badass didn’t do anything half way.  He originally commissioned Michelangelo to build his future funeral tomb, but forever annoyed the grumpy artist because he kept pulling him away to work on new little side projects



the Sistine Chapel.


Party Pope: Pope Leo X, Medici Pope – yeah, from those Medici. Party Pope was not about to let being a member of the Catholic Church stop him from living the high life of Florentine nobility. Party Pope believed in huge banquets for all his friends and selling lots of indulgences to pay off that big basilica Pope Badass decided to build. Party Pope held a big banquet in which gold plates were thrown in the river. Party Pope had an actual real live pet elephant with red shoes. Party Pope kept conveniently putting off the letters written by a fellow by the name of Martin Luther, who kept writing him to be “uh, hey Party Pope, maybe you are partying a bit too hard, maybe you should like, cut down on that a little….” Party Pope did not stop partying.

Look, we’re not saying the Protestant Reformation was kind of his fault.


The Protestant Reformation was kind of his fault.

Pope Buzzkill: Pope Adrian VI. German. Didn’t change his name upon accepting the papacy. Arrived in the massive Roman hangover left by Party Pope. Decided “okay, yes, Catholics, we are partying too hard, let’s do something about that” and proceeded to try and pass a number of very strict laws and measures to try and curb the partying ways of the Church at that time. He was deeply unpopular for this. Because COME ON, Pope Buzzkill, it’s the RENAISSANCE.

He was so unpopular that, after his death, the Catholic Church did not elect another non-Italian Pope for some 500 years. Pope John Paul II. Yeah. As in the guy who was Pope 20 years ago.

They really didn’t like Pope Buzzkill.



France and The Holy Roman Empire are at war right now?

wait, why is Charles V coming over the scenic Italian countryside with all those really angry men

Yes, ladies and gentleman, through a general inability to manage the conflicting pressures from France and and the Holy Roman Empire, Pope Weenie wound up preciding 1527 over the Sack of Rome, in which the Holy Roman Emperor parked his expansive army in that big half constructed basilica that Pope Badass had decided to start building way back when.

Oh, and Pope Weenie didn’t grant Henry VIII that anullment he wanted. We’re not saying that the formation of the Anglican church was his fault. But it was kinda his fault.

Pope Badass II: Common lore says Pope Badass II aka Sixtus V got his start as an illiterate swineheard born to a peasant family in the Papal States. He rose his way up through the ranks through guile, beautiful oratory skills, and a will of iron. Pope Badass II was aware that as Pope, he did not have long on this earth, and he would get shit DONE.  When he looked at that unfinished basilica that Pope Badass I had started, Party Pope had sold indulgences to fund, and Pope Weenie had let troops run through, he said “You know what this needs? A finished dome.” He asked his architect how long this would take.

“Five years,” said his architect, trying to be optimistic. It would really take more like ten years, given all the work that still needed to go into and–

“Great,” said Pope Badass II, “Do it in two.”


Pope Badass II also is amazing for his response to the sinking of the Spanish Armada, in which Queen Elizabeth managed to blow up a ton of ships belonging to Spain, which was at that time only, you know, the most powerful catholic nation in Europe. Was Pope Badass II pissed at this defeat against protestant forces? Who knows, but HE ALSO SEEMED TO THINK THIS WAS THE FUNNIEST THING HE’D EVER HEARD AND PRETTY MUCH WENT AHAHAHA THIS WOMAN WHO OWNS HALF AN ISLAND JUST TOTALLY WIPED THE FLOOR WITH THE SPANISH THAT IS AMAZNG HE WOULD TOTALLY MARRY QUEEN ELIZABETH IF HE WEREN’T POPE.

“Imagine what progeny we would have!” <— pretty much the quote. yes, ladies and gentleman, this is the VICAR OF CHRIST declaring that he would totally do Queen Elizabeth I.

Sadly, Pope Badass I also did some things that were not so badass. He was responsible for a lot of the Catholic Church’s harsher stances on birth control and abortion, of which we still see many the effects of today, so perhaps this puts maybe a bit of a damper on the true badassery he could have otherwise attained.

But one cannot deny he had excellent taste in ladies.

And also he got them to finish that dang dome.

And that’s my Pope Rap. Please feel free to add to it if you are a giant nerd like me and have collected random trivia about medieval and renaissance artists and political figures.  Perhaps, now that I have written this, my wife will no longer have to hear me talk about this every time I have like, half an appletini.

Perhaps. Perhaps.

But probably not.


i. Want It Back//Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra ii. Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie//Belle & Sebastian iii. Secret Spell//Tori Amos iv. Celestine//Spector v. Hanging On The Telephone//Blondie vi. There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis//Kirsty MacColl vii. Kiss With A Fist//Florence + The Machine viii. Rebel Rebel//David Bowie ix. That’s Alright//Lloyd Cole x. The Break//Sylvana Joyce & The Moment



Unified Italy is a relatively new concept and Italy is a relatively new country, but regional divisions in the 20th century mean that Molise is one of the youngest regions in a young country. It is located just above the “ankle” of Italy’s boot. Its coastline on the Adriatic is slightly north of the spur in northern Puglia that juts out into the sea. While the title of smallest Italian region lies further north in the Aosta Valley, Molise is a close second. Geography ranges from mountain peaks inland down to hills closer to the sea. Famous people from here include 13th century Pope Celestine V, politician Antonio Di Pietro, and singer-songwriter Fred Bongusto. Tourism hasn’t historically been a big part of Molise’s economy, although that’s starting to change a bit in parts of the region. The mountains of inland Molise are great for outdoors enthusiasts – particularly so in the summer for mountain hikes. Summer also brings people to the Adriatic coast, and although there are arguably nicer beaches elsewhere in the country, the beaches of Molise are far less popular (and therefore less crowded). The small towns and villages of Molise allow visitors to get away from the crowds and relax. Many don’t have major “sights”, and some suffered quite a bit of damage in a 2002 earthquake, but careful rebuilding efforts in some towns have resulted in picturesque centers that are faithful to their historic look. 

Campobasso – Capital and largest city, home to a university, a 15th century castle, 11th century churches, and 16th century cathedral

Isernia – Near Lazio border dating back to ancient Rome, historic center still based on ancient Roman city layout, sights include an archaeological excavation and a nearby village with ruins dating back to the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C.E.

Larino – Town in a mountain valley, heavily damaged in 2002 quake, historic center rebuilt faithfully, sights include 1st century Roman amphitheatre and 11th century cathedral

Termoli – Beach resort popular with vacationing Italians, home to a large Fiat plant, historic center faithfully restored after 2002 quake

Agnone – City near the Abruzzo border, historic artifacts found here date back to 3rd century B.C.E., sights include a museum at the Marinelli bell foundry (in business for more than 1,000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest companies)

The region only has one large ethnic minority: The Molisan Croats (20,000 people who speak an old Dalmatian dialect of the Croatian language) are known for being particularly devout Catholics. They speak the old Dalmatian dialect alongside Italian.


Embodying the freedom and curiosity of the French Enlightenment, Jean Honoré Fragonard (5 April 1732 in Grasse – 22 August 1806 in Paris) developed an exuberant and fluid manner as a painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Prolific and inventive, he abandoned early on the conventional career path dictated by the hierarchical structure of the Royal Academy, working largely for private patrons. His work constitutes a further elaboration of the Rococo idiom established by Antoine Watteau and François Boucher, a manner perfectly suited to his subjects, which favored the playful, the erotic, and the joys of domesticity.
As in the pastorals of his former master Boucher, Fragonard’s rustic protagonists are envisioned with billowing silk clothing, engaged in amorous pursuits.
Early Training in Paris and Italy
Born in the Provençal city of Grasse, Fragonard moved with his family to Paris in 1738. He spent some time in the busy studio of François Boucher before successfully competing for the Prix de Rome in 1752. He then pursued studies at the École Royale des Elèves Protégés in Paris, following the standard training for a history painter.
Back in Paris in 1761, Fragonard found an eager market for his cabinet pictures, which melded the influences of Italian Baroque painting and seventeenth-century Dutch landscape. The spectacular critical success of Coresus and Callirhoë (Musée du Louvre, Paris), which he submitted to the Royal Academy in 1765, led to high hopes that he would be the salvation of history painting in France. However, it was a promise he chose not to fulfill, neglecting royal commissions in favor of work for private collectors.
Shortly after the disappointment of Madame du Barry’s rejection of the Louveciennes panels, Fragonard agreed to embark on a second trip to Italy (1773–74) as artistic companion to Pierre-Jacques-Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt, a wealthy fermier général. A great many drawings are associated with this trip, their style quite distinct from those Fragonard made on his first trip. Seated Man Reading  probably belongs to a series of informal red chalk portraits Fragonard drew of Bergeret’s friends and acquaintances along the way. A Fisherman Pulling a Net and A Fisherman Leaning on an Oar  must have been made during the two months the party spent in Naples in spring of 1774. He also adopted at this time the technique of brush and brown wash, which he employed with a freedom and facility paralleling his oil paintings of the 1760s.
In 1756, Fragonard was sent to Italy as a pensioner of the crown; he remained at the French Academy in Rome until 1761. From the numerous black chalk copies he executed there, it is clear that he held masters of the Baroque in the highest esteem, copying works in Rome,Naples, and Venice. Many, such as Saint Celestine V Renouncing the Papacy , were made with eventual publication as prints in mind. He also produced brilliant red chalk drawings of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli and painted small cabinet-size paintings for French private collectors living in Rome. The Stolen Kiss was painted for the bailiff of Breteuil, French ambassador to the Order of Malta in Rome. As in the pastorals of his former master Boucher, Fragonard’s rustic protagonists are envisioned with billowing silk clothing, engaged in amorous pursuits.
Official and Commercial Success
During this period, he further developed the painterly surface of his canvases, working with great rapidity and little blending, giving pictorial form to the qualities of “fire” and “genius” so admired by contemporary collectors. ThePortrait of a Woman with a Dog  is related to an inventive series of virtuoso imaginary portraits referred to collectively as the Figures de fantaisie. They feature archaic costumes, often vaguely Spanish or Rubensian in inspiration, and brushwork so rapid and undisguised that it would have previously been associated with oil sketches rather than finished works.
Similar achievements can be cited in the realm of drawing. A Gathering at Woods’ Edge, like many sheets Fragonard made for the increasingly active collector’s market, is not a study for a painting, but a finished work of art on paper. In its unhesitating technique and varied range of graphic notation, it is testimony to Fragonard’s unmatched mastery of the red chalk medium and to his endearing vision of nature as welcoming and wondrous.
Fragonard’s masterpiece of this period is the series of large panel paintings commissioned by Madame du Barry, the official mistress of Louis XV, for the château de Louveciennes (The Lover Crowned, The Frick Collection, New York). While the iconography of the series continues to be debated by scholars, the subjects can generally be described as lovers in various stages of romantic involvement in lush, overgrown gardens full of mythological statuary, potted plants, and cascading flowers. A dispute with the patron led to the paintings being returned to the artist and replaced by a more Neoclassical series by Joseph Marie Vien (1716–1809).
Later Career
After his return to France, Fragonard made various attempts to remake his style in the newly popular Neoclassical manner with its planar compositions and smooth surfaces, although the tide of changing taste was ultimately too strong for him. After the French Revolution, he held administrative positions at the Louvre, but his work had fallen from favor and he died in relative obscurity in 1806.

July 3 is the Feast of All Holy Popes

  1. St. Peter (32-67)
  2. St. Linus (67-76)
  3. St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)
  4. St. Clement I (88-97)
  5. St. Evaristus (97-105)
  6. St. Alexander I (105-115)
  7. St. Sixtus I (115-125)
  8. St. Telesphorus (125-136)
  9. St. Hyginus (136-140)
  10. St. Pius I (140-155)
  11. St. Anicetus (155-166)
  12. St. Soter (166-175)
  13. St. Eleutherius (175-189)
  14. St. Victor I (189-199)
  15. St. Zephyrinus (199-217)
  16. St. Callistus I (217-22)
  17. St. Urban I (222-30)
  18. St. Pontain (230-35)
  19. St. Anterus (235-36)
  20. St. Fabian (236-50)
  21. St. Cornelius (251-53)
  22. St. Lucius I (253-54)
  23. St. Stephen I (254-257)
  24. St. Sixtus II (257-258)
  25. St. Dionysius (260-268)
  26. St. Felix I (269-274)
  27. St. Eutychian (275-283)
  28. St. Caius (283-296)
  29. St. Marcellinus (296-304)
  30. St. Marcellus I (308-309)
  31. St. Eusebius (309 or 310)
  32. St. Miltiades (311-14)
  33. St. Sylvester I (314-35)
  34. St. Marcus (336)
  35. St. Julius I (337-52)
  36. St. Damasus I (366-83)
  37. St. Siricius (384-99)
  38. St. Anastasius I (399-401)
  39. St. Innocent I (401-17)
  40. St. Zosimus (417-18)
  41. St. Boniface I (418-22)
  42. St. Celestine I (422-32)
  43. St. Sixtus III (432-40)
  44. St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61)
  45. St. Hilarius (461-68)
  46. St. Simplicius (468-83)
  47. St. Felix III (II) (483-92)
  48. St. Gelasius I (492-96)
  49. St. Symmachus (498-514)
  50. St. Hormisdas (514-23)
  51. St. John I (523-26)
  52. St. Felix IV (III) (526-30)
  53. St. Agapetus I (535-36)
  54. St. Silverius (536-37)
  55. St. Gregory I (the Great) (590-604)
  56. St. Boniface IV (608-15)
  57. St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I) (615-18)
  58. St. Martin I (649-55)
  59. St. Eugene I (655-57)
  60. St. Vitalian (657-72)
  61. St. Agatho (678-81)
  62. St. Leo II (682-83)
  63. St. Benedict II (684-85)
  64. St. Sergius I (687-701)
  65. St. Gregory II (715-31)
  66. St. Gregory III (731-41)
  67. St. Paul I (757-67)
  68. St. Leo III (795-816)
  69. St. Paschal I (817-24)
  70. St. Leo IV (847-55)
  71. St. Adrian III (884-85)
  72. St. Leo IX (1049-54)
  73. St. Celestine V (1294)
  74. St. Pius V (1566-72)
  75. St. Pius X (1903-14)
Hey look, a no-longer-Pope!

So we’ve had implicit comparisons to Gregory XII (“the last time a pope resigned was 600 years ago!”) and to Celestine V (“the last time a pope resigned Dante put him in Hell!”, although it was actually the antechamber of Hell and possibly was Pontius Pilate, not Celestine).

I want someone to try comparing him to Benedict IX. You know, the teenage pope who had wild orgies in the palace, who sold the papacy and then kept trying to take it back (occasionally by force) from the three successive popes they chose to replace him. 

(Although, honestly, for my money, the only pope to really count as having resigned is Celestine V - Benedict IX, in the 1030s and 40s, was compelled into it and sold it and never really acknowledged that he wasn’t pope anymore until they excommunicated him, so that’s more a ‘forcibly booted out’ than retiring; John XVIII earlier that century resigned and died the same year in the context of a bout of plague in the area, so it was probably more a case of “LOOK GUYS I CANNOT FUNCTION HERE BUSY DYING K”; and Gregory XII was one of two popes who were elected concurrently at the end of the fourteenth century - the Great Schism - and both he and the other guy resigned at the same time so that the cardinals could pick a new pope that everyone could agree on. Celestine V, at the end of the 13th century, just didn’t want to be pope and wanted to go home and be a quiet little hermit again - and obviously John and Benedict didn’t count as precedent at the time, because Celestine actually had to pass legislation to say that the pope could resign before he resigned.)


Joachim of Fiore. Vaticinia de Pontificibus Prophecy of the Popes (Harley 1340). Pope Honorius IV, Pope Celestine V, Pope Benedict XII, Pope Clement IV, Nicholas IV of Ascoli, Pope Nicholas III c, Pope John XXII, Pope Benedict XI with Double-Headed Dragon, Pope Boniface VIII, Pope Martin IV. 1425.