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.