#179 - Pope Celestine IV
Pope from October 25, 1241 - November 10, 1241
Died: November 10, 1241
Birth name: Godfrey Castiglione
Who was this guy before he was pope?
Godfrey Castiglione first appeared on the ecclesiastical scene when he was made chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milan around the year 1219. He was made a cardinal by Pope Gregory IX in 1228 and assigned to the Church of St. Mark. Gregory made him cardinal-bishop of Sabina ten years later.
Give me the scoop on Celestine IV.
The election of Celestine IV was unique (and a little icky) for a number of reasons. At Gregory’s death, only 12 cardinals were living, two of which were being held prisoner by Emperor Frederick II. The remaining 10 were deeply divided over Gregory’s successor, and in addition were confined by Rome’s shady senator, Matteo Orsini, to the
, a bizarre building with poor living conditions. One example, rumor has it, was urine from the roof guards leaking through the ceiling onto the papal electors!
Though Celestine IV was finally chosen as pontiff, he died barely two weeks later, having contracted an infection from the abhorrent conditions of the conclave. There’s a decent chance the cardinals, knowing they’d be released if they settled on a pope, picked the one nearest death to give themselves time to flee Rome before having to pick another.
What was he known for?
Pope Celestine IV is best known for his bronze medal for shortest papacy in Church history. At 16 calendar days in office, he’s behind only Urban VII (September 1590; 13 days) and Boniface VI (April 896; 16 days). Ironically, his papacy was barely a quarter of the length of time it took to elect him (64 days).
(“vacant seat”) was the longest the Church had seen in decades, it was but one-ninth of the length between Pope Celestine IV and his successor, Innocent IV. However,
gap, at 592 days, wasn’t even the longest vacancy
. Not 30 years later, over 1,000 days would go by before the College of Cardinals elected Blessed Gregory X on September 1, 1271.
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Guruge, A. (2010). The Next Pope. New Hampshire: WOWNH
Pope Celestine IV -
Pope Celestine IV -
List of popes by length of reign -
Karin Kaspar (Flocknote Support)
on Friday, September 4, 2020 at 2:00PM