The Deeds of Pope Innocent III
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It is a treasure of contemporary letters, arranged by the author to reinforce his interpretation of the events discussed. The results are new insights that will inspire both students and scholars. The translator provides an engaging introduction and adds numerous explanatory notes throughout the book.
Those who seek a fuller understanding of the development of the papacy during a period of great change in medieval religious history will find this work essential.
He is the author or editor of twelvebooks and has published numerous articles. The Kingdom of Sicily.
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Powell, electronic resource. Powell, electronic resource Resource Information. Powell, electronic resource represents a specific, individual, material embodiment of a distinct intellectual or artistic creation found in University Of Pikeville. This item is available to borrow from 1 library branch. Contributor Powell, James M.
Language eng lat eng. Publication Washington, DC. Extent 1 online resource xlv, p. Isbn File format unknown Form of item online Isbn Isbn Type electronic bk. He was a tireless guardian of the precious Deposit of Faith and its life-giving Catholic doctrines — the commission given by Christ Jesus, through Peter, to all the Popes. And so we find Innocent, in the midst of his plans for another Crusade to the Holy Land, obliged to divert his efforts to the gathering of a Crusade not to war on the infidels but on heretics, on so-called Christians — the Albigenses — after his many attempts to convert them had failed and when they had taken to adding to their ranks by the forceful use of the sword.
The terrible Albigensian heresy, named after its headquarters in the prosperous town of Albi in southern France, actually had worked its diabolical way into the West from Asia — through Bulgaria and across southern Europe to the cities of Lombardy, in northern Italy, and Languedoc, in southern France.
The south of France, sunny and warm and fertile, was, not unlike our own Southern California, a refuge for followers of strange sects. There had for centuries been flourishing there communities of Saracens and Jews, and what more natural than that this new arrival, this equally Asiatic cult, should find encouragement and sympathy in their midst? The dark and sinister and unspeakably impure doctrines of the Albigenses gradually spread until, Pope Innocent tells us in his letters, they had infected every corner of a thousand cities of Europe, and endangered, not only the Church and the priesthood but the Christian state and Christian society.
Evil, they said, as did the Manicheans centuries before them, was an eternal principle, just as good was an eternal principle. The created world, even the glory of its splendors, was the work not of the good, but of the evil principle. The soul, the work of the good god, had been enticed into the body of man by the seductions of the evil god, and there it remained, imprisoned.
Its only hope was, at any cost, to leave the body. Marriage, of course, was the greatest of all evils, since it begot children. Suicide was a religious act, since it liberated the soul from the body. A convert was forced, in order to join this satanic cult — which, hard as it is for us to believe it, was being embraced by the majority of the nobles in the south of France and even by some abbots and canons — to renounce the Catholic Church, to declare the Mass an idolatry, the Holy Eucharist an abomination bread and wine were creations of the evil spirit , the Church of Rome the whore of Babylon, and the Pope, Antichrist.
The Cathari, or The Pure, was the name they gave themselves, while their impurities, hideous and vile and revolting, rose as a foul stench in the nostrils of all decent men. When, after his ten years of effort to convert the Albigenses had failed, and after the heretics had murdered his legate, the Cistercian monk Pierre de Castelnau, Pope Innocent, in , called at last for a Crusade against them.
But even this succeeded only in creating new difficulties for the great Pope, for the Crusade, under Simon de Montfort, got out of hand and degenerated into a bloody conquest for land. However, just when the valiant Pontiff was tempted to despair the whole matter, heaven-sent help arrived in the person of a holy friar who for years had walked barefoot, clad in the raiment of the poor, through the streets of the cities and towns of the Cathari country, preaching, working miracles, and making practically all of the conversions which were lasting.
He was Dominic, of the noble Spanish family of Guzman, born in , and founder of the illustrious Order which bears his name. His mother, while she was with child, dreamed that she brought forth a little whelp dog with a lighted torch in his mouth, and that he set all the world on fire.
The Deeds of Pope Innocent III (): James M. Powell - BiblioVault
Pope Innocent, captivated by their zeal and holiness, told them to choose the neighboring harvest, and begged them to work with all their strength to save the Church from the loathsome heresy which was threatening her children with such diabolic fury. For this, he had often spent whole nights in the church in prayer; for this, he had scourged his body and fasted until his Bishop, fearing for his health, implored him to take more nourishment and to mix a little wine with the water which he drank.
There remained ever before his eyes the horror of the offenses being given to God and the vast numbers of souls being lost as the heresy and impieties of the Albigenses multiplied and spread, and no penance which he might inflict on himself ever seemed too great a price to pay for the deliverance of the Church from such a scourges.
For seven years, he labored. In , he succeeded in opening at Prouille a convent for nuns, converts from Albigensianism, an unheard of and scarcely hoped for thing. This last, Saint Dominic offered his Holy Father in abundance. So carried away with love of God was he that as he said Mass tears flooded from his eyes, and his body, as he elevated in his hands the Sacred Body of his Savior, was lifted in ecstasy high above the ground. During his lifetime he raised three men from the dead.
It seems that the Holy Father had dictated a note to Dominic, and he wished to enclose with it some papers for the holy friar. He asked one of his secretaries to dispatch the packet. Do not write that. Fifty years later, the houses of the Order numbered three hundred and twenty, and the Scandinavian countries, Poland, Greece and Palestine had been added to the list. Before the end of the century there were, in the country of the terrible Albigenses, one hundred and forty monasteries of the barefoot, poor friar who had wept as he walked their roads, sighing with love for God and praying with great desire for their conversion.
Saint Dominic left to the world a legacy whose value is beyond computing. For he left to every Catholic — from the tiniest lisping young child to the oldest whispering bent child, to the girl praying for her lover and the boy holding vigil for his wife, to the father afraid for his son and the mother anxious for her daughter — to all of all ages, he left that singular devotion by which they have climbed, as by so many stairs, to the throne of the gracious and generous Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God.
Saint Dominic left to the world what Mary gave to him; he left to the world — the Rosary. The Rosary, in its power over the Prince of Darkness, has been likened to the slingshot by which David slew Goliath. The Rosary, on the lips of the faithful, has turned the tide of battle, lifted the scourge of pestilence, freed the captive.
It has won, in the fingers of a Pope, Pius V, the saving victory of Lepanto. It has brought rain to parched lands, children to childless mothers, work to idle fathers. Found in the pockets of stricken men, it has brought the priest, with his absolving hand. Held in the clasp of Catholic women, it has changed the destiny of empires.
The Rosary, in the hands of the sons of Saint Dominic, overcame the Albigenses. When Saint Francis stood before Pope Innocent, in , clothed in the coarse serge garment tied about the waist with a cord, which was his habit, and asked the great Pontiff, in the midst of his cardinals, to approve his Order, Pope Innocent at first dismissed him. He said, as did the cardinals, that the religious orders already in existence in the Church needed reforming much more than being added to.
But while the Pope — worn out with care and full of anxiety as how best to overcome the vices of luxury and sloth which were infecting not only the nobles and the people, but the clergy as well — lay sleeping one night after his meeting with Saint Francis, he saw in a dream the great Church of the Lateran falling, and a poor beggar holding it up with his shoulders. The poor beggar he recognized. It was Francis of Assisi, and the grateful Pontiff was given to understand that the new Order would be a pillar of the Church.
Pope Innocent saw Saint Dominic in a similar vision five years later. The next day the Pope sent for Saint Francis, welcomed him warmly, approved his Rule, and ordained him deacon. He would be poor even in his name, for the spirit of holy poverty was the foundation of his Order. It is told that he returned one day from an apostolic journey and found a new building at the Portiuncula — the little ruined church belonging to the Benedictines of Subiaco, about a mile out of Assisi, which he had repaired in , named for Our Lady of the Angels and, with the addition of several extremely simple wooden dwellings, made the mother house of his Order.
He looked now with disapproving eyes upon the new construction. He considered it much too neat and imposing for his friars, and he ordered that it be torn down. It was some days before the citizens of Assisi were able to prevail upon him to leave it standing, even though they explained that it was in no way meant for the use of the Friars Minor. They themselves had built it, they said, for the lodging of strangers, who were arriving daily in increasing numbers, drawn, as is ever the way, by the irresistible attraction of sanctity.
Saint Francis at last relented when it was pointed out to him that without the shelter of the new building the pilgrims must sleep on the ground, in the open fields. Similarly, when vocations to his Order were being received in extraordinary numbers and his hut-like little houses were multiplying with miraculous rapidity over the countrysides and even in the cities, Saint Francis chose one day to visit his brethren recently established in Bologna. When he arrived, he found them living, not in a small, poor house, but in a large, spacious dwelling. He was inconsolable. And he was indignant.
Saint Francis called his body Brother Ass, because it was to carry heavy burdens, to be beaten, and to eat little and coarsely. The Glory be to the Father was his favorite aspiration, and he would repeat it constantly with singular devotion. He advised everyone to do the same. A lay brother once asked him for leave to study.
The circumstances preceding their meeting are at once an explanation of their place in the Church and in their century. It seems that one night during the Council, when Saint Dominic was kneeling in prayer in the Basilica of Saint Peter, he became aware of the figure of Our Lord standing just above him, holding in His sacred hand three arrows, with which he was about to strike the world in punishment for its tremendous wickedness.
Now, one of these men Saint Dominic recognized to be himself; the other he did not know.
The Deeds of Pope Innocent III
The next day, however, as he entered a church to pray, he saw the stranger of his vision, dressed in a long coarse garment tied about the waist with a cord, and having every appearance of being a poor beggar. It was Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, and although Saint Dominic did not know that, he did know that here was his companion and brother in the work to which they both were called by the Blessed Mother of God.
You will go with me. Let us keep together, and nothing shall prevail against us.
follow link This was the beginning of a friendship which lasted during the rest of their lives. Though their Orders remained separate, each doing the work which God had called upon him to do, from that day on they were as one heart and one soul. And so in the end their ways were, in all things, very much the same. Each, by whole nights and days spent in prayer, achieved a love of God so burning and intense that the whole world was lighted by its glow, and entire nations were filled with the irresistible infection of their fervor and holy joy.
Each gave to the Church countless sons and daughters. Each numbered in his ranks popes and bishops, blesseds and saints. And each was encouraged and loved by the wistful and holy Pope who knew them both when their Orders were young. Each warmed the heart and gave hope to the soul of Innocent III.
When, as one of the results of the Crusades, towns began to spring up all over Europe, where heretofore there had been fertile fields and farm lands, and diseases and epidemics began more frequently to infect the people living so unwontedly close together, Pope Innocent saw the need for hospitals, to take care especially of the ill who were without family to attend them. After he had carefully studied the matter, he asked the Fathers of the Holy Spirit to come to Rome and establish a hospital in the City of the Popes. There were, besides, a corps of attendants whose duty it was to go out into the poorer sections of the city every day to look for the stricken who might be lying neglected or uncared for, in order that they might be brought in for treatment.
In France, the Sisters of the Holy Ghost established hospitals on the order of those which the Brothers of the Holy Ghost were founding. We know that all of the famous old English hospitals date from the beginning of the thirteenth century, and were an imitation of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit at Rome; hospitals in every modern sense of the word. The regulations for each section of the hospital, and every kind of human affliction, reveal the most minute and exquisite care by those whose transcendent and sublime privilege it was to bind the open wounds and moisten the parched lips of Christ suffering in their stricken brothers and sisters.
For this reason alone, the interest in this man and in this time will never die out…. But what is of the utmost significance for God, the sick, and the century, this German scientist characteristically missed, and that is the glorious fact that the vast charity of Pope Innocent and his army of religious flowed from the Fountainhead of all charity, the adorable Heart of Jesus tabernacled in the Blessed Sacrament; a Charity that is divinely Personal.
No purely human, secular, un-Eucharistified charity can ever approximate it. Both the East and West were represented. There were present seventy one primates and archbishops, four hundred and twelve bishops, nine hundred priors and abbots. The Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch sent their representatives; the Patriarchs of Jerusalem and Constantinople came in person. There were in attendance ambassadors representing every prince in Christendom.
Besides approving the Fifth Crusade to the Holy Land, the great Council issued seventy decrees for the reform of the Church, of the clergy and of the people. The creed was directed primarily to the Albigenses and Waldenses, but it contains, in clear, unmistakable, simple expression the sacred doctrine which has been, in such wholesale, heartbreaking fashion, denied or explained away in our day by practically three quarters of the Church.
Outside of it no one at all can be saved. Those, literally, are their words; they added nothing more by way of explanation because no explanation was necessary. That was all there was to it. It is clear, final and irrevocable. And because it is the infallible truth, no Pope ever can define the opposite of it. No Pope can ever define that there is salvation outside the Catholic Church. We can be absolutely sure that were Pope Innocent III alive today he would at this point call a Crusade of all the orthodox Catholics who are left — even though their numbers may not be overwhelming — and march against every heretical bishop, priest and layman who dares to pervert the holy doctrine he was at so much pains to define.
And that is not all. The Fourth Lateran Council did one other thing which is a direct rebuke to the frightening laxity of doctrine in our time. Pope Innocent and his bishops issued four canons against the Jews and the Saracens. These four canons should have terrible significance for the Catholics today who have in such wholesale fashion taken the Jews to their bosoms, and would undoubtedly in the name of interfaith take the Saracens also were they not thousands of miles away.
That the priest historians who know these canons so well are content to sit silently in their studies in the midst of the blasphemy and religious suicide of interfaith which now goes on all around them, along with the increasing monopoly by the Jews of the economic, financial, social entertainment and religious life of the nation, and are not out shouting in anguished warning, is a sure sign not only of the general loss of Faith but of the abandonment of the merest sense of self-preservation.
The Fathers of the Fourth Lateran Council had no such fatal blindness.
This, we enjoin most severely, lest they presume in some measure to offer insults to Our Redeemer…. We prescribe that those guilty of this crime be punished. Pope Innocent and the Fourth Lateran Council were not the first Pope and council to be obliged to legislate for the protection of the Church and her children against the perfidious infidel, as Pope Benedict XIV brought out in his encyclical letter, A quo primum, of , to the Primate, Archbishops and Bishops of Poland concerning what is forbidden to Jews dwelling in the same towns and districts as Christians.