Popes, murder and Dante…

{Il Portale. Watercolour by Juan Alfredo Parisse.}

It was unexpected to hear of Pope Celestino V {1294} being spoken of in the media until I heard it was in relation to the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign. Celestino aka Pietro del Morrone, a hermit monk who lived in caves in the Abruzzo’s mountains, instigated the building of the Santa Maria di Collemaggio cathedral in L’Aquila (pictured), where he was crowned Pope in front of a crowd of 100,000, including Dante who referred to him in his epic poem, Inferno.

It’s thought the naive Celestine was chosen as a stooge for those in Vatican politics, and when he abdicated in 1294 after just five months, the next Pope, Boniface, took umbrage, and imprisoned him. Celestino was found dead in his cell with a nail-sized hole in his skull, alleged to have been murdered by Pope Boniface.

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