LIVES OF THE POPES
Emperor Frederic Barbarosa was compelled to seek reconciliation with Pope Alexander III. An interview took place between the two at Venice in 1177, and it is related that when the Emperor kissed the feet of the Pontiff, he placed his feet on the Emperor’s neck, apostrophizing himself in the language of the Scriptures: “You shall tread on the adder and the lion.” It was this pope who first gratified the pride of the Roman clergy by parading through the streets of Rome, having his horse led by two powerful monarchs, Henry of England and Louis of France, who reverently held the bridle while the pope rode to his habitation.
When Pope Celestine III was performing the ceremony of coronation for the Emperor Henry VI with all the usual solemnities, on the monarch’s bending his knee before the pope the proud pontiff rudely kicked off the crown which he had just placed on the Emperor’s head, to show that he could with equal ease, confer crowns and take them away, an instance of audacity to which history hardly furnishes a single parallel. To such a perfect contradiction had the popes arrived of the example of Him whom they pretend to represent and who emphatically said: “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble in my heart.”
Concerning the “Holy Inquisition”, it was established in the thirteenth century by Popes Honorius II, Gregory IX, and Innocent IV, to try people for heresy. We cannot fully describe the terrible prosecution of the Albigensians and the Waldenesians in which no fewer than a million lives were sacrificed, and thousands were forced to flee from homes of their childhood, and endure the horrors of poverty under new forms of persecution. Pope Innocent said in his bull to the nobles and princes , who would take arms in the cause of destroying the heretics: “We exhort you to destroy the wicked heresy of the Albigenses, and do this with more rigor than you would on the Saracens themselves,” promising the murderers seats of honor in Paradise, and the remission of their sins.
From the year 1233 onward to 1687, the severity of the inquisition, imprisonment, torture and the stake, continued to be inflected on the Waldenses, supplemented by occasional “crusades.” The most notable of these took place in 1418, under Pope Innocent VIII, when among other barbarities a multitude of fugitives – men, women and children – were mercilessly smoked to death in an alpine cave.
St. Bartholomew Massacre
This tragic slaughter took place in France and has no equal in modern times and which is written in dismal characters upon the annals of the French nation and in the history of the church of Rome. Seventy-five thousand unoffending and unresisting victims, who were considered as heretics to Rome. The rivers of France were dyed with the blood of these innocents. Rome received the news of the direful massacre with loud demonstrations of joy, and it was momentarily expected in the “holy city” Cardinal Alessandrian exclaimed joyfully: “The King of France has kept his word,” and Pope Gregory decreed that there should be public rejoicing to celebrate the event. High Mass was performed with every circumstance and pomp and splendor, and before the crying to heaven for vengeance had died away, the solemn strains of the Te Deum arose from the choir of St. Peter’s thanking God for the accomplishment of the most monestrous crime which history records, and worst of all, the pope caused a medal to be struck in memory of the dead, bearing on one side the likeness of his own face, and on the other an effigy of the destroying angel, surmounted by the inscription: “Huguenotorum stryges” – Slaughter of the Hugenots. The Sultan of Egypt was fully justified in his reply to a letter of Pope Innocent Iv: “We have received your epistle and listened to your envoy. He has spoke to us of Jesus Christ, whom we honor more than you honor."
Pope Boniface VIII removed Pope Celestine V and took his office. He commenced his pontificate by asserting his right to adjudicate in all matters whatsoever in ever part of the world. Albert of Austria had slain his competitors for the imperial crown and therefo9re sent to the pope for the customary confirmation. Pope Boniface replied to the messenger by putting the crown upon his head and exclaiming: “It is I who am Caesar; it is I who am emperor.” And from that time it became usual for the pontiffs to wear a double crown, indicating their temporal as well as spiritual supremacy, until the conceit of a later pope added a third crown to the bauble.
There seemed literally no limits to the arrogance of Pope Boniface VIII. As if he were more than human, he pretended to give and take away crowns and scepters by the mere expression of his will. Sardinia and Corsica he bestowed upon James of Aragon, Hungary on the grandson of Charles of Anjou The crown of Scotland he asserted to be his. All this show to what a degree this pope was prepared to go to indulge his monstrous appetite for power which is worldly. The death of this pope is something too sorrowful to insert.
From The Old Church in the New World
To be continued.