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Pope Callistus II

Biography of Pope Callistus II 1118 – 1119

Pope Callistus II was the 162nd pope of the Roman Catholic Church, serving from 1119 to 1124. Born Guido of Burgundy in 1065, he was the second son of William I, Count of Burgundy. Guido was educated in the Benedictine monastery of Cluny, where he developed a strong religious devotion and eventually became a monk.

In 1088, Guido was elected bishop of Vienne, a city in southeastern France. As bishop, he earned a reputation for his piety and his ability to mediate disputes between warring factions. In 1106, he was appointed archbishop of Vienne, and soon after he became embroiled in a power struggle with the bishop of Lyon. The conflict was resolved when Pope Paschal II intervened and appointed Guido as the papal legate to France.

As papal legate, Guido became one of the most influential churchmen in France. He presided over several church councils, where he promoted church reform and defended the independence of the church from secular authorities. He also worked to resolve conflicts between secular rulers and the papacy, and he was instrumental in negotiating a peace treaty between the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V and Pope Paschal II.

In 1119, Guido was elected pope following the death of Pope Gelasius II. He took the name Callistus II, after a 3rd-century pope who was known for his efforts to resolve disputes within the church. Callistus II inherited a church that was deeply divided and embroiled in power struggles with secular authorities. He immediately set to work to restore the authority of the papacy and to promote peace and unity within the church.

One of Callistus II’s first acts as pope was to convene the First Lateran Council in 1123. The council addressed several important issues facing the church, including the Investiture Controversy, which had been raging for decades. The Investiture Controversy was a power struggle between the papacy and secular rulers over who had the authority to appoint bishops and other church officials. Callistus II was able to broker a compromise with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, which became known as the Concordat of Worms. The agreement stated that bishops and abbots would be elected by church officials and confirmed by the secular ruler, but that the secular ruler would not invest them with their symbols of office.

Callistus II also worked to promote peace and unity within the church by granting new rights and privileges to monasteries and religious orders. He established the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which was dedicated to the protection of the Holy Land and the defense of pilgrims traveling there. He also granted privileges to the Cistercian Order, which had been founded by his former mentor, Saint Robert of Molesme.

Despite his efforts to promote peace and unity, Callistus II faced several challenges during his papacy. He was forced to deal with a schism within the church, which had been sparked by the election of an antipope named Gregory VIII. Callistus II worked to reconcile with the followers of Gregory VIII, and he was ultimately able to bring them back into the fold of the Roman Catholic Church.

Callistus II also faced opposition from the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, who was unhappy with the Concordat of Worms. Henry V attempted to revoke the agreement, but he was ultimately forced to back down when Callistus II threatened him with excommunication.

Callistus II’s papacy was also marked by his efforts to promote the crusades. He was a strong supporter of the Crusader States in the Holy Land, and he worked to raise money and troops for the cause.

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