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Pope Gelasius II

Biography of Pope Gelasius II 1118 – 1119

Pope Gelasius II, born Giovanni Coniulo, was the 161st pope of the Catholic Church, serving from 1118 to 1119. He was born in Gaeta, Italy, in the late eleventh century, but little is known about his early life. He was known for his intelligence, holiness, and diplomatic skills, which made him an ideal candidate for the papacy.

Giovanni Coniulo was ordained as a priest and became a canon of the church in Rome. He quickly rose through the ranks of the church hierarchy and was appointed cardinal-deacon by Pope Paschal II. He was a close confidant of Pope Paschal II and was present at the Council of Guastalla in 1106, where the Investiture Controversy was discussed.

In 1118, Pope Paschal II died, and the College of Cardinals elected Giovanni Coniulo as his successor. He took the name Gelasius II, after the previous pope of that name who had served in the fifth century. Gelasius II was known for his opposition to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, who was seeking to assert his authority over the papacy.

Soon after his election, Gelasius II was faced with a challenge from the Holy Roman Emperor. Henry V had been in a long-standing conflict with the papacy over the right to appoint bishops and invest them with secular power. This conflict, known as the Investiture Controversy, had been ongoing for several decades, and had led to several popes being deposed or exiled.

Henry V demanded that Gelasius II grant him the right to invest bishops, and threatened to use military force if his demands were not met. Gelasius II refused, and the Holy Roman Emperor marched on Rome with an army of several thousand troops.

Gelasius II fled Rome and sought refuge in Gaeta, where he was protected by the Norman Duke of Apulia, Roger II. The Holy Roman Emperor entered Rome and installed his own pope, Gregory VIII. However, Gregory VIII died soon after his election, and the Holy Roman Emperor installed another pope, Clement III.

Meanwhile, Gelasius II had convened a council in Cluny, France, where he was elected pope for the second time. He returned to Rome with a force of Norman knights, and was able to enter the city and reclaim his papal throne.

Gelasius II’s second papacy was marked by continued conflict with the Holy Roman Emperor. Henry V continued to demand the right to invest bishops, and Gelasius II refused. The conflict eventually led to a compromise known as the Concordat of Worms, which was signed in 1122.

The Concordat of Worms granted the right to appoint bishops to the church, but allowed secular rulers to invest them with symbols of their temporal power. This compromise ended the Investiture Controversy, and marked a significant victory for the papacy.

Gelasius II died on January 29, 1119, after serving as pope for just over a year. He was buried in the Lateran Palace in Rome. His papacy was marked by significant conflict with the Holy Roman Emperor, but his diplomatic skills and determination ensured that the papacy emerged from the Investiture Controversy with its authority intact.

Gelasius II was known for his piety and his devotion to the church. He was a staunch defender of the papacy’s independence from secular rulers, and he fought tirelessly to ensure that the church had the authority to appoint bishops and other church officials.

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