Roman Rite Calendar - 05/19
Bookbinders, Aquila, Italy
Also known as
Pietro del Morrone
Eleventh of twelve children. His father died when he was quite young. When his mother would ask, "Which one of you is going to become a saint?" little Peter would answer "Me, Mama! I'll become a saint!".
At 20 Peter became a hermit, praying, working, and reading the Bible. He followed the Benedictine rule, and so many other hermits came to him for guidance, that he founded the Holy Spirit Community of Maiella (Benedictine Celestines).
Following a two year conclave during which the cardinals could not decide on a pope, Peter came to them with the message that God was not pleased with the long delay; the cardinals chose Peter as Pope.
The primary objective of his pontificate was to reform clergy, many of whom were using spiritual power to obtain wordly power. Celestine sought a way to bring the faithful to the original Gospel spirit, and he settled on "Pardon" - he called for a year of forgiveness of sins, and return to evangelical austerity and fidelity.
He reigned a mere five months, and the members of the Vatican Curia took advantage of him. This led to much mismanagement, and great uproar in the Vatican. Knowing he was responsible, Celestine asked forgiveness for his mistakes, and abdicated on 13 December 1294, the only pope to do so. His successor, Boniface VIII, kept Celestine hidden for the last ten months of his life in a small room in a Roman palace. Celestine may have appreciated it - he never lost his love of the hermit's life, and spent his last days in prayer.
1210 at Isneria, Abruzzi, Italy as Pietro del Morrone (Peter Celestine)
5 July 1294
19 May 1296; buried in the church of Saint Agatha, Ferentino, Italy; re-interred in the Church of Saint Maria di Collemaggio, Aquila, Italy
All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index