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Wednesday 22 September |
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Saint Peter Celestine

A Hermit Who Became Pope


Public Domain

Pope (1210-1296)

His life

+ Peter was born in 1210 and lived as a monk in the abbey of Santa Maria di Faifula before setting out to live as a hermit on Mount Morrone.

+ Soon, others were drawn to join him in his life of prayer and contemplation and this laid the foundation for a new monastic order—the Celestines—who were later incorporated into the Benedictine Order.

+ Frustrated by the politics he saw tearing the Church apart, Peter traveled to Rome and harshly condemned the conclave of twelve cardinals who had been unable to elect a pope for more than two years. In response, the cardinals chose to elect the eighty-five year old hermit. Peter became known as Pope Celestine V.

+ Out of his depth in this world of political maneuvering and intrigue, Peter resigned as pope after serving for only a few months. Although he wanted nothing more than to return to his hermitage, his successor, the scandalous Pope Boniface VIII, placed Peter under house arrest where he died on May 19, 1296.

+ Saint Peter Celestine was canonized in 1313.

Spiritual bonus

On May 19, the Church also remembers Saint Ivo of Brittany. A respected priest, Ivo was also a judge who was beloved by the poor for his fairness and sense of justice, including paying the legal fees of those who could not afford a lawyer. Saint Ivo died in 1303 and was declared a saint in 1347. He is honored as the patron saint of Brittany, of lawyers, and abandoned children.

For reflection

God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something.”—1 Corinthians 1:27-28


Lord our God, you are the crown of your saints and the glory of the lowly. You called blessed Celestine to serve you humbly both as pope and hermit. By his intercession may we follow the hard road that leads to life eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(from The Benedictine Supplement: Proper Masses for the Use of the Benedictine Confederation)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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