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Pope Celestine V (Papa Celestino)

Religious Itinerary

The "Perdonanza Celestiniana" (The Pardoning of Celestine V):
On 28 August a historical procession goes through the town carrying the Pardon Bull, an original document kept in the Municipial Tower, up to the Basilica of St Maria di Collemaggio, where the "Porta Santa" (the Holy Pardon Door) is opened by a Cardinal as an "Apostolic Legate".
The Pardon Bull grants anyone entering the Basilica of St Maria di Collemaggio, confessed and truly repented, from vespers on 28 August to vespers on 29 August, absolution from all sins.
L'Aquila is, together with Rome, the only town in the world enjoying the privilege to open the Holy Door every year.
On the days before the "Perdonanza Celestiniana", performances, concerts, art and handicraft exhibitions and several cultural and entertainment activities are organized in the town.

St Peter Celestine V in DVD

(Pope Celestine V)
(Papa Celestino V)
Sulmona, 400 mt
The Saint's life:
Peter from Morrone was born in 1209 (1215?) in Terra di Lavoro (Molise) from Angelerio and Maria Leone, as it is stated in the Papal Bull by Clemente V, dating back to 1306. When he was twenty, he left the Benedictine Monastery of St Maria in Faifoli, where he spent a short but unhappy time, looking for absolute solitude. First he lived inside a cave at Scontrone, in Castel di Sangro, for a short time; then he spent three years in a cave, dug in the rock by himself, on Mount Palleno (today it is called Mount Porrara).
Later a sanctuary - St Maria dell'Altare - will be built there. He stayed there for a long time, living in absolute solitude. After that he went to Rome, stayed at the Laterano and received holy orders.
In 1241 he left Rome. He retired in a cave near a small mountain church devoted to St Maria di Segezzano, at the foot of Mount Morrone, in Sulmona. Later the Monastery of Santo Spirito will be built on it.
As word of his sanctity spread, thousands of local young people were attracted by that pious man who undertook several penitences.
They will be Celestine's disciples. Peter was reserved and quiet. So he could not stand the several and noisy visitors getting to him everyday. He left Segezzano's hermitage and retired on the Majella massif. He chose Ripa Rossa as his first and inaccessible refuge.
Celestine's next refuges were St Spirito on Majella, where crowds of poor and sick pilgrims went on visiting him, and St Bartolomeo in Legio and St Giovanni in Orfento. In the mountains of the Majella massif Celestine's fame increased above all in the years from 1246 to 1293.
In 1273 Celestine, who was sixty, walked to Lyon - it was winter! - to avoid that Gregorio X, who had called a Council, abolished his Order. Celestine's enterprise was successful.
In those years Brother Pietro had the idea of building the big Basilica of Collemaggio in L'Aquila. It was consecrated on 25 August 1288, on Baptist's Decapitation Day. In the meanwhile he went on enlarging the Morrone monastery because lots of people wanted to join him. The monastery became the seat of the Order.
Peter from Morrone was such a strong disciple of Christ's message of poverty that in June 1293 he retired in St Onofrio hermitage, where he spent thirteen months in absolute solitude.
In that same time, King Carlo II D'Angiò came to an agreement concerning Sicily's return with the Aragonesi. But he needed a Pope who ratified that agreement. So he made Peter write a strange letter to the cardinals. In the letter Peter threatened that God would get angry if the cardinals did not hurry to elect a new Pope. After Pope Niccolò IV' s death the Church was getting more and more corrupted and the relationship between Church and State were bad.
So the cardinals chose Peter, who was elected Pope as Celestine V on 29 August 1294. After his election, Celestine gave plenary indulgence to everyone. That was an extraordinary event, as only a few social classes enjoyed such a privilege (since then believers celebrate the so-called "Perdonanza" or "Pardoning" each year on 28 August: they go and visit the Basilica of Collemaggio and enter it passing through the Holy Pardon Door in order to purify their souls).
Celestine left L'Aquila and went to Neaples. From 29 August to 13 December 1294, insincere and dishonest people exploited Celestine's name and fame to make dirty businesses, thus disgracing the Church name.
Celestine's name and fame to make dirty businesses, thus disgracing the Church name.
Even though he was old and tired because of a life of privation, Celestine could not stand that. Therefore he renounced his role, ignoring the threats of the Neapolitan people, who assaulted him and raided his humble shelter. It was a great day, the day of his own and of the Church's redemption. He protested against the eleven cardinals of the Council and he renounced to be a Pope (Celestine V renounced but did not refuse his role. Dante knew the difference between those two words very well. That is why Celestine cannot be labelled as "the one who refused because of his cowardice").
On 24 December, twelve days after Celestine's renunciation, Benedetto Caetani was elected Pope, thanks to Carlo D'Angiò's help, and he was called Pope Bonifacio VIII. The mutual understanding between the new Pope and the King of Neaples caused troubles to Celestine and his disciples.
On 1 January 1295 Celestine, hunted as a dangerous criminal by Carlo D'Angiò's and Bonifacio VIII's allied police, left San Germano and first he got to his cell on Mount Morrone and then to Puglia. There he tried to sail to Greece.
In Vieste he was seized by Bonifacio VIII's emissaries and was confined into the fortress of Castel Fumone. After three hundred and nineteen years of hard imprisonment, the old hermit died. It was Saturday 19 May 1296.

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St Onofrio on Majella
St Spirito's Hermitage
St Giovanni's Hermitage
St Bartolomeo in Legio
St Onofrio on Morrone
Madonna of Altar
St Mary of Collemaggio
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