Pope Gelasius II

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Gelasius II, né Giovanni Coniulo (d. January 29, 1119), pope from January 24, 1118 to January 29, 1119, was born at Gaeta of an illustrious family.

He became a monk of Monte Cassino, was taken to Rome by Pope Urban II, and made papal chancellor and Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. As chancellor from 1089 to 1118, he drastically reformed the papal administration, establishing a permanent staff of clerks for the papacy, overcoming the previous custom of relying on Roman notaries to write papal documents, and introducing the minuscule curial script. His tenure also established the precedent that the papal chancellor should always be a cardinal, and should hold the office for life or until he was elected pope.

Shortly after his unanimous election to succeed Pope Paschal II he was seized by Cencius Frangipanè, a partisan of the emperor Henry V, but freed by a general uprising of the Romans on his behalf. Henry sought to enforce the privilege of investiture to the papacy conceded to the emperor by Paschal II, but then revoked. He drove Gelasius from Rome in March, pronounced his election null and void, and set up Burdinus, archbishop of Braga, as antipope under the name of Gregory VIII.

Gelasius fled to Gaeta, where he was ordained priest on the 9th of March and on the following day received episcopal consecration. He at once excommunicated Henry and the antipope and, under Norman protection, was able to return to Rome in July; but the disturbances of the imperialist party, especially of the Frangipani, who attacked the pope while celebrating mass in the church of St. Prassede, compelled Gelasius to go once more into exile. He set out for France, consecrating the cathedral of Pisa on the way, and arrived at Marseilles in October. He was received with great enthusiasm at Avignon, Montpellier and other cities, held a synod at Vienne in January 1119, and was planning to hold a general council to settle the investiture contest when he died at Cluny.


Preceded by:
Paschal II
Pope
1118–1119
Succeeded by:
Callixtus II

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Reference

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