Pope Celestine V was elected on July 5 and resigned on Dec. 13, 1294. He was an Italian born in Isernia and named Pietro del Murrone; successor of Nicholas IV. Celestine’s election ended a two-year deadlock among the cardinals over a successor to Nicholas IV. Although he was known for his austere life as a hermit and for his extremist followers, who called themselves Celestines, he proved a most ineffectual pope and an easy prey to opportunists. King Charles II of Naples quickly dominated him and kept the pope in Naples. Celestine freely granted privileges and offices, turned the duties of his office over to a committee of three cardinals, and kept to his cell. His reign was so chaotic that he abdicated after only five months and ordered a new election. His successor, Boniface VIII, canceled his official acts and, to avert possible schism among Celestine’s ardent followers, kept Celestine in confinement until his death. Celestine was canonized in 1313. Feast: May 19.
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