Monday, May 19, 2014
Feast of St. Peter Celestine

Double (1955 Calendar): May 19

There are actually two canonized popes with the name of Celestine - St. Celestine I who reigned from 422 to 432 and St. Celestine V who reigned in 1294.  Today's feast of St. Peter Celestine refers to Pope St. Celestine V.

St. Peter Celestine was Pope for five months from 5 July to 13 December 1294, when he resigned. He was also a monk and hermit who founded the order of the Celestines.  It is noted that he is one of only a few popes to have ever resigned from office.  

On December 13, 1294, clothed in full pontifical vesture, he read before the Cardinals this act of his great renunciation:
“Inspired by many legitimate reasons, desiring a more humble state and a more perfect life, fearing to compromise my conscience and seeing my weakness and incapacity, considering the malice of men and yearning for the rest and spiritual consolation I enjoyed before I was raised to this position, I, Celestine V, Pope, do hereby freely and voluntarily renounce the Sovereign Pontificate and abandon the dignity and position to which I was raised.”
In 1313, St. Peter Celestine was canonized and since then no pope has ever again taken the name of Celestine.

To mark the 800th anniversary of Celestine's birth, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the Celestine year from 28 August 2009 through 29 August 2010.

His entry in the Martyrologium Romanum for 19 May reads as follows:
At Castrum Fumorense near Alatri in Lazio, the birth of Saint Peter Celestine, who, when leading the life of a hermit in Abruzzo, being famous for his sanctity and miracles, was elected Roman Pontiff as an octogenarian, assumed the name Celestine V, but abandoned his office that same year and preferred to return to solitude.

O God, who hast raised blessed Peter Celestine to the supreme Pontificate, and also taught him to prefer the virtue of humility, mercifully grant that following his example, we may despise the things of this world, and so merit to attain those rewards which Thou hast promised to the humble of heart.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal 


del_button June 2, 2014 at 12:36 AM
Anonymous said...

I just read about him in a rather large book called, "The Bad Popes" by E. Chamberlain, 1969. Actually, he was not counted as a "bad" pope, his successor, Boniface VIII was.

del_button June 2, 2014 at 12:47 AM
Anonymous said...

Matthew, I mean no disrespect, but am not quite sure how else to put this question: Why do Catholics venerate the dead? Like, the picture you included with this post of an ancient pope dead in a coffin. And I've documentaries where Catholic leaders (Cardinals? Bishops?) took a woman's skull out of a special place (box? cabinet?), and laid it on a velvet pillow with a jeweled crown on it. I've also seen shows where priests took out fingers, bones, or hands of men long, long dead and revered them. What is this all about?

Doesn't the Bible say God is the God of the living and not the dead?

del_button June 2, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Matthew said...

Anonymous, please see these articles:

del_button June 2, 2014 at 1:03 PM
Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response. I read your articles, and understand a little more, but still have questions. Your first article referred to praying "in the presence" of or "to the presence of" while statues and such were around. As to the second article, you gave a fine history of Catholic belief and practice, but both articles left out much of the more unpleasant examples I gave before. Why are dead bodies, skulls, and mummified hands on display for Catholics to receive blessings from? Isn't it a Catholic practice to bury the dead?

And if, as the information in your articles states, all those millions (billions?) who have died as Christians are able to be communicated with after death, what is to stop Catholics from something like ancestor worship?

del_button June 2, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Matthew said...

Catholics do honor the dead and do it to a great degree. I’ve written extensively about some of our many devotions to the dead:

We only publicly display relics of canonized saints. These saints are souls who are in Heaven. By publicly displaying their bodies we give glory to God and honor to Him. God Himself through His supreme greatness has made it possible for human beings to enter Heaven. Honoring relics is honoring God. We do not receive blessings from these artifacts.

We venerate the bodies of saints because even though the saint is dead they are still an important part of that man or woman. They were once temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:15) and one day they will be eternally glorified!

In several places in the Bible we see how important the body is, even after death. For example in the book of Kings a dead man falls into the grave of Elisha the prophet and then is healed! 'As soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet' (2 Kings 13:21).

Just as God draws us closer to him through the lives of holy people, it makes sense that they would continue to draw us to God even by just their physical remains after death. What about pieces of clothing that the saint touched? Why should we honor these? In the book of Acts we read how God did extraordinary miracles through St. Paul. It says that even handkerchiefs or aprons that touched his body caused miracles (Acts 19: 11-12).

Please check out an article like this one for a more eloquent explanation:

God bless you,

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