Goffredo da Castiglione (Celestine IV) elected Pope
Pope Celestine IV (died November 10, 1241 in Rome), born Goffredo da Castiglione, was pope from October 25, 1241 to November 10, 1241.
Born in Milan, Goffredo or Godfrey is often referred to as son of a sister of Pope Urban III (1185–87), but this information is without foundation. His early life is unknown until he became chancellor of the church of Milan (perhaps as early as 1219, certainly in 1223–27). Pope Gregory IX (1227–41) made him a cardinal September 18, 1227 , with the cure of San Marco, and in 1228–29 sent him as legate in Lombardy and Tuscany, where the cities and communes had generally remained true to the Hohenstaufen emperor, Frederick II, in an attempt to bring them around to the curial side, without success (Lex. der Mittelalters). In 1238 he was made cardinal bishop of Sabina (Pallavicini Bagliani 1972).
The papal election of 1241 that elected him was held under stringent conditions that hastened his death. The papal curia was disunited over the violent struggle to bring the Emperor and King of Sicily Frederick II, to heel. One group of cardinals favored the ambitious schemes of the Gregorian Reform, and aimed to humble Frederick II as a papal vassal. Frederick II however controlled as his unwilling guests in Tivoli two cardinals whom he had captured at sea, and in Rome Cardinal Giovanni Colonna was his ally, largely because the curia were in the hands of the Colonna archenemy, the senator Matteo Rosso Orsini, who held the consistory immured under his guards in the ramshackle palace of the Septizodium, where rains leaked through the roof of their chamber, mingled with the urine of Orsini's guards on the rooftiles (Abulafia 1988, p 350). One of the cardinals fell ill and died.
One group, which included Sinibaldo de' Fieschi (soon to be Pope Innocent IV) backed a candidate from the inner circle of Pope Gregory IX expected to pursue the hard line with Frederick II. Another group advocated a moderated middle course, not allies of the Hohenstaufen, but keen to reach an end to the Italian war. Overtures to Frederick II, however, were met with the impossible demand, that if they wished the cardinals in his hands to return to Rome, they must elect as Pope one of them, Otto of St. Nicholas, an amenable compromise figure. Matteo Orsini's candidate was also unacceptable, Romano da Porto, who had persecuted scholars at the University of Paris and had conducted himself in unseemly fashion in the presence of the Queen Mother.
The cardinal bishop of Sabina was finally elected Pope Celestine IV by seven cardinals only, on October 25, 1241. He occupied the throne for only seventeen days, his only notable papal act being the timely excommunication of Matteo Orsini, and died, before consecration, of wear and age, on November 10, 1241, and was buried in St Peter's.
A native of Milan, nephew of Urban III, and probably a Cistercian; died 10 November, 1241. He was made cardinal by Gregory IX and succeeded him, 25 October, 1241, at the height of the papal warfare with Emperor Frederick II. He died after a reign of fifteen days.
The death of Gregory IX was good news to Emperor Frederick II, and he loudly proclaimed his jubilation to the world. According to Frederick's smug expression, Gregory had flouted the August One, i.e., the Emperor, and therefore had not been allowed to live through avenging August. Frederick expressed the hope that the next pope would be more favorable; and to give some force to his hope, the Emperor remained with his army threatening Rome.
Meanwhile in Rome the senator Matteo Rosso Orsini promptly confined the cardinals in the Septizonium to hurry them on to an election. This appears to be the first conclave in the strict sense of the word, that is, the locking up of the cardinals until they had elected a pope. Though Frederick withdrew his army into Apulia, the cardinals had a hard time coming to a decision. Cardinal Godfrey Castiglioni took an early lead in the balloting but was unable to command the necessary twothirds majority. When the Romans heard the rumor that the cardinals were going to elect an outsider as a compromise, a mob insulted the conclave. Indeed it is said that the Romans threatened to dig up the corpse of Pope Gregory and put it in with the cardinals if they did not elect one of their number. Through the frightful heat of August and September into October the conclave struggled. At last on October 25, 1241, Godfrey Castiglioni gained the necessary majority. He accepted and chose the name Celestine IV.
Godfrey Castiglioni was born in Milan, the son of John Castiglioni and Cassandra Crivelli, the sister of Urban III. He entered the rank of the clergy and rose to be a canon and chancellor of the church of Milan. In 1187 he resigned his honors to enter the Cistercian monastery of Hautecombe. There he is said to have written a History of the Kingdom of Scotland. Forty years later, in 1227, Gregory IX made him cardinal-priest of St. Mark, and twelve years later still, in 1239, Gregory made him cardinal-bishop of Sabina. He must have been a very old man indeed when elected pope.
His advanced age and weak health were probably the chief reasons why the divided cardinals agreed at last on Celestine. He might have made a good pope, for he was an excellent theologian and was charitable to the poor, but he had no time to prove his ability. The sick old man lasted exactly seventeen days as pope. On November 10, 1241, Celestine IV died. His death was the signal for most of the cardinals to hurry out of Rome, because they had no wish to undergo another ordeal like the last conclave. The few cardinals who remained buried Celestine IV in St. Peter's on November ll.