Gregorio Papareschi

Gregorio Papareschi

Early life

  • Rome, Italy

Not much is known of Papareschi's early years, other than that he was born a citizen of Rome (part of the ancient Guidoni family, "die Guidoni"), son of John Guidoni.  He probably lived most of this part of his life in that area. As with many figures within the Catholic church, his was most likely a life of service in relative obscurity, quietly carrying out his duties but becoming recognized for his work over the course of years.

Church service and cardinalship

  • France and Germany

As a younger man, Gregorio became a member of the Lateran canon (order), eventually being made abbot of both the Benedictine convent of Saint Nicholas at Rome (McClintock and Strong 590) and Saint Primitivus.  Pope Paschal II (1099–1118) made him a Cardinal-Deacon (the lowest ranking order of cardinals) of the Title of Saint Angelo by 1116.  This position brought him into exile in France with Pope Gelasius II (1118–19) and Cardinal-Deacon Pierleone, who later became his rival.

Gregorio was sent, along with the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, Lambert (the papal legate at the time), to Germany in 1119 (under the leadership of Pope Calixtus II). Together they worked on drawing up the Concordat of Worms in 1122.  Gregorio was sent to France the next year with his eventual enemy, Pietro Pierleone.

Early papacy and dissension

On the morning after the death of the current pope, Honorius II, an election was held by the cardinal-bishops present.  After Gregorio was chosen as the new pope, he took the name of Innocent II.  The election was not without conflict, however; just three hours after his appointment, Pierleone was elected by another group of cardinals, giving him the name of Anacletus II.  Both were consecrated on February 23: Innocent at Santa Maria Nuova and Anacletus at Saint Peter's Basilica.

One of the families supporting his cause with a fair amount of clout, the Frangipanis, deserted Innocent II's cause shortly after.  Initially retreating to a family stronghold in Trastevere, he eventually traveled to France via Pisa and Genoa, where he was able to gain the support of King Louis VI ("the Fat").  Thanks to the eloquence of Suger, of Saint-Denis, he also secured support from a group of bishops, who acknowledged him as pope at the synod of Etampes (a commune in metropolitan Paris).

Similar nods came from other bishops gathered at Puy-en-Velay, through Saint Hugh of Grenoble.  Following a visit to the Abbey of Cluny, he met with more bishops at Clermont in November 1130, who promised obedience and created several disciplinary canons.  In 1131, a synod at Wurzburg ratified his election.

Later that same year, he also opened a synod at Rheims, and he oversaw three crownings: King Lothair and Queen Richenza (at Liege) and Prince Louis (of France).  In 1134, he ruled that Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Greenland would all remain under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Hamburg.

Shortly after King Lothair escorted the pope to Rome in 1138, Innocent II learned that his rival, the antipope Pierleone, had died.  The antipope successor, Gregorio Conti (who called himself Victor IV), submitted to Innocent II's authority within two months.

General papacy

  • Rome, Italy

To finish removing any further question over his papacy and any possible contention, Innocent II called the Tenth Ecumenical Council (the Second Lateran Council) on 4 April 1139 (8 April 1139 according to Hefele). It is said to have been attended by a thousand bishops and prelates. In the Council, the official acts of Anacletus II were nullified, including the ordinations of bishops and priests under his authority (these were deposed), and the tenets of Pierre de Bruys were deemed heretical and condemned.

Additionally, canons were made against activities ranging from simony (buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments or benefices, or otherwise making profit from sacred things) to incontinence (lack of discipline with regard to sensual pleasures) to the clergy dressing extravagantly. Roger (who claimed himself King of Sicily and invaded lands granted to others after the emperor departed) was excommunicated. In 1139, he received St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, with great honors, declaring him papal legate for all of Ireland. (He would not grant that St. Malachy resign his see so he could join the community of St. Bernard at Clairvaux, however.) He also restrained William (Patriarch of Jerusalem) and Raoul (Patriarch of Antioch) when they claimed independence (Hergenröther, II, 410).

Papareschi also acted as a mediator during the first stages of turmoil between Alfonso Henriquez and Alfonso of Spain (Ritter von Aschbach, 1833; 304, 458). Henriquez had placed his kingdom under the protection of the Holy See and worked toward making Portugal and independent monarchy. While no resolution was found during the pope's life, the matter was concluded during the papacy of Innocent's successor.

Late life and burial

Innocent II's last years were mostly spent dealing with various synods. In 1140, an ecclesiastical council was held at Sens, where a theologian named Abelard had his theses read before bishops from the provinces of Sens and Reims. Immediately after Bernard of Clairvaux finished reading the theses, Abelard went to Rome to appeal to the pope. At the same time, the bishops of these provinces sent their own arguments to the prelate. Bernard admonished the pope to no longer delay his decision, and six weeks later, Papareschi condemned all of Abelard's theses and ordered him to burn his books. It appears the pope based his decision solely on the recommendations of the bishops, ignoring the council given him by Bernard of Clairvaux, including a list of "errors" the theologian had made (Levillain 450).

Tensions arose in France in 1141, after the death of Alberic, Archbishop of Bourges. Louis VII wanted the nomination of one of his choosing, but the chapter claimed the candidate was unfit for the position and chose Pierre de La Chatre instead. When Louis refused to ratify the election, Pierre brought the matter in person to Rome, where Innocent examined the information presented and confirmed the election was according to ecclesiastical law, himself giving the episcopal consecration. When Pierre returned to France, Louis refused him access to the diocese. After fruitless negotiations, Innocent placed France under interdict, which was not removed until the reign of the next pope.

A monk called Ramiro II was elected King of Aragon in 1143, shortly before the death of the pope. Ramiro had temporarily forsaken his monastic vows in an effort to secure succession through his family line to the throne. There appears to be some question as to whether Innocent II gave Ramiro the Monk dispensation from his vows; opponents of this idea claim this as calumny in opposition to the pope, whose election and reign were frequently in dispute (Damberger, VIII; 202).


    Damberger, Joseph Ferdinand, "Weltgeschichte," Sychronistische Geschichte der Kirche und der Welt im Mittelalter (Friedrich Pustet Publishing House: Regensburg, Germany, 1850).

    Hefele-Leclercq [Charles Joseph Hefele and Henri Leclercq], Histoire des conciles, 8 vols. in 16 (Letouzey et Ané: Paris, France, 1907-1921).

    Hergenröther, Joseph, Handbuch der allgemeinen Kirchengeschichte, 3 vols. (Freiburg i. B.: Paris, France, 1876-1880; 2nd ed., 1879, etc.; 3rd ed., 1884-1886; 4th ed., by Peter Kirsch, 1902, etc.; French trans., Paris, 1880, etc.).

    Levillain, Philippe, Dictionnaire historique de la papauté, 1759 pp. (Fayard: Paris, France, 1994).

    McClintock, John, and James Strong, Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, 10 vols. (Harper & Brothers Publishers: New York, NY, 1883).

    Ritter von Aschbach, Joseph, Geschichte Spaniens und Portugals zur Zeit der Herrschaft der Almoraviden und Almohaden, 2 vols. (Frankfurt, Germany, 1833, 1837).