Pope Eugene III

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Pope Eugene III

Pope Eugene III (Latin: Eugenius III; c. 1080 – 8 July 1153), born Bernardo Pignatelli, called Bernardo da Pisa, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 15 February 1145 to his death in 1153. He was the first Cistercian to become Pope. In response to the fall of Edessa to the Muslims in 1144, Eugene proclaimed the Second Crusade. The crusade failed to recapture Edessa, which was the first of many failures by the Christians in the crusades to recapture lands won in the First Crusade.

He was beatified on 28 December 1872 by Pope Pius IX on the account of his sanctity.


  • ...a thing which we can not relate without great grief and wailing, the city of Edessa...has been taken and many of the castles of the Christians occupied by them (the pagans). The archbishop, moreover, of this same city, together with his clergy and many other Christians, have there been slain, and the relics of the saints have been given over to the trampling under foot of the infidels, and dispersed. Whereby how great a danger threatens the church of God and the whole of Christianity, we both know ourselves and do not believe it to be hid from your prudence. For it is known that it will be the greatest proof of nobility and probity, if those things which the bravery of your fathers acquired be bravely defended by you the sons. But if it should happen otherwise, which God forbid, the valour of the fathers will be found to have diminished in the case of the sons.
    • Quantum praedecessores (1 December 1145) calling for the Second Crusade, quoted in Anne Fremantle, Papal Encyclicals in their Historical Context (1956), p. 68
  • We exhort therefore all of you in God, we ask and command, and, for the remission of sins enjoin: that those who are of God, and, above all, the greater men and the nobles do manfully gird themselves; and that you strive so to oppose the multitude of the infidels, who rejoice at the time in a victory gained over us, and so to defend the oriental church—freed from their tyranny by so great an outpouring of the blood of your fathers, as we have said,—and to snatch many thousands of your captive brothers from their hands,—that the dignity of the Christian name may be increased in your time, and that your valour which is praised throughout the whole world, may remain intact and unshaken.
    • Quantum praedecessores (1 December 1145), quoted in Anne Fremantle, Papal Encyclicals in their Historical Context (1956), p. 68
  • Certain of you, however, (are) desirous of participating in so holy a work and reward and plan to go against the Slavs and other pagans living towards the North and to subject them, with the Lord's assistance, to the Christian religion. We give heed to the devotion of these men, and to all those who have not accepted the cross for going to Jerusalem and who have decided to go against the Slavs and to remain in the spirit of devotion on that expedition, as it is prescribed, we grant that same remission of sin...and the same temporal privileges as to the crusaders to Jerusalem.
    • Divina dispensatione (11 April 1147) calling for the Wendish Crusade, quoted in Giles Constable, 'The Second Crusade as seen by Contemporaries', Traditio Vol. 9 (1953), p. 255

Quotes about Pope Eugene III[edit]

  • ...the news of his election continued to amaze Europe for news it was that a simple monk, without the sponsorship of faction or prince and known only for his piety, should be chosen as Pope. ... Despite the gloomy forebodings and despite his unworldliness Eugenius met his problems with sound judgment and serene courage. The temporal claims of his office were of little importance to the tonsured monk who always was, despite exalted rank, to set the routine of life by the frugalities and discipline of his Order. His obvious sincerity and goodness, the complete absence from his character of predatory traits or revengeful instincts, did not fail to have effect with the Romans.
    • John Farrow, Pageant of the Popes (1943), p. 139

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