Pope Innocent III

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Pope Innocent III

Pope Innocent III (Latin: Innocentius III; born Lotario dei Conti di Segni (anglicized as Lothar of Segni); 1160 or 1161 – 16 July 1216), was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 January 1198 to his death.

Pope Innocent was one of the most powerful and influential of the medieval popes. He exerted a wide influence over the Christian states of Europe, claiming supremacy over all of Europe's kings. He was central in supporting the Catholic Church's reforms of ecclesiastical affairs through his decretals and the Fourth Lateran Council. This resulted in a considerable refinement of Western canon law. He is furthermore notable for using interdict and other censures to compel princes to obey his decisions, although these measures were not uniformly successful.

Innocent greatly extended the scope of the Crusades, directing crusades against Muslim Iberia and the Holy Land as well as the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in southern France. He organized the Fourth Crusade of 1202–1204, which ended in the sack of Constantinople. Although the attack on Constantinople went against his explicit orders, and the Crusaders were subsequently excommunicated, Innocent reluctantly accepted this result, seeing it as the will of God to reunite the Latin and Orthodox Churches.

Quotes[edit]

  • After the wretched fall of the kingdom of Jerusalem, after the lamentable slaughter of the people of Christendom, after the deplorable invasion of that land on which the feet of Christ had stood, and where God, our King, had deigned to work our salvation in the midst of the earth, after the ignominious removal of the life-giving cross on which the salvation of the world had been hanged, and thereby blotted out the signature of the old death, the Apostolic See, alarmed at the awful recurrence of disasters so unfortunate, was struck with agonizing grief, exclaiming and bewailing to such a degree that, from her continual crying, her throat became hoarse. ... Still the Apostolic See cries aloud, and she raises her voice like a trumpet, trying to arouse the nations of Christendom to fight the battles of Christ, and to avenge the injuries done to him crucified.
    • Post miserabile (13–15 August 1198) calling for the Fourth Crusade, quoted in Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell (eds.), Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (2013), pp. 30–31
  • For behold, our inheritance has gone to strangers, our houses to alien people. ... The sepulcher of the Lord, which the prophet foretold should be so glorious, has been profaned by the unrighteous and has thereby been made inglorious. ... Take, therefore, my sons, the spirit of fortitude, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation, putting your trust in God, not in numbers nor in your strength, but rather trusting in the power of God, to whom it is not difficult to save either with many or the few.
    • Post miserabile (13–15 August 1198), quoted in Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell (eds.), Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (2013), pp. 31–33
  • Who, then, in a case of such great emergency shall refuse to pay obedience to Jesus Christ? When he comes to stand before Christ's tribunal to be judged, what answer will he be able to make to him in defense of himself? If God has submitted himself to death for man, is man to hesitate to submit to death for God? ... Shall then the servant deny temporal riches to his lord when his lord bestows on the servant riches that are eternal. ... Let each and all, then, prepare themselves so that in the next month of March [1199] each city by itself and...each of the earls and barons should...send a number of warriors to the defense of the land of the nativity of our Lord. ... we especially conceive as one of our chief concerns our desire to apply every energy to the rescue of the lands of the East.
    • Post miserabile (13–15 August 1198), quoted in Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell (eds.), Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (2013), pp. 33–34
  • O how great a benefit will result from this cause; how many, converted to penitence, have handed themselves over by service of the Crucified for the liberation of the Holy Land, as is by suffering martyrdom they have obtained the crown of glory, who would perhaps have perished in their iniquities entangled in carnal desires and earthly seductions. This is an old device of Jesus Christ that he deigned to renew in these days for the salvation of his faithful. .. Thus the King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought body and soul and other goods to you, will condemn you for the vice of ingratitude and the crime of infidelity if you should fail to aid him with the result that he lost his kingdom that he brought with the price of his blood.
    • Quia maior (April 1213) calling for the Fifth Crusade, quoted in Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell (eds.), Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (2013), p. 108
  • Know then that whoever denies aid to the Redeemer in this time of his need is culpably harsh and harshly culpable. For, also, insofar as, according to the divine command, he loves his neighbor as himself and for him, he knows that this brethren in faith and in the Christian name are imprisoned by the faithless Saracens in a cruel prison and endure the harsh yoke of slavery, he does not expend the efficacious work for their liberation, that the Lord spoke of in the Gospel. "Do to others whatever you wish them to do to you". Or perhaps you do not know that many thousands of Christians are held in prison and slavery by them and they suffer countless torments?
    • Quia maior (April 1213), quoted in Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell (eds.), Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (2013), p. 108
  • ...the Christian people possessed almost all the Saracen provinces until after the time of Saint Gregory. But after that time, a certain son of perdition, the pseudo-prophet Muhammad, arose, and he seduced many away from the truth with carnal enticements and pleasures. Even though his perfidy lasted until the present, still we trust in the Lord who has now made a good sign that the end of this beast, whose number, according to John's Apocalypse, counts 666, of which now almost six hundred years are completed approaches. ... Therefore, dearly beloved sons, changing dissensions and fratricidal jealousies into treaties of peace and goodwill, let us gird ourselves to come to the aid of the Crucified, not hesitating to risk property and life for him who laid down his life and shed his blood for us.
    • Quia maior (April 1213), quoted in Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell (eds.), Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (2013), pp. 108–109
  • As Cain was a wanderer and an outcast, not to be killed by anyone but marked with the sign of fear on his forehead, so the Jews ... against whom the voice of the blood of Christ cries out ... although they are not to be killed they must always be dispersed as wanderers upon the face of the earth.
  • Although Christian piety tolerates the Jews ... whose own fault commits them to perpetual slavery ... and allows them to continue with us (even though the Moors will not tolerate them), they must not be allowed to remain ungrateful to us in such a way as to repay us with contumely for favors and contempt for our familiarity. They are admitted to our familiarity only through our mercy; but they are to us dangerous as the insect in the apple, as the serpent in the breast * * * Since, therefore, they have already begun to gnaw like the rat, and to stink like the serpent, it is to our shame that the fire in our breast which is being eaten into by them, does not consume them * * * As they are reprobate slaves of the Lord, in whose death they evilly conspired (at least by the effect of the deed), let them acknowledge themselves as slaves of those whom the death of Christ has made free.
  • Although it be not displeasing to the Lord, but rather acceptable to Him, that the Jewish Dispersion should live and serve under Christian princes * * * they greatly offend in the sight of God’s Divine Majesty who prefer the offspring of the Crucifiers before those who are the heirs of Christ. * * * It has come to our knowledge that in the kingdom of France Jews have so much liberty that, under a species of usury — by which they not only extort interest, but interest from interest — they obtain control of the goods of the churches and the possessions of the Christians. * * * Furthermore, although it was decreed in the Lateran Council that Jews be not permitted to have Christian servants in their homes, either as tutors for their children or for domestic service, or for any reason whatsoever, they still persist in having Christians as servants and nurses, with whom they commit abominations of a kind which it rather becomes you to punish than us to explain. And again, although the same Council laid it down that the testimony of Christians against Jews is to be admitted, even when the former use Jewish witnesses against Christians, and decreed that in a case of this kind anyone who would prefer Jews before Christians is to be condemned as anathema, yet up to the present time things are so carried on in the kingdom of France that the testimony of Christians against Jews is not believed, whereas Jews are admitted as witnesses against Christians. And at times, when they to whom Jews have loaned money with usury produce Christian witnesses about the facts of payment, THE DEED WHICH THE CHRISTIAN DEBTOR THROUGH NEGLIGENCE INDISCREETLY LEFT WITH THEM IS BELIEVED RATHER THAN THE WITNESSES WHOM THEY BRING FORWARD. On Good Friday also, contrary to the law of old, they walk through the streets and public squares, and meeting Christians who everywhere according to custom go to adore the Crucifix, they deride them and strive to prevent them from this duty of adoration. We warn and exhort Your Serene Majesty in the Lord (adding the remission of your sins) that you force the Jews from their presumption * * * and see to it that due punishment be meted out to all such blasphemers, and that an easy pardon be not given to delinquents.

Quotes about Pope Innocent III[edit]

  • Crusading in general had Innocent's full support. War against the infidel was 'the battle of Christ', and he shared the conviction of his predecessors that the recovery of the Holy Places from Muslim rule was the special responsibility of the Pope.
    • Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (2006), p. 150
  • He was vigorous and able, good and clever, a right man at a most critical period for the coming of the XIIIth century was a time when the feudal structure, so indispensable, apparently, to the framework of the Church, was weakening before the formations of nationalism. ... He demanded and received universal allegiance, the papal dignity grew and no monarch could escape, if the occasion demanded, from the sting of his ire or the lash of his chastisement.
    • John Farrow, Pageant of the Popes (1943), pp. 153–155

External links[edit]

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