Frangipani had forcibly thrust their candidate into the papal throne in the
person of Honorius, their rivals, the Pierleoni, were ready to take over on the
death of Honorius. But they had a big difficulty. Their candidate, Peter
Pierleone himself, although formerly a monk of Cluny and now a cardinal, was not
noted for his ecclesiastical character. And so when his faction openly prepared
to put the eager Pierleone on the throne of Peter, the alarmed cardinals made an
agreement to entrust the election to a committee of eight. This committee
elected Cardinal Gregory Papareschi of St. Angelo, who took the name Innocent
The Pierleoni refused to give in, and other cardinals of their faction elected
Peter, who took the name Anacletus II. The Church was faced by a schism.
Innocent had to fly from Rome to France, but if Rome rejected him, the Church
did not. To his support rallied the two most respected and powerful
personalities in Europe, St. Bernard and St. Norbert, and in their train came
the Emperor and the kings of France and England; Roger of Sicily was the only
great ruler to support Anacletus. After the death of Anacletus, the schism
fizzled out. Though Roger set up another antipope, he soon submitted.
Innocent II was a man of high character against whom even his enemies had
nothing to say. Indeed it was his excellent reputation in contrast to that of
Anacletus which had moved St. Bernard to support him so vigorously. A Roman of
the Trastevere district, Innocent had become a monk and then abbot and was made
cardinal by Blessed Urban II. He had served with distinction at the Council of
Worms. Much could be expected from such a pope, but political difficulties
plagued Innocent. His greatest achievement was the general council held at the
Lateran in 1139. Here over 500 bishops and abbots passed a series of reform
decrees which confirmed those of St. Gregory VII. But the clash of arms
distracted the Pope during much of his reign. Innocent had taken stern measures
against Anacletus and his followers. He had even proclaimed a crusading
indulgence for those who would fight against that arch supporter of the schism,
Roger of Sicily. But Roger had his revenge.
The Pope, in a dispute over Capua, advanced with an army against the Normans.
The armies clashed on the Garigliano with disastrous results for Innocent. The
Pope and his whole court were taken prisoner by the redoubtable Roger! Roger,
like Robert Guiscard with St. Leo IX, treated the Pope deferentially, but he
made Innocent confirm the royal title which Anacletus had given him. On his part
he agreed to hold the Kingdom of Sicily as a fief from the Pope. Innocent gave
Rome good government and beautiful churches. But the Romans proved ungrateful.
Because the Pope tried to moderate their vengeance against Tivoli, the Romans
revolted and set up a republic. In the midst of all this turmoil, Innocent II
died on September 24, 1143.
Excerpted from "Popes
Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.