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Lucius III - A Holy Pontiff

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Ubaldus Allucingolus, who succeeded Alexander III, was born at Lucca probably in 1097. At any rate he was quite an old man when elected pope. His election, in contrast to Alexander's, was quiet. The cardinals were unanimous for Ubaldus. He took the name Lucius III. Ubaldus studied canon law at Pisa, took the Cistercian habit from St. Bernard, was made cardinalpriest by Innocent II, and cardinal-bishop by Eugenius III. He served on legations to the emperor at Constantinople and to the Norman court at Palermo. He had been a commissioner at the peace conference of Venice. Lucius, like so many medieval popes, had great trouble with Romans. The Romans, once more on the war path against Tusculum, had that city in a desperate condition when an appeal to Pope Lucius brought help.

The Pope first pleaded with the senate to show reasonableness--in vain. Then Lucius turned to that fighting archbishop, Christian of Mainz. Christian, a powerful Rhenish princebishop, advanced on Rome; but fever, the slayer of Germans, struck him down. To the Pope's consolation he died with the sacraments, sorry for his evil life. To the Pope's dismay, his death gave the Romans the upper hand and they used it brutally. They were especially hard on clerics who supported the Pope. On one raid they captured some clerics, blinded them all but one, and putting paper caps on their heads with the name of a cardinal written on each, they put the poor victims backward on asses and ordered the lone one left with sight to lead the pitiable procession to the Pope! Lucius excommunicated the brutes who had committed the outrage. Lucius went to Verona in 1184 to discuss outstanding problems with Emperor Frederick. Though the Peace of Constance had confirmed the Truce of Venice, there were two questions on which Pope and Emperor disagreed. One, a disputed episcopal election, was settled later. The other was of great importance.

Emperor Frederick had for some time been working to unite the imperial crown with that of Norman Sicily. Now his chance arrived and he succeeded in negotiating a marriage between his son and heir Henry and Constance who, though considerably older than Henry, was the heiress to the rich Norman dominions in Italy and Sicily. Pope Lucius opposed this marriage--as well he might, for in it was the germ of the terrible papacy- Hohenstaufen fight which rocked the thirteenth century, ruined the Hohenstaufens, and did no good to the papacy. The Pope and Emperor were in agreement on two other matters, repression of heresy and the need for a new crusade. Lucius ordered the bishops to hunt out heretics while Frederick put them under the ban of the Empire. While both agreed that a new crusade was necessary to check the might of Saladin, nothing was done until too late. Pope Lucius received letters from the Armenians asking him for help against Byzantine persecution. They claimed that they were orthodox and asked for instructions on the Roman discipline. Pope Lucius answered them most affectionately and sent them copies of the Roman liturgical books. Lucius III died at Verona on November 25,1185. His death interrupted the conference with the Emperor.


Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.

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