Saint of the Day – 22 June – Blessed Pope Innocent V OP (c 1225-1275) Bishop of Rome and Ruler of the Papal States from 21 January to 22 June 1276 (the date of his death), Friar of the Order of Preachers, Theologian, renowned Preacher, Scholar, Writer, Dominican Office bearer, disciple of St Albert the Great and collaborator and friend of St Thomas Aquinas.and St Bonaventure. He acquired a reputation as an effective preacher. He held one of the two “Dominican Chairs” at the University of Paris, the other being held by St Albert the Great and was instrumental in helping with the compilation of the “program of studies” for the Order. In 1269, Peter of Tarentaise was Provincial of the French Province of Dominicans. He was a close collaborator of Blessed Pope Gregory X, who named him Bishop of Ostia and raised him to Cardinal in 1273. Upon the death of Gregory in 1276, Peter was elected Pope, taking the name Innocent V. He died about five months later but during his brief tenure facilitated a peace between Genoa and King Charles I of Sicily. Innocent V was Beatified on 9 March 1898 by Pope Leo XIII. Born in c 1225 at Tarentaise, Burgundy, France as Petrus a Tarentasia and died on 22 June 1276 at Rome, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Doctor famosissimus, Petrus a Tarentasia, Peter of Tarentaise.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Rome, Blessed Innocent V, Pope who laboured with mildness and prudence, to maintain liberty for the Church and harmony among Christians. The veneration paid to him. Pope Leo XIII approved and confirmed.”
Petrus a Tarentasia, was barely 10 years old when he was admitted to the Dominican Order by Blessed Jordan of Saxony as a boy-novice and sent to Paris to study. Like Saint Thomas Aquinas, Blessed Ambrose of Siena and other luminaries of the 13th century, he fell under the masterly tutelage of Saint Albert the Great.
He received his Master’s Degree in theology in 1259, then he taught for some years in Paris, where he contributed a great deal to the Order’s reputation for learning. He wrote a number of commentaries on Scripture and the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard but he devoted most of his time to the classroom. He soon became famous as a preacher and theologian, and in 1259, with a committee including his friend Thomas Aquinas, composed a plan of study that is still the basis of Dominican teaching.
At age 37, Peter began the long years of responsibility in the various offices he was to hold in his lifetime as Prior Provincial of France. He visited ,on foot, all Dominican houses under his care and was then sent to Paris to replace Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris. Twice Provincial, he was chosen Archbishop of Lyons in 1272 and administered the affairs of the Diocese for some time, though he was never actually Consecrated for that See.
The next year Peter was appointed Cardinal-Archbishop of Ostia, Italy, while still administering the See of Lyons. With the great Franciscan, Saint Bonaventure, he assumed much of the labour of the Council of Lyons, to which Saint Thomas was hastening at the time of his death. To the problems of clerical reform and the healing of the Greek schism the two gifted Friars devoted their finest talents. Before the Council was over, Bonaventure died, and Peter of Tarentaise preached the funeral panegyric.
In January 1276, Peter was with Blessed Pope Gregory X when the latter died at Arezzo. The conclave was held in the following month. On 21 January, 1276, Peter of Tarentaise received every vote except his own. With a sad heart, he left the seclusion of his religious home to ascend the Fisherman’s Throne as Pope Innocent V.
The reign of the new Pope, which promised so much to a harassed people, was to be very brief. But, imbued with the spirit of the Apostles, he crowded a lifetime into the short space given him.
He instigated a new crusade against the Saracens and began reforms in the matter of regular observance. He actually succeeded in solving many of the questions of the Greek schism and in establishing a short-lived truce. He struggled to reconcile the Guelphs and Ghibellines, restored peace between Pisa and Lucca and acted as mediator between Rudolph of Hapsburg and Charles of Anjou. He restored the custom of personally assisting at choral functions with the canons of the Lateran and he inspired all, with the love that animated his heart.
Had the measures begun by Innocent V had time to be fully realised, he might have accomplished great good for the Church; he did at least open the way for those who were to follow him.
Death stopped the hand of the zealous Pope when he had reigned only five months. Like his friends Saint Thomas and Saint Bonaventure, he was untouched by the honours and dignity with which he had been favoured and death found him exactly what he had been for more than 40 years–a simple, humble Friar.