Saint of the Day – 12 December – Saint Pope Callistus II (c 1065-1124) Bishop of Rome 1 February 1119-13 December 1124) Born in c1065 Quingey, France as Guy or Guido and died on 13 December 1124 in Rome, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Calixtus II, Guy of Burgundy, Guido of Burgundy.
Guy or Guido in Italian, as he was called before his elevation to the Papacy, was the son of Count William of Burgundy and both by his father’s and mother’s side, was closely connected with nearly all the Royal Houses of Europe. He was the uncle of the Queen of France, cousin of the King of England, related to the German Emperor. His brother Hugh had been appointed Archbishop of Besançon and he himself was named Archbishop of Vienne in 1088 and afterwards appointed Cardinal and Papal Legate in France by Pope Paschal II.
When appointed Papal Legate in France by Pope Paschal II, Guido strenuously opposed Paschal’s “Privilege,” extorted by Henry V, which would have surrendered most of the political positions held by Church officials in the Empire. After protesting the “Privilege” at the Lateran Synod of 1112, he called and presided over a Synod of French and Burgundian Bishops at Vienne, which denounced lay investiture of the clergy as heretical and excommunicated Henry V as hostile to the welfare of the Church. When Gelasius II, who succeeded Pascal, refused to confirm the “Privilege,” the angry Henry V set up Archbishop Burdinus of Braga as antipope Gregory VIII and installed him in Rome. Gelasius was forced to spend his brief, harassed Pontificate in exile and died at Cluny within a year. Some of the Cardinals who had come to Cluny now elected Guido, who was crowned in Vienne on 1 February 1119.
Callistus took immediate steps to establish peace with the imperial government, since both sides were tired of the long investiture struggle. Henry V favourably received a Papal Embassy and temporarily withdrew his support from Gregory VIII. A meeting between Pope and Emperor was arranged.
After presiding over a Synod at Toulouse (1119), which was mainly concerned with reform of the French Church, Callistus proceeded to Reims, where he held a great Council (1119), attended by some 400 Prelates and by Louis VI of France. Negotiations with Henry V broke down after he came to Mousson with a large army and Papal plans to meet with the Emperor were abandoned. The Emperor was excommunicated again (October 1119).
Callistus then went to Rome, where he was enthusiastically received by the people, who had meanwhile driven out the antipope. He allied himself with the Normans, who aided in the capture of antipope Gregory VIII. Gregory, who had taken refuge at Sutri, was held prisoner and subsequently other enemies of the Pope in Italy were overcome too.
Callistus then sent a new embassy to Henry V. A preliminary understanding with a truce was arranged at Würzburg in 1121. The following year, the famous Concordat of Worms (1122) was arrived at, in a Synod held in that City. Because of the Pope’s patience and perseverance, the Concordat was a reasonably satisfactory arrangement for both sides, although a complete victory for neither, bringing peace to both Empire and Church, to the great relief of Christendom.
The First Lateran Council (1123), convoked by Callistus, solemnly confirmed the Concordat of Worms and issued Decrees against clerical marriage and simony. It provided penalties against violators of the Truce of God and against forgers of Ecclesiastical documents and renewed Indulgences for crusading.
During his Pontificate, Callistus also secured from Henry I of England, the acceptance of his candidate, Thurstan, for the Archbishopric of York, transferred metropolitan rights in Spain from the ancient See of Merida to the popular See of Santiago de Compostela and settled the old French rivalry over metropolitan disagreements between Aries and Vienne, in favour of the latter.
Callistus died in 1124 and after some dispute Honorius II was selected as his successor. As to the great influence of the reign of Callistus II on the policy of the Church, there can be no dispute. Owing mainly to him ,the concessions so weakly made by Pope Paschal II were recalled and on his own accession to the Papal throne, his firmness and strength of character secured a settlement of the controversy between Church and State which, although not entirely satisfactory, was at least sufficient to assure a much needed peace.
Through his exertions he put an end to the wholesale bestowal of Ecclesiastical offices by laymen; he re-established the freedom of canonical elections and secured recognition of the principle that Ecclesiastical jurisdiction can come, only from the Church, while on the other hand, he conceded to the secular authorities, the influence to which they were rightly entitled, in the election of Prelates who were at the same time the most powerful and richest subjects of the State.
Callistus II was not very remarkable for his literary productions, yet a few works have come down to us which are ascribed to his pen. They are: “De Miraculis Sancti Jacobi Apostoli,” “De obitu et Vita Sanctorum,”,”Vita Caroli Magni Imperatoris.” Many letters attributed to him are preserved.