Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(Paolo Scolari).

Date of birth unknown; elected 19 December, 1187; d. 27 March, 1191. During the short space (1181-1198) which separated the glorious pontificates of Alexander III and Innocent III, no less than five pontiffs occupied in rapid succession the papal chair. They were all veterans trained in the school of Alexander, and needed only their earlier youthful vigour and length of reign to gain lasting renown in an age of great events. Gregory VIII, after a pontificate of two months, died on 17 December, 1187, at Pisa, whither he had gone to expedite the preparations for the recovery of Jerusalem ; he was succeeded two days later by the Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina, Paolo Scolari, a Roman by birth. The choice was particularly acceptable to the Romans; for he was the first native of their city who was elevated to the papacy since their rebellion in the days of Arnold of Brescia, and his well-known mildness and love of peace turned their thoughts towards a reconciliation, more necessary to them than to the pope. Overtures led to the conclusion of a formal treaty, by which the papal sovereignty and the municipal liberties were equally secured; and in the following February Clement made his entry into the city amid the boundless enthusiasm of a population which never seemed to have learned the art of living either with or without the pope.

Seated in the Lateran, Pope Clement turned his attention to the gigantic task of massing the forces of Christendom against the Saracens. He was the organizer of the Third Crusade ; and if that imposing expedition produced insignificant results, the blame nowise attaches to him. He dispatched legates to the different courts, who laboured to restore harmony among the belligerent monarchs and princes, and to divert their energy towards the reconquest of the Holy Sepulchre. Fired by the example of the Emperor Barbarossa and of the Kings of France and England, a countless host of Christian warriors took the road which led them to Palestine and death. At the time of Clement's death, just before the capture of Acre, the prospects, notwithstanding the drowning of Barbarossa and the return of Philip Augustus, still seemed bright enough.

The death of the pope's chief vassal, William II of Sicily, precipitated another unfortunate quarrel between the Holy See and the Hohenstaufen. Henry VI, the son and successor of Barbarossa, claimed the kingdom by right of his wife Constanza, the only legitimate survivor of the House of Roger. The pope, whose independence was at an end, if the empire and the Two Sicilies were held by the same monarch, as well as the Italians who detested the rule of a foreigner, determined upon resistance, and when the Sicilians proclaimed Tancred of Lecce, a brave but illegitimate scion of the family of Roger, as king, the pope gave him the investiture. Henry advanced into Italy with a strong army to enforce his claim; an opportune death reserved the continuation of the contest to Clement's successor, Celestine III . By a wise moderation Clement succeeded in quieting the disturbances caused by contested elections in the Dioceses of Trier in Germany and St. Andrews in Scotland. He also delivered the Scottish Church from the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of York and declared it directly subject to the Holy See. Clement canonized Otto of Bamberg, the Apostle of Pomerania (d. 1139), and Stephen of Thiers in Auvergne, founder of the Hermits of Grammont (d. 1124).


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 15:1-4
1 And I saw in heaven another sign, great and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 7-8, 9
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:12-19
12 'But before all this happens, you will be seized ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 26th, 2014 Image

St. John Berchmans
November 26: Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at Diest, Brabant. He ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter