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Pope Honorius II

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(Lamberto Scannabecchi)

Born of humble parents at Fagnano near Imola at an unknown date ; died at Rome, 14 February, 1130. For a time he was Archdeacon of Bologna. On account of his great learning he was called to Rome by Paschal II, became canon at the Lateran, then Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prassede, and, in 1117, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Velletri. He was one of the cardinals who accompanied Gelasius II into exile. In 1119 Calistus II sent him as legate to Henry V, German Emperor, with powers to come to an understanding concerning the right of investiture. In October of the same year he was present at the Synod of Reims where the emperor was solemnly excommunicated by Callistus II. A great part of the following three years he spent in Germany, endeavouring to bring about a reconciliation between the pope and the emperor. It was chiefly through his efforts that the Concordat of Worms, the so-called "Pactum Calixtinum" was effected on 23 September, 1123. In this concordat the emperor renounced all claims to investiture with staff and ring, and promised liberty of ecclesiastical elections. When the concordat was signed by the emperor, the cardinal sang a solemn high Mass under the open sky near Worms. After the Agnus Dei he kissed the emperor, who then received Holy Communion from the hands of the cardinal and was in this manner restored to communion with the Church. Callistus II died on 13 December, 1124, and two days later the Cardinal of Ostia was elected pope, taking the name of Honorius II.

Party spirit between the Frangipani and the Leoni was at its highest during the election and there was great danger of a schism. The cardinals had already elected Cardinal Teobaldo Boccadipecora who had taken the name of Celestine II. He was clothed in the scarlet mantle of the pope, while the Te Deum was chanted in thanksgiving, when the proud and powerful Roberto Frangipani suddenly appeared on the scene, expressed his dissatisfaction with the election of Teobaldo and proclaimed the Cardinal of Ostia as pope. The intimidated cardinals reluctantly yielded to his demand. To prevent a schism Teobaldo resigned his right to the tiara. The Cardinal of Ostia however doubted the legality of his election under such circumstances and five days later informed the cardinals that he wished to resign. Only after all the cardinals acknowledged him as the legitimate pope could he be prevailed upon to retain the tiara. Soon after Honorius II became pope, Henry V, the German Emperor, died (23 May, 1125). The pope at once sent to Germany two legates who, in conjunction with Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz, endeavoured to bring about the election of a king who would not encroach upon the rights of the Church. The subsequent election of Lothair, Count of Supplinburg, was a complete triumph for the Church. The new king acknowledged the supremacy of the pope even in temporal affairs, and soon after his election asked for the papal approbation, which was willingly granted. Concerning investiture he made concessions to the Church even beyond the Concordat of Worms. When Conrad of Hohenstaufen rose up in opposition to Lothair and was crowned King of Italy at Monza, by Archbishop Anselm of Milan, Honorius II excommunicated the archbishop as well as Conrad and his adherents, thus completely frustrating Conrad's unlawful aspirations.

Henry I, King of England, had for many years encroached on the rights of the Church in England and would not allow a papal legate to enter his territory on the plea that England had a permanent papal legate ( legatus natus ) in the person of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Callistus II had already experienced difficulties in that line. In 1125 Honorius II sent Cardinal John of Crema as legate to England, but the legate was detained a long time in Normandy by order of Henry I. He was finally permitted to proceed to England. He went thence to Scotland and met King David at Roxburgh, where he held a synod of Scottish bishops to inquire into the controversy between them and the Archbishop of York, who claimed to have metropolitan jurisdiction over them. On 8 September he convened a synod at Westminster at which the celibacy of the clergy was enforced and decrees were passed against simoniacal elections and contracts. On his return to Rome he was accompanied by William, Archbishop of Canterbury who obtained legatine faculties for England and Scotland from Honorius II, but was unsuccessful in his attempt to prevail upon the pope to surrender his right of sending special legates to England. At the request of the King of Denmark, Honorius II also sent a legate thither to put a stop to the abuses of the clergy in that country.

The pope was less successful in his dealings with Count Roger of Sicily, who tried to gain possession of the lands which his deceased cousin William of Apulia had bequeathed to the Apostolic See. Honorius II placed him under the ban and took up arms against him in defence of the lawful property of the Church, but without avail. To put an end to a useless but costly war he made Roger feudatory Lord of Apulia in August, 1128, while Roger in his turn renounced his claims to Benevento and Capua. Shortly after his election to the papacy Honorius II excommunicated Count William of Normandy for having married a daughter of Fulco of Anjou within the forbidden degree. He likewise restored the disturbed discipline at the monasteries of Cluny and Monte Cassino where the excommunicated Abbots Pontius and Orderisius respectively retained possession of their abbatial office by force of arms. On 26 February, 1126, he approved the Premonstratensian Order which St. Norbert had founded at Prémontré six years previously. His letters and diplomas (112 in number) are printed in P.L., CLVI, 1217-1316.

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