Marco’s Italy – Rome. Exactly How Many Popes Have Resigned?
February 22, 2013 by TravelsAcrossItaly
St. Peter;’s Basilica
Many readers have asked about the recent announcement regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.
Confusion reigns about how many popes have, indeed, resigned. In response to inquiry, and with research into church records, here is a summary of those who have voluntarily left their office.
•Pope Gregory VI – 1046
This is a particularly interesting story. The pope resigned his position to get married. By the time the ‘pope’ got to his inamorata, she had changed her mind.Gregory returned to Rome where, in his absence, the conclave had elevated Benedict IX as pope.
Gregory went to battle with Benedict IX and, after the intervention of Henry III of France, Pope Gregory VI was placed back on the Papal throne.
•Pope Celestine V – 1294
Celestine was a Sicilian by birth and, after being elevated to the papacy, decided that he wished to enjoy a purer life, to get away from the ‘perverseness of the people’, he returned to his home town in Sicily where he spent the rest of his days.
•Pope Gregory XII – 1415
Gregory XII, born in Venice, resigned in 1415 in the midst of three claimants to the throne. His agreement to leave the papacy ended the Western Schism. At the Council of Constance, the leaders of the church excommunicated the pope in Avignon, as well as yet another anti-pope. Forty years after the divide in the church, his resignation brought long needed settlement to the years of unsettled church leadership.
So, as Pope Benedict XVI resigns, he joins a rather select group of other church leaders who have, for very mixed reasons, voluntarily resigned from the papacy.