Gelasius II
Bishop of Rome
Posthumous drawing of Gelasius II, 16th century
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy began24 January 1118
Papacy ended29 January 1119
PredecessorPaschal II
SuccessorCallixtus II
Ordination9 March 1118
Consecration10 March 1118
Created cardinalSeptember 1088
by Urban II
Personal details
Giovanni Caetani

Died(1119-01-29)29 January 1119
Cluny, Duchy of Burgundy, Kingdom of France
Previous post(s)
Other popes named Gelasius

Pope Gelasius II (c. 1060/1064 – 29 January 1119), born Giovanni Caetani or Giovanni da Gaeta (also called Coniulo),[1] was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 January 1118 to his death in 1119. A monk of Monte Cassino and chancellor of Pope Paschal II, Caetani was unanimously elected to succeed him. In doing so, he also inherited the conflict with Emperor Henry V over investiture. Gelasius spent a good part of his brief papacy in exile.


Early life

He was born between 1060 and 1064 at Gaeta into the Pisan branch of the Caetani family, and he became a monk of Monte Cassino.[2] Pope Urban II, who wished to improve the style of papal documents, brought him to Rome and made Caetani a papal subdeacon (August 1088) and cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (probably on 23 September 1088). As chancellor of the Holy Roman Church from 1089 to 1118, he drastically reformed the papal administration, establishing a permanent staff of clerks for the papacy, overcoming the previous custom of relying on Roman notaries to write papal documents, and introducing the minuscule curial script. His tenure also established the precedent of the papal chancellor always being a cardinal and holding the office for life or until elected pope.[citation needed]


Shortly after his unanimous election to succeed Pope Paschal II in 1118, he was seized by Cencio II Frangipane, a partisan of Emperor Henry V, but was freed by a general uprising of the Romans on his behalf.[3][2]

Henry V sought to enforce the privilege of investiture conceded (and later revoked in 1112) by the papacy, under duress, by Paschal II. He drove Gelasius II from Rome in March 1118, pronounced his election null and void, and set up Maurice Bourdin, Archbishop of Braga, as antipope under the name of Gregory VIII.[2]

Gelasius II fled to Gaeta, where he was ordained a priest on 9 March 1118 and on the following day received episcopal consecration. He at once excommunicated Henry V and the antipope and, under Norman protection, was able to return to Rome in July. But the disturbances of the imperialist party, especially those of the Frangipani, who attacked the Pope while celebrating Mass in the church of St. Prassede, compelled Gelasius II to go once more into exile. He set out for France, consecrating the cathedral of Pisa on the way, and arrived at Marseille in October. He was received with great enthusiasm at Avignon, Montpellier and other cities, held a synod at Vienne in January 1119, and was planning to hold a general council to settle the investiture contest when he died at the Abbey of Cluny.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Pham, John-Peter (2004). Heirs of the Fisherman. Oxford University Press. p. 12. ISBN 9780195178340.
  2. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHayes, Carlton Joseph Huntley (1911). "Gelasius s.v. Gelasius II.". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 554.
  3. ^ Loughlin, James. "Pope Gelasius II." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 25 December 2017


Catholic Church titles Preceded byPaschal II Pope 1118–19 Succeeded byCallixtus II