Laughter in the Refectory: Saints & Sinners

Senator Matteo Rosso Orsini confined the cardi...

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The previously reviewed book on the history of the popes did provide some amusing moments.  The following was one of my favorites:  Duffy writes:  “His death [Pope Gregory IX, 1227-41] was the signal for the first formal papal Conclave, which rapidly turned into a nightmare.  The civil ruler of Rome, the Senator Matteo Orsini, determined to secure a strong and anti-imperial pope fast, had locked the ten cardinals then in Rome in the ancient Septizonium Palace, with armed guards to keep them inside.  No candidate could gain the required two-thirds majority, and as the crippling heat intensified the primitive lavatories overflowed, and one cardinal died.  In desperation they elected the elderly theologian Celestine IV:  he survived his election only seventeen days, however, and the terrified cardinals fled the city.”  (Eamon Duffy, Saint and Sinners, 2006, p. 153.)  I hope the passage is as funny in a blog as it was at table.

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