Pope Urban V
|Papacy began||28 September 1362|
|Papacy ended||19 December 1370|
|Consecration||6 November 1362
by Cardinal Andouin Aubert
|Birth name||William de Grimoard|
Grizac, Languedoc, Kingdom of France
|Died||19 December 1370
Avignon, Papal States
|Beatified||10 March 1870|
|Papal styles of
Pope Urban V
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
Pope Urban V (Latin: Urbanus PP. V, Italian: Urbano V; 1310 – 19 December 1370), born William de Grimoard, was the head of the Catholic Church from 28 September 1362 to his death in 1370. He was the sixth Avignon Pope. He was saintly and learned, and widely admired.
He was born in 1310 in the Castle of Grizac in the French region of Languedoc (today part of the commune of Le Pont-de-Montvert, department of Lozère), the son of William de Grimoard, Lord of Bellegarde, and of Amphélise de Montferrand.
As a young man, Grimoard became a Benedictine monk in the small Priory of Chirac, near his home, which was a dependency of the ancient Abbey of St. Victor near Marseille, and he was sent there for his novitiate. After his profession of monastic vows, he was ordained a priest in his own monastery in Chirac. Showing great academic talent, he was then sent to the great universities of Europe, earning a doctorate in Canon Law. He became acclaimed as a foremost canonist of the age, himself teaching at Montpellier, Paris and Avignon. In August 1361 he was elected as the abbot of the Abbey of St. Victor.
In September 1362, Abbot William arrived in Avignon, returning from Naples, where he had been sent by Pope Innocent VI as papal legate, only to learn that the pope had died. At that time, a conclave was already being held to elect a successor to the recently-deceased pope. In a surprise move, on the 28th of that month he himself was elected Pope. He then took the name of Urban, the fifth pope with that name to rule the Church.
Grimoard was a compromise candidate who was elected due to the fact that none of the cardinals voting in the conclave wished to serve. He was not even a bishop at the time of his election, and had to be consecrated as one before his coronation. This was done on 6 November by Cardinal Andouin Aubert, the nephew of his predecessor. He served as the sixth pope in the Avignon Papacy.
Reformer and patron of education
Pope Urban introduced considerable reforms in the administration of justice and liberally patronized learning. He founded a university in Hungary. In Toulouse, he saved the university of music. In Montpellier, he restored the school of medicine there and founded the College of Saint Benedict, whose church, decorated with numerous works of art, later became the cathedral of the city. He founded colleges in Quézac and Bédouès, and a church and library in Ispagnac. He supported more than 1,000 students of all classes with food and lodging. Even during war they were nourished well. He provided them with books and the best professors. Around Rome, he also planted vineyards.
His pontificate witnessed one of the last flickers of crusading zeal in the Alexandrian and the Savoyard crusades, whereby Christian armies retook Alexandria and Gallipoli, respectively. He also sent many missions to Bosnia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and even China.
The great feature of Urban V's reign was the effort to return the papacy to Rome and to suppress its powerful rivals for the temporal sovereignty there. In 1363 he excommunicated Bernabò Visconti, the last great figure of Ghibellinism in northern Italy, who occupied the Papal city of Bologna and valiantly resisted the troops of Cardinal Gil de Albornoz, the Vicar of the Papal States at the time. Urban ordered a crusade to be preached throughout Italy against Visconti and his kindred, accused as robbers of the church's estate.
As Urban's greatest desire was that of a crusade against the Turks, however, he found it necessary to purchase peace in March of the following year. Thus, through the mediation of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, he lifted his ban against Visconti, obtaining Bologna only after he signed a hasty peace with Visconti that was highly favorable to him. The relentless work of Albornoz was capped after a decade of warfare and atrocity with the massacre of Cesena, a town faithful to the Papal cause whose entire population was executed by Papal forces while paving the way of Pope Urban to Rome in 1367.
To Rome and back
Continued troubles in Italy, as well as pleas from figures such as Petrarch and St. Bridget of Sweden, caused Urban to set out for Rome, which he reached on 16 October 1367. Although greeted by the clergy and people with joy, and despite the satisfaction of being attended by the Emperor in St. Peter's, and of placing the crown upon the head of the Empress, it soon became clear that by changing the seat of his government he had not increased its power. In Rome he was otherwise able to receive the homage of King Peter I of Cyprus, Queen Joan I of Naples and the Byzantine Emperor John V Palaeologus, and crowned Charles IV as Holy Roman Emperor.
Unable any longer to resist the urgency of the French cardinals, and with numerous cities of the Papal States in revolt, Urban boarded a ship at Corneto heading for France on 5 September 1370, arriving back at Avignon on the 24th of the same month. A few days later he fell severely ill. Feeling his death approaching, he asked that he might be moved from the Papal Palace to the nearby residence of his brother, Angel, whom he had made a cardinal, that he might be close to those he loved. He died there on 19 December 1370.
After his death, his canonization was demanded by King Valdemar IV of Denmark and promised by his successor, Pope Gregory XI, as early as 1375, but this did not take place owing to the disorders of the time. Urban's longstanding status as a beatus (Blessed) was confirmed by Pope Pius IX in 1870.
- Rendina, Claudio (1994). I papi. Storia e segreti. Rome: Newton Compton.
- From the 9th edition (1883) of an unnamed encyclopedia
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|Catholic Church titles|
28 September 1362 – 19 December 1370