Papal conclave, 1294

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Papal conclave
December 1294
Sede vacante.svg
Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
Dates and location
23–24 December 1294
Castel Nuovo, Naples
Key officials
Dean Gerardo Bianchi
Camerlengo Tommaso d'Ocra
Protopriest Benedetto Caetani
Protodeacon Matteo Rosso Orsini
Ballots 1
Elected Pope
Benedetto Caetani
Name taken: Boniface VIII
Bonifatius viii papst.jpg

The papal conclave of December 23–24, 1294 was convoked in Naples after the resignation of Pope Celestine V on 13 December 1294. Celestine V had only months earlier restored the Constitution Ubi periculum of Pope Gregory X, which had been suspended by Pope Adrian V in July 1276. From that time every papal election has been a papal conclave. It is the first papal conclave held during the lifetime of the preceding pontiff, the second such occurrence taking place in 2013 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Abdication of Celestine V[edit]

Castel Nuovo, where the conclave was held

Celestine V, founder of the Order of Celestines, widely esteemed and venerated for his holiness, was elected to the papacy on July 7, 1294, as a compromise choice after an over two-years long sede vacante. It quickly became clear that this saintly eremite was wholly incompetent and unsuited for a job as pope. Admitting his own incompetence soon after his election, Celestine expressed the wish to abdicate and return to his solitary cave in the Abruzzi Mountains. However, before doing so he issued two bulls. The first bull established the regulations concerning the abdication of a pope. The second bull (Quia in futurum, September 28, 1294) restored the constitution Ubi periculum, which established the papal conclave; the constitution had been suspended by Pope Adrian V in July 1276. During his short papacy, he also created 13 new cardinals.[1] Eventually, on December 13, 1294, Celestine V abdicated the papacy at Naples,[2] three days after confirming the restoration of the institution of the papal conclave.[3]

It has been widely stated that the alleged great influence of the ambitious Cardinal Benedetto Caetani and the pressure he applied on Celestine V were important factors in Celestine's decision to abdicate, but it seems nearly as certain that it was an entirely voluntarily step of the Pope, with the role of Caetani limited to participation in the solution of the legal problems connected with the resignation of a pope. In particular, there were doubts whether a pope could resign at all, and who would be authorized to accept such a resignation.[4]

List of participants[edit]

All 22 living cardinals participated in the conclave; 12 of them were created by Celestine V, five by Nicholas IV, two by Nicholas III, one by Urban IV and one by Honorius IV:[5] Hugh Aycelin, also known as Hughes of Billom, of the French province of the Dominican Order, former lector at the studium of Santa Sabina in Rome, was made Cardinal-Bishop of the suburbicarian see of Ostia in 1294; as Bishop of Ostia he had the right to ordain and consecrate the new bishop of Rome, Pope Boniface VIII. The consecration and coronation took place on 23 January 1295.[6]

Elector Place of birth Cardinalatial title Elevated Elevator Other ecclesiastical titles Notes
Gerardo Bianchi Parma Bishop of Sabina March 12, 1278 Nicholas III Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Giovanni Boccamazza Rome Bishop of Frascati December 22, 1285 Honorius IV Nephew of Honorius IV; former archbishop of Monreale (1278—1286)
Hugh Aycelin, O.P. Billom, France Bishop of Ostia e Velletri May 16, 1288 Nicholas IV
Matteo d'Acquasparta, O.F.M. Acquasparta Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina May 16, 1288 Nicholas IV Grand penitentiary Former minister general of the Order of Franciscans (1287—1289)
Simon de Beaulieu Château de Beaulieu, France Bishop of Palestrina September 18, 1294 Celestine V Former archbishop of Bourges (1281—1294)
Bérard de Got Villandraut, France Bishop of Albano September 18, 1294 Celestine V Former archbishop of Lyon (1289–1294); older brother of Bertrand de Got – future Pope Clement V (1305–1314)
Benedetto Caetani Anagni Priest of SS. Silvestro e Martino April 12, 1281 Nicholas III Protopriest of the Sacred College of Cardinals; Cardinal-protector of the Order of S. Guglielmo Elected Pope Boniface VIII
Pietro Peregrosso Milan Priest of S. Marco May 16, 1288 Nicholas IV Cardinal-protector of the Order of Humiliati; Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Tommaso d'Ocra, O.Cel. Ocre, Abruzzi Priest of S. Cecilia September 18, 1294 Celestine V Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
Jean Lemoine Crécy, France Priest of SS. Marcellino e Pietro September 18, 1294 Celestine V
Pietro d'Aquila, O.S.B.Cas. L'Aquila Priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme September 18, 1294 Celestine V
Guillaume de Ferrières Provence Priest of S. Clemente September 18, 1294 Celestine V Crown-cardinal of King Charles II of Naples
Nicolas de Nonancourt Nonancourt, France Priest of S. Marcello[7] September 18, 1294 Celestine V
Robert de Pontigny, O.Cist. France Priest of S. Pudenziana September 18, 1294 Celestine V Crown-cardinal of kings Philip IV of France and Charles II of Naples; former Abbot General of his order
Simon de Armentières, O.S.B.Clun. France Priest of S. Balbina September 18, 1294 Celestine V
Giovanni Castrocoeli, O.S.B.Cas. Castrocielo Priest of S. Vitale September 18, 1294 (or October 1294) Celestine V Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church; archbishop of Benevento; administrator of the see of Sant'Agata de' Goti
Matteo Rosso Orsini Rome Deacon of S. Maria in Portico May 22, 1262 Urban IV Protodeacon of the Sacred College of Cardinals; archpriest of the patriarchal Vatican Basilica; Cardinal-protector of the Order of Franciscans Relative of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini Frangipani and nephew of Pope Nicholas III (1277–1280); not to be confused with his grandfather, Senator Matteo Rosso Orsini (1178–1246)
Giacomo Colonna Rome Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata March 12, 1278 Nicholas III Archpriest of the patriarchal Liberian Basilica Uncle of Cardinal Pietro Colonna
Napoleone Orsini Frangipani Rome Deacon of S. Adriano May 16, 1288 Nicholas IV Relative of Cardinal Matteo Orsini Rosso and nephew of Pope Nicholas III (1277–1280)
Pietro Colonna Rome Deacon of S. Eustachio May 16, 1288 Nicholas IV Nephew of Cardinal Giacomo Colonna
Landolfo Brancaccio Naples Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria September 18, 1294 Celestine V
Guglielmo de Longhi Bergamo Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere September 18, 1294 Celestine V

Election of Pope Boniface VIII[edit]

On December 23, 1294, the cardinals assembled in the Castel Nuovo at Naples for the election of the successor of Celestine V. On the next day, Christmas Eve, Cardinal Benedetto Caetani received the required two-thirds majority and took the name of Boniface VIII. Caetani's nephew, who was an eyewitness, says that Caetani was elected after one scrutiny and an accessio: scrutinio accessioneque eligitur.[8] Soon after his election he returned to Rome, where on January 23, 1295, he was consecrated to the episcopate by Cardinal Hugh Aycelin of Ostia, and crowned by Matteo Rosso Orsini, who was prior Diaconorum of the Sacred College.[9]


  1. ^ Salvador Miranda: Cardinals created by St. Celestine V
  2. ^ Celestine V
  3. ^ Salvador Miranda: The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Guide to the events and documents, 13th Century
  4. ^ (The Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Boniface VIII)
  5. ^ F. Burkle-Young[unreliable source?]: notes to the papal election of 1294 on The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church (by S. Miranda); and K. Eubel, p. 11–12. F. Bourkle-Young lists one additional cardinal Francesco Ronci, priest of the title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, as the only absentee but he actually died on October 13, 1294, two months before the conclave was held (K. Eubel, p. 12)
  6. ^ "Frater Hugo de Bidiliomo provincie Francie, magister fuit egregius in theologia et mul<tum> famosus in romana curia; qui actu lector existens apud Sanctam Sabinam, per papam Nicolaum quartum eiusdem ecclesie factus cardinalis" [16.V.1288]; postmodum per Celestinum papain [1294] est ordinatus in episcopum ostiensem (Cr Pg 3r). Accessed May 9, 2011; See also Rome Across Time and Space: Cultural Transmission and the Exchange of Ideas, 2011, p. 275. Accessed 7-10-2011
  7. ^ F. Burkle-Young lists Cardinal Nicolas l'Aide as priest of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, but he opted for that title only in 1295. At the time of this conclave he occupied his original title of S. Marcello (K. Eubel, p. 43)
  8. ^ A. Theiner (ed.), Caesaris Baronii Annales Ecclesiastici Tomus 23 (Bar-le-Duc 1871), under year 1294, § 23, p. 147; Ludovico Antonio Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores III pp. 616-617. There was another candidate (Matteo Rosso Orsini ?), according to Jacopo Caetani Stefaneschi, but Benedetto Caetani had a majority (but not the required two-thirds majority) on the first ballot. That would mean that at the scrutiny Caetani had at least twelve votes, but not the required fifteen. Several cardinals agreed to support him after the results of the ballot were announced.
  9. ^ S. Miranda: Cardinal Benedetto Caetani (Pope Boniface VIII)


Konrad Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi, volumen I, 1913

F. Burkle-Young: notes to the papal election of 1294 (The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church by S. Miranda)

The Catholic Encyclopedia: Celestine V

The Catholic Encyclopedia:Boniface VIII