Pope Eugene III

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Blessed Pope
Eugene III
B Eugen III.jpg
Papacy began 15 February 1145
Papacy ended 8 July 1153
Predecessor Lucius II
Successor Anastasius IV
Ordination 1135
by Pope Innocent II
Consecration 18 December 1145
Personal details
Birth name Bernardo
Born 1080[1]
Pisa, Republic of Pisa, Holy Roman Empire
Died (1153-07-08)8 July 1153
Tivoli, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Previous post Abbot of San Anastasio alle Tre Fontane (1140–45)
Feast day 8 July
Venerated in Catholic Church
Title as Saint Blessed
Beatified 28 December 1872
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Pius IX
Other popes named Eugene
Papal styles of
Pope Eugene II
Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style Blessed

Pope Eugene III (Latin: Eugenius III; c. 1080 – 8 July 1153), born Bernardo da Pisa, was Pope from 15 February 1145 to his death in 1153. He was the first Cistercian to become Pope. In response to the fall of Edessa to the Muslims in 1144, Eugene proclaimed the Second Crusade. The crusade failed to recapture Edessa, which was the first of many failures by the Christians in the crusades to recapture lands won in the First Crusade.

He was beatified on 28 December 1872 by Pope Pius IX on the account of his sanctity.


Early life[edit]

Bernardo was born in Pisa. Little is known about his origins and family except that he was son of a certain Godius.[2] From the 16th century he is commonly identified as member of the family of Paganelli di Montemagno, which belonged to the Pisan aristocracy, but this has not been proven and contradicts earlier testimonies that suggest he was a man of rather humble origins.[3] In 1106 he was a canon of the cathedral chapter in Pisa and from 1115 is attested as subdeacon.[4] 1133–1138 he acted as vicedominus of the archdiocese of Pisa.[5]

Between May 1134 and February 1137 he was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Innocent II, who resided at that time in Pisa.[6] Under the influence of Bernard of Clairvaux he entered the Cistercian Order in the monastery of Clairvaux in 1138. A year later he returned to Italy as leader of the Cistercian community in Scandriglia. In Autumn 1140, Pope Innocent II named him abbot of the monastery of S. Anastasio alle Tre Fontane outside Rome.[7] Some chronicles indicate that he was also elevated to the College of Cardinals,[8] but these testimonies probably resulted from a confusion because Bernardo is not attested as cardinal in any document and from the letter of Bernard of Clairvaux addressed to the cardinals shortly after his election clearly appears that he was not a cardinal.[9]

Papal election[edit]

Bernardo was elected pope in February 1145, the same day as the death of his predecessor Lucius III,[10] and took the pontifical name of "Eugene III". He owed his elevation partly to the fact that no one was eager to accept an office the duties of which were at the time so difficult and dangerous and because the election was "held on safe Frangipani territory".[11]

His election was assisted by being a friend and pupil of Bernard of Clairvaux, the most influential ecclesiastic of the Western Church and a strong assertor of the pope's temporal authority. The choice did not have the approval of Bernard, however, who remonstrated against the election, writing to the Curia:

"May God forgive you for what you have done! ... What reason or counsel, when the Supreme Pontiff was dead, made you rush upon a mere rustic, lay hands upon him in his refuge, wrest from his hands the axe, pick or hoe, and lift him to a throne?"[12]

However, after the choice was made, Bernard took advantage of the qualities in Eugene III which he objected to, so as to virtually rule in his name.


The episcopal consecration of Pope Eugene III

During nearly the whole of his pontificate, Eugene III was unable to reside in Rome. Hardly had he left the city to be consecrated in the monastery of Farfa (about 40 km north of Rome), when the citizens, under the influence of Arnold of Brescia, the great opponent of the Pope's temporal power, established the old Roman constitution, the Commune of Rome and elected Giordano Pierleoni to be Patrician. Eugene III appealed for help to Tivoli, Italy, to other cities at feud with Rome, and to King Roger II of Sicily (who sent his general Robert of Selby), and with their aid was successful in making such conditions with the Roman citizens as enabled him for a time to hold the semblance of authority in his capital. But as he would not agree to a treacherous compact against Tivoli, he was compelled to leave the city in March 1146. He stayed for some time at Viterbo, and then at Siena, but went ultimately to France.

On hearing of the fall of Edessa (now the modern day city of Urfa) to the Turks, which occurred in 1144, he had, in December 1145, addressed the bull Quantum praedecessores to Louis VII of France, calling on him to take part in another crusade. At a great diet held at Speyer in 1146, King of the Romans Conrad III and many of his nobles were also incited to dedicate themselves to the crusade by the eloquence of Bernard.

Eugene III held synods in northern Europe at Paris,[13] Rheims (March 1148),[14][15] and Trier in 1147[16] that were devoted to the reform of clerical life. He also considered and approved the works of Hildegard of Bingen. In June 1148, Eugene III returned to Italy and took up his residence at Viterbo. He fled to Prince Ptolemy's fortress in Tusculum on 8 April 1149 and remained there, where he met the returning Crusader king Louis VII of France and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. He stayed there until 7 November. At the end of November 1149, through the aid of the King of Sicily, he was again able to enter Rome, but the jealousy of the republicans soon compelled him to retire (June 1150).

The death of Pope Eugene III

The Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa had promised to aid him against his revolted subjects, but the death of Eugene III at Tivoli, on 8 July 1153, prevented the fulfillment of the engagement. Though the citizens of Rome were jealous of the efforts of Eugene III to assert his temporal authority, they were always ready to recognize him as their spiritual lord. Besides that, they deeply reverenced his personal character. Accordingly, he was buried in the Vatican with every mark of respect, and his tomb soon acquired an extraordinary fame for miraculous cures.


The people of Rome were quick to recognize Eugene III as a pious figure who was meek and spiritual. His tomb acquired considerable fame due to the miracle purported to have occurred there and his cause for sainthood commenced. Pope Pius IX beatified him in 1872.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Horn, p. 35.
  2. ^ Horn, p. 31.
  3. ^ J. M. Brixius, Die Mitglieder des Kardinalkollegiums von 1130–1181, Berlin 1912, p. 86; Eugenio III. Horn, p. 33–34, has rejected the attribution of this familiar denomination to Eugene III as completely unfounded.
  4. ^ Horn, p. 34–35.
  5. ^ Horn, p. 34.
  6. ^ Horn, p. 35–36.
  7. ^ Horn, p. 36–40.
  8. ^ On that ground Brixius, p. 41 no. 7, lists him among the cardinals created by Innocent II.
  9. ^ Horn, p. 42–45.
  10. ^ NORWICH, JOHN JU (2012). The Popes: A History. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099565871. 
  11. ^ NORWICH, JOHN JU (2012). The Popes: A History. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099565871. 
  12. ^ NORWICH, JOHN JU (2012). The Popes: A History. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099565871. 
  13. ^ J.-D. Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, editio novissima Tomus XXI (Venice: A. Zatta, 1776), pp. 707-712. Carl Joseph Hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux Tome V, première partie (Paris: Letouzey 1912), pp. 812-817.
  14. ^ Mansi, pp. 711-736.
  15. ^ P. Jaffe, Regesta pontificum Romanorum, II (Leipzig: Veit 1888), pp. 52-53.
  16. ^ Mansi, pp. 737-738. Hefele, pp. 821-822.


  • Original text from the 9th edition (1879) of an unnamed encyclopedia. Original referred to him as Eugene – modified to match spelling on Popes list. Please update article as needed.
  • M. Horn, Studien zur Geschichte Papst Eugens III.(1145–1153), Peter Lang Verlag 1992
  • Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, On Consideration, (addressed to Pope Eugene III), George Lewis, trans., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1908.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Lucius II
Succeeded by
Anastasius IV