Sunday 6 February 2011

Papal Bull of Pope Innocent III

Members may be interested in this Papal Bull, dated June 8, 1216, promulgated by Pope Innocent III (1160-1216). The manuscript on vellum concerns the rights of the Order, and was donated to Washington State College, U.S.A., by the Friends of the Library in 1951.

(The following is quoted from the documentation by Paul Philemon Kies accompanying the papal bull, on file in Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections)

"This bull was executed at Perugia (Italy), where the great Pope died only thirty-eight days later (July 16, 1216). It confirms the rights and property of the order of St. Lazarus, which 'was a religious and military order founded in Jerusalem about 1150 A.D. Its primary object was the tending of the sick, especially lepers, of whom Lazarus was regarded as the patron saint. In the 13th century the order made its way into various countries of Europe--Sicily, Lower Italy, Germany, and esp. France. In 1253, Louis IX gave the members the lands of Boigny near Orleans and a building at the gates of Paris, which they turned into a lazar-house for the use of the lepers of the city. A papal confirmation was obtained from Alexander IV in 1255.' (Ency. Brit.)

"Being dated June 8, 1216, the present bull seems to indicate an earlier papal confirmation than at present known to historians. The particular house whose possessions and rights were confirmed by this document evidently was at Caen, France--if the first word of the second line (an abbreviation) is correctly interpreted as 'Caenensis.'

"Because some of the words are practically obliterated and abbreviations are freely used, this document was hard to decipher. Special thanks are due to Dr. F. F. Potter and Prof. Louis McNew for assistance in the task."

INNOCENTIUS, episcopus, servus servorum Dei, dilectis filiis, magistro et fratribus domus leprosariae Sancti Lazari a cruce

Caenensis, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem. Cum a nobis petitur quod iustum est et honestum tam vigor aequitatis

quam ordo exigit rationis, ut id per sollicitudinem officii nostri ad debitum perducatur effectum. Eapropter, dilecti in Domino filii, vestris iustis precibus inclinati, personas et domum vestram cum omnibus bonis quae impraesentiarum rationabiliter possidetis aut infuturum iustis modis praestante Domino poteritis adipisci sub beati Petri et nostra protectione suscipimus. Specialiter autem possessiones et alia bona vestra sicut ea omnia iuste ac pacifice possidetis, vobis et per vos eidem domui vestrae auctoritate apostolica confirmamus, et praesentis scripti patrocinio communimus. Nulli ergo omnino hominum liceat hanc paginam nostrae protectionis et confirmationis infringere vel ei ausu temerario contraire. Si quis autem hoc attemptare praesumpserit, indignationem omnipotentis Dei et beatorum Petri et Pauli apostolorum eius, se noverit incursurum.

Datum Perusii vi idus Junii pontificatus nostri Anno Nonodecimo

INNOCENT, bishop, servant of the servants of God, [sends] greetings and the apostolic blessing to the beloved sons, the abbot and brothers of the leper house of St. Lazarus of the Cross at Caen [?]. Since a thing just and honorable is asked of us, not only the power of justice but also the order of reason demands that it be led to its proper conclusion through the care of our office. Wherefore, beloved sons in the Lord, being swayed by your just prayers, we take under the protection of St. Peter and ourselves your persons and your house with all the goods which you reasonably possess or in the future will be able to possess in a just manner in the presence of God. And especially the possessions and all your other goods such as you possess justly and peacefully we confirm to you and through you to your house by our apostolic authority, and we fortify this confirmation with the protection of the present document. Let it be permitted to no man to violate or, in rash daring, to act contrary to this page of our protection. If anyone, however, will presume to attempt this, he will know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of Blessed Peter and Paul, His apostles.

Given at Perugia on the 8th day of June in the 19th year of our pontificate [1216].