And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. John 16:2b-3
On July 16, 1216, the misnamed Pope Innocent III died at the age of 55 or 56. Innocent III, born Lotario dei Conti di Segni, succeeded Celestine III on the papal throne in 1198, and became one of the most influential popes in history, using interdicts and other measures to assert his power and influence over European secular rulers. He initiated the Fourth Crusade in 1198, which was intended to attack Jerusalem, but was diverted, and resulted in the sacking of Constantinople in 1204.
Pope Innocent III was responsible for the persecution of real Christians, and regarded the highlight of his papacy to be the slaughter of the inhabitants of the French town of Béziers on July 22, 1209. It's unknown exactly how many people were murdered in Béziers, but the number has been put at 20,000 and even as high as 60,000. Pope Innocent III died suddenly in the central Italian town of Perugia, and was succeeded as pope by Honorius III.
It came as a surprise to this blogger to discover that Pope Innocent III has been honoured in the form of a bas-relief in the United States Capitol. According to the Architect of the Capitol site:
Innocent III (1161-1216) Medieval pope. Student of canon and civil law, who, like Gregory IX, preserved the remnants of Roman law during the Dark Ages.From Me & Pope Innocent III, a post on the blog of America: The National Catholic Review, published July 27, 2009:
Marble, 28" dia.
The 23 marble relief portraits over the gallery doors of the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol depict historical figures noted for their work in establishing the principles that underlie American law. They were installed when the chamber was remodeled in 1949-1950.
...Yesterday, recalling the papacy of Innocent III, I seemed to remember that his image appears in bas-relief in the U.S. Capitol. And, so it does, in the House of Representatives chamber alongside the bas-reliefs of other great lawgivers in Western civilization. Nor is his the only papal sculpture in the House chamber. Innocent’s nephew, Pope Gregory IX, is also accorded a place among the law-givers. The next time you or your family is visiting the imperial city, be sure to look for these two Catholic additions to our otherwise secular republican temple...Among the comments on that post was the following, by an anonymous commenter on July 28, 2009:
I teach some Humanities classes and let my students who live in a dominantly anti-Catholic evangelical culture that the Catholic Church by Divine Providence took the best of the Greek-Roman Natural Law principles and "married " them with Genesis, Sinai and Calvary to give us Western Civilization based on the sacredness of Human Life. They are surprised and amazed when I tell them the Founders' " all are created equal and endowed with inaleinable rights by their Creator " is a Natural Law thesis developed in that Catholic civilization. That is why those Popes are honored with Moses and Hammarubi as " Authors and Doctors of Law" ...It should be noted that the Roman Catholic Church has never apologized for the Béziers massacre, or any other similar atrocity committed on the directives of popes down through the centuries. Indeed, all the popes are to be regarded as the Vicars of Christ, regardless of how un-Christlike their character and reign. That the Butcher of Béziers is equated with "Western Civilization based on the sacredness of Human Life" speaks volumes as to the deception that characterizes the Roman Catholic Church.