Pope Innocent II: A Papal “Great” Bull Signed by Him in 1138, Translated, with Signatures of 2 Future Popes,1 Anti-Pope & the Bulla

Pope Innocent II: A Papal “Great” Bull Signed by Him in 1138, Translated, with Signatures of 2 Future Popes,1 Anti-Pope & the Bulla

This is truly one of  the most astonishing artifacts to become part of this Collection.  Here are the facts connected to it and what it looks like unfolded.

It is reputed to be the second earliest papal signature outside of the Vatican.  This means it was owned in private hands and not in the Vatican.

I’m aware of only one earlier signature of a pope that is not housed at the Vatican.

Regarding the information in the translation of this Bull about the location of the land involved,

“The area would have looked very different in 1138  with very few buildings. The wall around the city near the Lateran would have been there, of course, and the Basilica of Santa Croce, too, which is mentioned, about 3/4 mile away.”

—–Father Richard Kunst, Curator

Father Richard Kunst is most grateful to Professor John Adams for his  expertise in the translation of this Papal Great Bull, as well as for several other artifacts on this website.  Here are links to his websites:

https://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/SV1159.html

https://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/SV1181.html

Innocent II: Great Bull
Innocent II Great Bull: Rota & Bene Valete Close up

The Bull, referred to as a, “Great Bull,”  was signed by him in 1138 and was also signed by the future popes Anastasius IV, Lucius II and the first Antipope Victor IV (there were two by that name).

A “Great Bulla” is a Privilegium (Solemn Privilege), which is the most solemn form of papal bull. In this Bulla, this “Solemn Privilege” is being extended to all the churches & properties listed.

 The lead bulla is included (featured above).  All bullae have cords from which they are strung and would be either silk or hemp–in this case, silk, since it is a “Solemn Privilege.”

Normally this would be in a diocese’s archives.

The Signatories of This Bull Who Became Future Popes

This ancient document is signed by Pope Innocent II and two cardinals who became future popes and one anti-pope.  They are:

Gherardo Caccianemici dal Orso, Pope Lucius II (1144-1145)

Corrado Demetri della Suburra, Pope Anastasius IV (1153-1154)

Gregory Conti, I Antipope Victor IV for two months in 1138 before submitting to Pope Innocent II  

It was also signed by many others, listed below.

The Symbols: The Rota & The Bene Valete

The Rota Symbol

Innocent II Great Bull: Rota & Bene Valete Close up
Innocent II: Rota Close up

(While signatures are often partly written by scribes and then signed with a symbol (the cross and/or snake in this bull) of the pope and cardinals, in this document there is so much difference among all of the names to be that of a scribe.) 

 

The Rota

The Rota (wheel–the round symbol) was used as a means of confirmation of a Privilege’s authenticity. This was first used as early as 1049. It is a cross with two concentric circles.  Pope Innocent II’s named is spelled in the bottom half and Saints Peter & Paul are in the upper two quadrants.

This placement mirrors the obverse side of the bulla attached to the document and forms a link between the Privilege and the seal. Note this image in the metal bulla above.

Each pope chooses a Biblical text and uses it as a motto during his entire pontificate. This motto, which is written between the two concentric circles of the rota, is called the device. The device should be unique to a pope, but there are examples of “recycling.” For example, some popes reuse an earlier pope’s motto.

Pope Innocent II’s motto: 

Adiuva nos Deus salutaris noster (Help us, God our salvation).

This is what is written between the circles.

A small cross is inscribed between the circles before the first word of the device. This cross is believed to be traced by the Pope himself as an additional confirmation.

The Rota is part of Pope Innocent II’s signature.  Next to it on the right is the name of the Pope, referred to as his “subscription.”  The whole of it, plus the snake at the end, is the Pope’s signature (along with the cross inside the round symbol).

The Pope’s Subscription Immediately Follows the Rota

The pope’s full subscription immediately follows the rota. This formulaic signature incorporates the pontiff’s name followed by the very stylized abbreviation (subscripsi):

Ego Innocentius Ecclesie Catholice Episcopus subscripsi
(“I, Innocent, bishop of the Catholic Church, have undersigned”)

This subscription is not entirely the pope’s autograph. Only the letter E in ego (or a portion of it) may have been traced by the pope and the rest attributed to a scribe.

The Bene Valete Monogram

Innocent II Great Bull: Rota & Bene Valete Close up
Innocent II Great Bull: Bene Valete Close up

 

Monogram: Bene Valete

To the right of the Pope’s subscription is a large monogram that spells Bene Valete (farewell). All necessary letters appear to spell the words fully, though some must be reused.

This farewell salutation was regarded as the equivalent of a signature.

The Columns of Cardinals

The three columns beneath the papal subscription contain the signatures of the three ranks of cardinals. Cardinal Priests in the left column, Cardinal Bishops in the middle, and Cardinal Deacons in the right. The subscriptions of the various Cardinals follow a similar formula to the papal subscription:

 

I, (NAME), Cardinal (RANK) of (TITULAR CHURCH), have undersigned.

I, Innocentius bishop of the catholic church subscribe.
I, Conrad bishop of Sabina, praising, subscribe.
I, Gudio bishop of Tibur.
I, Egidius, bishop of Tusculum.
I, Gregorius, cardinal priest of the title of Santi Apostoli.
I, Desiderius, cardinal priest of the title of Santa Prassede.
I, Petrus Pisanus, cardinal priest of the title of Santa Susanna.
I, Petrus, cardinal priest of the title of San Marcello
I, Comes, cardinal priest (of the title of S. Eudoxia [S. Pietro in Vincoli]).
I, Gerardus, cardinal priest of the title of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
I, Anselmus, cardinal priest of the title of Lucinae [San Lorenzo in Lucina].
I, Lucas, cardinal priest of the title of SS. Giovanni e Paolo.
I, Martinus, cardinal priest of the title of San Stefano in Monte Celio.
I, Griffo, cardinal priest of the title of Pastoris (Santa Pudenziana).
I, Gregorius, cardinal deacon of Saints Sergius and Bacchus.
I, Oddo, cardinal deacon of San Giorgio ad Velum aureum.
I, Guido, cardinal deacon of Santi Cosma e Damiano.
I, Guido, cardinal deacon of San Adriano.
I, Hubaldus, cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Via lata.
I, Vassallus, cardinal deacon of San Eustachio.
I, Grisogonus, cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Porticu.
I, Gregorius, cardinal deacon of Sant’ Angelo in Pescheria.
I, Gerardus, cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica.

The Complete English Translation of  this 1138 Great Bull

Professor John Adams

https://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/SV1159.html

https://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/SV1181.html

 

Innocent, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his dear son Silvius, custodian of the venerable guest-house which is situated next to the Lateran Palace, greeting and apostolic benediction.

It is agreeable to us to offer assent to (your) just pleas, and to tune our ears to your just petitions, we who, granted we are unworthy, are seen as custodians and heralds on high of justice, placed by God’s will, as reflections of Peter and Paul the leaders of the apostles. Therefore, Silvius, our beloved child in Christ, agreeing to your reasonable requests, in the same way as our predecessors of blessed memory Paschal II and Honorius II, Roman pontiffs, we confirm with this present document the guest house situated next to our Lateran Palace, which had been restored to the use of poor persons in the time of the aforesaid Paschal. We have decided that the same guest-house with all the property justly and legitimately belonging to it at the present time will remain in perpetual liberty, God willing; and that it not be subject in physical force or in law to anyone except us or our successors.

We confirm also to the same guest-house the chapel of S. Maria de Oblationario at the sepulture of the pilgrims, and all the adjacent land with the garden or olive orchard, from the bare rock below the palace to the road which leads to the Holy Cross, from the upper fork in the road to the walls of the city, and the garden between the guest-house and the walls of the city, and the land above the guest-house on the one side as far as the long wall, and on the other as far as the public road, and enclosed of the same land below the long wall five paces in length and four in width bounded behind by the house of Benincase; also three towers, nearest the wall of the city; one piece of vinyard next to the Porta S. Iohannes; three pieces on Monte Portatorio, five pieces in Calcotori; at the Porta Metrovi one piece; at the Porta Latina one piece; on Monte Cuppuli one piece.  In addition, in the place which is called “Spanorum” two pieces of land suitable for sowing, on the first side is the dry river, on the second side land belonging to San Clemente, on the third side land belonging to S. Maria de Pallara, on the fourth side land belonging to S. Paolo the Apostle. Moreover, whatever happens to be given and offered to the same guest-house in the future, God granting, will be preserved for it whole and undamaged.

We determine, therefore, that it is not permitted for any person whomsoever to rashly disturb that guest-house, to commit robberies there or assaults; or to carry off its possessions or to retain what they have carried off; to diminish or harass it by rash vexations; but all things should remain quiet and inviolate for it, and it should stand in the future for all sorts of services for pilgrims and the poor.

If, however, someone should attempt to violate this decree of ours, unless he corrects his presumption with a worthy satisfaction, let him know that he will incur the wrath of the Apostolic See.  And whoever takes care to truly favor this guest-house and those who serve in its domain, let him enjoy the grace of God Omnipotend and the Apostles. Amen. Amen. Amen.

I, Innocentius bishop of the catholic church subscribe.
I, Conrad bishop of Sabina, praising, subscribe.
I, Gudio bishop of Tibur.
I, Egidius, bishop of Tusculum.
I, Gregorius, cardinal priest of the title of Santi Apostoli.
I, Desiderius, cardinal priest of the title of Santa Prassede.
I, Petrus Pisanus, cardinal priest of the title of Santa Susanna.
I, Petrus, cardinal priest of the title of San Marcello
I, Comes, cardinal priest (of the title of S. Eudoxia [S. Pietro in Vincoli]).
I, Gerardus, cardinal priest of the title of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
I, Anselmus, cardinal priest of the title of Lucinae [San Lorenzo in Lucina].
I, Lucas, cardinal priest of the title of SS. Giovanni e Paolo.
I, Martinus, cardinal priest of the title of San Stefano in Monte Celio.
I, Griffo, cardinal priest of the title of Pastoris (Santa Pudenziana).
I, Gregorius, cardinal deacon of Saints Sergius and Bacchus.
I, Oddo, cardinal deacon of San Giorgio ad Velum aureum.
I, Guido, cardinal deacon of Santi Cosma e Damiano.
I, Guido, cardinal deacon of San Adriano.
I, Hubaldus, cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Via lata.
I, Vassallus, cardinal deacon of San Eustachio.
I, Grisogonus, cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Porticu.
I, Gregorius, cardinal deacon of Sant’ Angelo in Pescheria.
I, Gerardus, cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica.

Given at the Lateran, through the hands of Aimeric, cardinal deacon of the Holy Roman Church and Chancellor. June 21. Indiction I. Year 1138 of the Incarnation of the Lord. Ninth year of the pontificate of Lord Innocent second. 

 

  • Date July 25, 2022
  • Tags Antipope Victor IV, Pope Anastasius IV, Pope Innocent II, Pope Lucius II