Today is the 635th anniversary of the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378. It was to prove an event which can be seen as marking a significant historic landmark in the history of the Papacy and of later medieval Europe.
Pope Gregory XI - a later portrait now in the Palace of the Popes in Avignon
St Catherine of Siena and Pope Gregory XI
Painting of circa 1460/61 by Giovanni di Paolo (1403-1482)
Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid
He was the second of the Avignonese Popes to return to Rome, his predecessor Pope Urban V having lived there from 1367 until 1370 when he returned to Avignon and died shortly afterwards.
Pope Gregory XI returns to Rome in 1377
A detail from a painting by Girolamo di Benvenuto (1470-1525) in the Hospital of Santa-Maria della Scala Siena
However Pope Gregory died on this day in 1378. This was to set in motion the events that led to the Great Schism of that year, as I will show in future posts. It is not clear if Gregry might. like Urban V before him have returned to Avignon, but his death in Rome and subsequent events bled to the return of the papacy to its historic base, even if that was not firmly re-established until after 1447.
A reproduction in the Papal Palace at Avigon of the tomb of Pope Gregory XI in Rome
There is an online life of Pope Gregory here, and there are also online lives of his cousins the brothers Pierre de Murat de Cros and Jean de Murat de Cros, which give further insights into the era. Pope Gregory XI was to be the last French occupant to date of the Papacy.
The arms of Pope Gregory XI