Pope Nicholas III
Nicholas III Papacy began November 25, 1277 Papacy ended August 22, 1280 Predecessor John XXI Successor Martin IV Personal details Birth name Giovanni Gaetano Orsini Born ca. 1210/1220
Died August 22, 1280
Viterbo, Papal States
Other Popes named Nicholas Papal styles of
Pope Nicholas III
Reference style His Holiness Spoken style Your Holiness Religious style Holy Father Posthumous style None
Pope Nicholas III (Rome, 1210/1220 – August 22, 1280), born Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, Pope from November 25, 1277 to his death in 1280, was a Roman nobleman who had served under eight Popes, been made cardinal-deacon of St. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano by Pope Innocent IV (1243–54), protector of the Franciscans by Pope Alexander IV (1254–61), inquisitor-general by Pope Urban IV (1261–64), and succeeded Pope John XXI (1276–77), largely through family influence, after a six-month vacancy in the Holy See.
Nicholas' brief pontificate was marked by several important events. A born politician, he greatly strengthened the papal position in Italy. He concluded a concordat with Rudolph I of Habsburg (1273–91) in May 1278, by which the Romagna and the exarchate of Ravenna were guaranteed to the Pope. According to the chronist Bartholomew of Lucca he discussed with Rudolph, in general terms at least, splitting the German Empire into four separate kingdoms - Lombardy, Burgundy, Tuscia and Germany, where Rudolph's kingdom would be made hereditary in addition to himself becoming emperor. In July 1278 Nicholas III issued an epoch-making constitution for the government of Rome, which forbade foreigners taking civil office.
Nicholas' father had been a personal friend of Francis of Assisi, and he himself had to focus much of his attention on the Franciscan order. He issued the Papal bull Exiit qui seminat on August 14, 1279 to settle the strife within the order between the parties of strict and loose observance. He repaired the Lateran Palace and the Vatican at enormous cost, and erected a beautiful country house at Soriano near Viterbo, where he died of a cardiovascular event (the sources differ on whether it was a heart attack or a stroke).
Nicholas III, though a man of learning noted for his strength of character, was known for his excessive nepotism. He elevated three of his closest relatives to the cardinalate, and gave others important positions. This nepotism was lampooned both by Dante and in contemporary cartoon depicting the Pope in his fine robes and three "little bears" (orsatti) hanging on below, a pun on the family name. His alleged discussions with king Rudolph could be interpreted as an attempt to found principalities for his nephews and other relations.
After his death, his namesake Giovanni Gaetano Orsini was appointed a cardinal by Pope John XXII.
Portrayal in The Inferno
Dante in The Inferno (of the Divine Comedy) talks briefly to Pope Nicholas III, who was condemned to spend eternity in the Third Bolgia of the Eighth Circle of Hell, reserved for those who committed Simony, the ecclesiastical crime and personal sin of paying for offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church. In Dante's story, the Simoniacs are placed head-first in holes, flames burning on the soles of their feet (Canto XIX). In these pits, Nicholas III was the chief sinner, which is demonstrated by the height of the flames on his feet. At first he mistakes Dante for Pope Boniface VIII. When the confusion is cleared up, Nicholas informs Dante that he foresees the damnation (for simony) of not only Boniface VIII but Pope Clement V, an even more corrupt pope, as well.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Catholic Church titles Preceded by
Catholic ChurchOrganizations, Papacy, Teachings and Liturgical Traditions History Hierarchy Theology Sacraments Mariology Doctors of
the ChurchAlbertus Magnus · Ambrose · Anselm of Canterbury · Anthony of Padua · Thomas Aquinas · Athanasius of Alexandria · Augustine of Hippo · Basil of Caesarea · Bede · Robert Bellarmine · Bernard of Clairvaux · Bonaventure · Petrus Canisius · Catherine of Siena · Peter Chrysologus · John Chrysostom · Cyril of Alexandria · Cyril of Jerusalem · Peter Damian · Ephrem the Syrian · Francis de Sales · Gregory of Nazianzus · Gregory the Great · Hilary of Poitiers · Isidore of Seville · Jerome · John of Damascus · John of the Cross · Lawrence of Brindisi · Leo the Great · Alphonsus Maria de Liguori · Teresa of Ávila · Thérèse of Lisieux
Pope Benedict XVI Preceding Popes Orders and
Vatican II Particular Churches
Liturgical TraditionsAlexandrian · Coptic · Ethiopic · Antiochian · Maronite · Syriac · Syro-Malankara · Armenian · Armenian · Byzantine · Albanian · Belarusian · Bulgarian · Croatian · Greek · Hungarian · Italo-Albanian · Macedonian · Melkite · Romanian · Russian · Ruthenian · Slovak · Ukrainian · East Syrian · Chaldean · Syro-Malabar · Latin · Roman · Anglican Use · Sarum · Ambrosian · Mozarabic
History of the Catholic Church General
History of the Catholic Church · History of the Papacy · History of the Roman Curia · Catholic Ecumenical Councils · Timeline of the Catholic Church · History of Christianity · Role of the Catholic Church in Western civilization · Art in Roman Catholicism · Catholic religious order · Christian monasticism · Papal States
Church beginnings Constantine the Great to
Pope Gregory I
Constantine the Great and Christianity · Arianism · Basilica of St. John Lateran · First Council of Nicaea · Pope Sylvester I · First Council of Constantinople · Biblical canon · Jerome · Vulgate · First Council of Ephesus · Council of Chalcedon · Benedict of Nursia · Second Council of Constantinople · Pope Gregory I · Gregorian chant
Early Middle Ages High Middle Ages
Pope Urban II · Investiture Controversy · Crusades · First Council of the Lateran · Second Council of the Lateran · Third Council of the Lateran · Pope Innocent III · Latin Empire · Francis of Assisi · Fourth Council of the Lateran · Inquisition · First Council of Lyon · Second Council of Lyon · Bernard of Clairvaux · Thomas Aquinas
Late Middle Ages Protestant Reformation/
Baroque Period to the
19th century 20th century
Pope Pius X · Our Lady of Fátima · Persecutions of the Catholic Church and Pius XII · Pope Pius XII · Pope Pius XII Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary · Dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary · Pope John XXIII · Second Vatican Council · Pope Paul VI · Pope John Paul I · Pope John Paul II
21st century By country or region
Brazil · Cuba · France · Germany · Hispano-America · Ireland · Japan · Mexico · Spain · United States · Venezuela
- Pope Nicholas III at NewAdvent.org Catholic Encyclopedia
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Pope Nicholas III — Pope Nicholas III † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope Nicholas III (GIOVANNI GAETANI ORSINI) Born at Rome, c. 1216; elected at Viterbo, 25 November, 1277; died at Soriano, near Viterbo, 22 August, 1280. His father, Matteo Rosso, was of … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope Callistus III — Pope Callistus III † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope Callistus III Born near Valencia in Spain, 31 December, 1378; died at Rome, 6 August, 1458. Alfonso de Borja (Ital. Borgia), as he was known before he became pope, came of a noble… … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope Sergius III — Pope Sergius III † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope Sergius III Date of birth unknown; consecrated 29 Jan., 904; d. 14 April, 911. He was a Roman of noble birth and the son of Benedict. He became a strong upholder of the party opposed to… … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope Victor III — Victor III Papacy began May 24, 1086 Papacy ended September 16, 1087 Predecessor … Wikipedia
Pope Alexander III — Alexander III Papacy began September 7, 1159 Papacy ended August 30, 1181 Predecessor Adrian IV … Wikipedia
Pope Clement III — Clement III Papacy began December 19, 1187 Papacy ended March 20, 1191 Predecessor Gregory VIII … Wikipedia
Pope Callixtus III — Infobox Pope English name=Calixtus III birth name=Alfonso de Borja term start=April 8, 1455 term end=August 6, 1458 predecessor=Nicholas V successor=Pius II birth date=birth date|1378|12|31|mf=y birthplace= Xàtiva, València, Spain dead=dead|death … Wikipedia
Pope Benedict III — Infobox Pope English name=Benedict III birth name=??? term start=September 29, 855 term end=April 17, 858 predecessor=Leo IV successor=Nicholas I birth date=??? birthplace=Rome, Italy dead=dead|death date=death date|858|4|17|mf=y deathplace=???… … Wikipedia
Pope Nicholas IV — Nicholas IV Papacy began February 22, 1288 Papacy ended April 4, 1292 Predecessor Honorius IV Successor … Wikipedia
Nicholas III — Pope Nicholas III † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope Nicholas III (GIOVANNI GAETANI ORSINI) Born at Rome, c. 1216; elected at Viterbo, 25 November, 1277; died at Soriano, near Viterbo, 22 August, 1280. His father, Matteo Rosso, was of … Catholic encyclopedia