The Catholic Defender: Blessed Urban V Story
Pope Urban was born as Guillaume de Grimoard in 1310, in a southern province of France—Languedoc—to a noble family.
n 1327, when he was only seventeen, Guillaume entered the Benedictines at their small priory of Chirac, which was a daughter community of the well-established and highly revered Abbey of St. Victor near Marseille, where he later became abbot.
In 1352, Pope Clement VI asked for Abbot Guillaume’s assistance in managing the many conflicts in Italy that were plaguing the papacy. Guillaume later transferred this expertise in managing conflict into his work as Papal Nuncio to Italy.
Guillaume was still stationed in Italy as Papal Nuncio when Clement’s successor, Pope Innocent VI, died in September of 1362. Guillaume and twenty other cardinals flocked to Avignon to participate in the conclave. Guillaume, however, arrived at the conclave late, delayed in the journey from Italy to Avignon.
He arrived at Marseilles on 28 Oct., entered Avignon three days later, and was consecrated on 6 November, taking the name of Urban because, as he said, "all the popes who had borne the name had been saints". The general satisfaction which this election aroused was voiced by Petrarch, who wrote to the pope, "It is God alone who has chosen you".
In 1362, the man elected pope declined the office.
A Benedictine monk and canon lawyer, he was deeply spiritual and brilliant. He lived simply and modestly, which did not always earn him friends among clergymen who had become used to comfort and privilege. Still, he pressed for reform, and saw to the restoration of churches and monasteries.
introduced considerable reforms in the administration of justice, and liberally patronised learning. He founded the University of Hungary. In Toulouse, he saved the university of music.
Blessed Pope Urban V was a dynamic and charismatic leader of the Church during the tumultuous fourteenth century. He was the sixth of the seven legitimate popes who were based in Avignon rather than in Rome.
The great feature of Urban V's reign was the effort to restore the Papacy to Italy, and to suppress its powerful rivals for the temporal sovereignty there.
When the cardinals could not find another person among them for that important office, they turned to a relative stranger: the holy person we honor today.
The new Pope Urban V proved a wise choice. A Benedictine monk and canon lawyer, he was deeply spiritual and brilliant. He lived simply and modestly, which did not always earn him friends among clergymen who had become used to comfort and privilege.
Still, he pressed for reform, and saw to the restoration of churches and monasteries. Except for a brief period he spent most of his eight years as pope living away from Rome at Avignon, seat of the papacy from 1309, until shortly after his death.
Urban came close, but was not able to achieve one of his biggest goals—reuniting the Eastern and Western churches.
As pope, Urban continued to follow the Benedictine Rule. Shortly before his death in 1370, he asked to be moved from the papal palace to the nearby home of his brother, so he could say goodbye to the ordinary people he had so often helped.
the breakout of war between England and France forced him to return to Avignon on a peacekeeping mission
His reign in Rome was short-lived. The French Cardinals begged him to return to France, and in September 1370, Urban V returned to Avignon. In December of 1370, Urban V died at the home of his brother, Cardinal Angelic de Grimoard, surrounded by those he loved.
It is said that as he lay dying he called the people to surround his deathbed, saying “the people must see how popes die.”
He also contributed a great deal to education. He gave papal consent in 1364 to the university in Kraków that Polish King Casimir III the Great founded, which is commonly known as Jagiellonian University. One of Jagiellonian University’s many renowned students was the future Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyła.
Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked. Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain Christ. Wear his cross as your badge. If you are killed your sins will be pardoned.
Blessed Pope Urban V, who sailed the Barque of Peter through stormy seas and turbulent times—pray for us!