Pope Honorius III

detail of a stained glass window depicting the approval of the Franciscans by Pope Honorius III; Church of San Domenico, Siena, Italy, date and artist unknown; photographed on 21 September 2016 by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Cencio Savelli


Canon of Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome, Italy. Papal chamberlain in 1188. Cardinaldeacon of Santa Lucia church, Silice in 1193. Cardinalpriest of Santa Giovanne et Paolo church. Tutor to the future emperor Frederick II. Reluctant pope.

He worked for recovery of the Holy Land to Christendom. He preached a Crusade, insisting that all the clergy donate a percentage of their income to the cause for three years to finance it. Many volunteered for service, but since the European powers were constantly at war, these volunteers included old men, women, children, criminals, and others ill-suited for combat. They set sail in 1217 and had some success, but the lack of troops, lack of leadership, and lack of unity among the leaders led to failure. Frederick II, who had sworn to fight in 1217 but hadn’t, agreed to lead the next Crusade. He obtained a series of postponements from Honorius, who crowned him Holy Roman Emperor on 22 November 1220, and finally sailed in August 1227.

Honorius sanctioned the Dominican order on 22 December 1216. The citizens of Rome rebelled against constant work for the Crusade, and he fled the city for Rieti, Italy in June 1219, and then to Viterbo, Italy, returning to Rome in September 1220 when Frederick II suppressed the revolt. Honorius sanctioned the Franciscans on 29 November 1223. Many of the tertiary orders were developed during his pontificate. In June 1225 he was forced to flee to Rieti again, returning in January 1226 when the political situation quieted.

To further the cause of the Crusade, Honorius worked as peace maker throughout Europe. He reconciled the warring cities of Pisa and Genoa in 1217, Milan and Cremona in 1218, Bologna and Pistoia in 1219. He obtained the return of papal territory from several cities and duchies of the region, caused the landed barons to recognize Henry III as king of England, and crowned Peter of Courtenay as emperor of Constantinople on 12 April 1217. He safeguarded the rights of the Church against the crown in Bohemia and Sweden, and ended a rebellion aginst King Andrew II of Hungary by threatening the rebels with excommunication. He obtained the freedom of King Waldemar of Denmark in 1224, and protected Emperor Robert of Constantinople and King Demetrius of Thessalonica against Theodore Comnenus. He settled conflicts in Cyprus between the Greeks and the Latins, and in Spain he brought peace between King Ferdinand III and King Alfonso IX of Leon. Supported a crusade against the Moors in 1218 to 1219, and protected King Jaime of Aragon. Defended archbishop Estevo Suarez against King Alfonso II, and called for Crusade against the Prussian pagans in 1222 and the heretical Albigensians in 1226. He approved the Carmelite Order on 30 January 1226, set minimum levels of education and training for his bishops, and supported the University of Paris and University of Bologna.


Papal Ascension


Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Honorius III“. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 January 2019. Web. 25 September 2021. <>