Bulla of Gregory IX

This little object was found in the garden of the old Vicarage on Lancaster’s Castle Hill. It is a 'bulla' or seal from Pope Gregory IX, who must have sent some official correspondence to the Priory at Lancaster. Gregory (1170-1241) was a pretty vile Pope, so he blended in rather well with his Catholic colleagues.

In 1233, he established the Papal Inquisition, that vicious organisation which tortured, maimed and killed countless people for ‘heresy’. Although they regularised the prosecutions and perhaps ironed-out some irregularities, this further tarred the Papacy as a source of coercion and terror. He also formally adopted perpetua servitus iudaeorum- the servitude of the Jews, which gave governments official sanction for their mistreatment and discrimination against Abraham’s physical descendants. Even contemporaries within the Roman Church declared him to be evil. Archbishop von Truchsees of Salzburg, for example, declared that Gregory was "that man of perdition, whom they call Antichrist, who in his extravagant boasting says, 'I am God, I cannot err', stating:

A little horn has grown up with eyes and mouth speaking great things, which is reducing three of these kingdoms –  Sicily, Italy, and Germany – to subserviency, is persecuting the people of Christ and the saints of God with intolerable opposition, is confounding things human and divine, and is attempting things unutterable, execrable.

The Papacy today is different, of course. Today it smiles when once it grimaced. Today it waves when once it tortured. Today it brings peace and hope when once it brought terror and shame.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Cor. 11:14

Image by manfred Kindlinger from Pixabay