Providence seems to have selected Rome for the location of the papacy. Prior to
Christianity, Rome was the "metropolis of the world". The Roman Pontius Pilate
Jesus to death, and both
St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred in Rome. The pagan Roman empire would
eventually fall and be replaced by the Holy Roman Empire. In fact, the Vatican
is literally "built on St. Peter" (St. Peter's basilica is built directly over
the tomb of St. Peter). As St. Thomas Aquinas said...
"To manifest his
power still more effectively, [Christ] ordained that the head of his Church
should be in Rome itself, the capital of the world, as a sign of his complete
victory and that thence faith should spread to the whole world"
Note that St. Peter,
the first pope, had set up his episcopal chair in Rome years before his
martyrdom there (cf. Acts 12:17, "another place"). Also note that recent
excavations have confirmed the burial location of St. Peter under the altar at
St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
St. Peter went there, the papacy has always has been in Rome, except for a
period of about seventy years in the fourteenth century, when the papacy was
moved to Avignon, France. This time period may be referred to the 'Avignon
Papacy refers to the period of time in the 14th century (1309-1377) where the
papacy was moved from Rome to Avignon France. Pope Clement V moved the papacy
under imperial pressure, beginning the seventy year 'Babylonian Captivity'
(referring to Israel's exile) which lasted until the papacy was returned to Rome
by Pope Gregory XI on January 17, 1377. There were a total of 7 Popes during
this period: Pope Clement V, Pope John XXII (XXI), Pope Benedict XII, Pope
Clement VI, Pope Innocent VI, Pope Bl. Urban V, and Pope Gregory XI.
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