The Bull of forgiveness
The parchment that contains the text of the plenary indulgence donated by pope Celestine V to the city of L’Aquila and to all the world is now preserved in the armoured chapel of the Civic Palace Tower in memory of the role played by the population and the civil authorities of L’Aquila: they protected the precious document from the attempt of destruction by Pope Boniface VIII, who wanted to erase the political and religious value of such a revolutionary document produced by his undesired predecessor.
The authenticity of the Bull of Forgiveness, called in question several times over the years, was finally confirmed by Pope Paul VI who promulgated a revised manual of indulgences in 1967 including the indulgence granted by Celestine V.
The text of the Bull
«Celestinus episcopus, servus servorum Dei, universis Christi fidelibus presentes litteras inspecturis, salutem et apostoli/cam benedictionem. Inter santorum solennia sancti Johannis Baptiste memoria eo est solennius honoranda, quo ipse de alve sterilis / matris procedens fecundus virtutibus, sacris eulogiis et facundus fons, apostolorum labium et silentium prophetarum, in terris Christi pre/sentiam, caliginantis mundi lucernam, ignorantie obtectis, tenebris, verbi preconio et indicis signo mirifico nuntiavit, propter quod eius / gloriosum martyrium mulieris impudice indictum intuitu misteraliter et secutum. Nos qui in ipsius Sancti decollatione capitis / in ecclesia sancte Marie de Collemayo Aquilensi, ordinis sancti Benedicti, suscepimus diadematis impositum capiti nostro insigne, / hymnis et canticis ac fidelium devotis oraculis cupimus venerabilius honorari. Ut igitur ipsius decollationis festivitas in dicta / ecclesia precipuis extollatur honoribus et populi Domini devota frequentia tanto devotius et ferventius honoretur, quanto inibi que/rentium Dominum supplex postulatio gemmas Ecclesie donis micantes spiritualibus sibi reperiet in eternis tabernaculis profuturas, omnes / vere penitentes et confessos qui a vesperis eiusdem festivitatis vigilie usque ad vesperas festivitatem ipsam immediate sequentes ad / premissam ecclesiam accesserint annuatim et omnipotentis Dei misericordia et beatorum Petri et Pauli apostolorum eius auctoritate / confisi a baptismo absolvimus a culpa et pena quam pro suis merentur commissis omnibus et delictis. Datum Aquile / III kalendas octobris, pontificatus nostri anno primo».
Il testo e della bolla è stato tratto da T.R. Mannetti, La Perdonanza di Collemaggio. Patrocinata dal Magistrato Aquilano, L’Aquila 1982, pp. 77-78.
Celestine, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, wishes health and gives the apostolic blessing to all the faithful who will consider this letter. Among the festivities that remember the saints more solemnly we should honor the memory of the most important one, St. John the Baptist, as he, although born from the womb of a sterile old-aged woman, was fruitful of virtue and sacred gifts. He was the voice of the Apostles and the silent prophets. Having concluded the prophets’ cycle and announced the presence of Christ on earth with the Logos (Word) and miraculous indications, he announced Christ as the light in the world’s fog and in the darkness of ignorance that wrapped the earth. For this reason, the Baptist followed the glorious martyrdom, mysteriously imposed by the will of a shameless woman by the task to her entrusted. We, that on the day of the beheading of Saint John, in the Benedictine church of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in Aquila, received the tiara on our head, want to give even more veneration to this saint, that should be honoured, with hymns, religious chants, and with devout prayers of the faithful. Therefore in this church, the feast of the beheading of St. John is enhanced with scheduled ceremonies celebrated by the devoted People of God, and more devoutly and fervently it shall be, as much in such church the request of those who search for God will find treasures of the church, as resplendent spiritual gifts, that will give benefit in the future life, fortified by the mercy of the Almighty God, and of the authority of his apostles, Saints Peter and Paul. On each annual recurrence, we absolve from guilt and punishment, as a result of all their sins committed since their Baptism, all those that sincerely repentant and confessed will have entered the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio from the vespers on the eve of St. John’s festivity until the vespers immediately after the festivity. Given in Aquila, September 29, of the first year of our pontificate.
La traduzione è stata curata dal prof. Alessandro Clementi.