Today in Catholic History – Pope Urban V returns to Rome

On 16 October 1367, Pope Urban V returned the see of the papacy from Avignon to Rome.

Urban had been urged to return to Rome by Petrarch and St. Bridget of Sweden, but he also hoped that a return to Rome would help restore the status of the Papal States. His decision to leave Avignon met with great opposition from the French cardinals who feared the loss of their influence as well as the departure from one of the richest cities of Europe to one that had fallen on very hard times.

When Urban returned to Rome, he was met with great hopes and expectations from the Roman people and quickly began work on restoring the condition of the city. However, Urban ran into conflicts with Roman citizens who found their independence had been somewhat curtailed by the newly arrived pontiff who wished to exercise a much stronger control over the city. Poor conditions in the city combined with continued complaints from the French cardinals and revolts in the Papal States persuaded Urban to leave Rome for a return to Avignon on 5 September 1370. This was despite a warning from St. Bridget that Urban would die if he returned to Avignon. On 19th of December, about three months after returning to Avignon, Urban died and was succeeded by Gregory XI who would permanently return the see of Peter to Rome.

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