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Innocent IV

Coat of arms of Pope Innocent IV

The Pope (Latin Papa, meaning father) is the Bishop of Rome and the supreme authority over the Church. As the first Bishop of Rome was St. Peter, the Pope is seen as St. Peter's successor, and in heraldry, a crossed pair of keys of silver and gold, representing the keys to Heaven and thus representing St. Peter, are prominently displayed in the coat armory of the Pope and Vatican City. The Pope's residence is located in Vatican City, a sovereign city-state located in Rome.

During the Middle Ages, the Pope wielded significant power in temporal politics. He crowned emperors, advised kings, and sometimes interceded in times of conflict, as well as making moral pronouncements that sometimes set the tone of political debate. During the 14th century, seven successive popes resided in Avignon instead of Rome, leading to the Papal Schism, which occurred when relations broke down between the cardinals and Pope Urban VI after his predecessor, Pope Gregory XI, had left Avignon in 1376 to restore the papal residence to Rome. In 1378 the cardinals installed a new Pope, Clement VII, in Avignon, in opposition to Urban VI in Rome. Clement VII and his successor, Benedict XIII, became known as the antipopes, and their legitimacy is not recognized by the modern Catholic Church. The matter was settled in 1417 with the Council of Constance, and although a few other antipopes were later named, none of them resided at Avignon nor enjoyed popular support.


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