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Blessed Pope Urban V
The Ultimate Plan B
Oftentimes when faced with the prospect of having to settle for an alternative, a "Plan B" if you will, a combination of timing and lucid thinking under pressure coupled with a dash of good luck yields greatness, the type of greatness that can change a Corporation, a Sports Franchise or an Institution.
Sammy Hagar, Tom Brady, Dick Sargent and Gerald Ford are a few examples of men who enjoyed varying degrees of success as famous replacements, however one of the lesser known "replacement players" may have been the one to have the greatest impact on his chosen discipline, with all due respect to Tom Brady's 3 Super Bowl Victories and fans of "Bewitched" the world over (lest I forget Republicans or the Van Halen faithful).
That man is Blessed Pope Urban V.
Born Guillaume de Grimoard at Grisac in the Languedoc Region of France, he quickly became interested in canon law, the Ecclesiastical Law that officially governs the faith and practice of the members of a Christian church, typically via Papal Pronouncements. He eventually became a Benedictine Monk, quickly assuming the role of Abbot of his Monastery. 10 years later, after having served in a number of different capacities in the Catholic Church including papal diplomat and bishop, he received the ultimate honor.
When the man originally chosen to be named Pope declined the offer, the cardinals quickly and rather unconventionally turned to de Grimoard. What made this decision groundbreaking was the fact that de Grimoard not a cardinal, which was a departure from typical Church Protocol.
His Papacy was one defined by simplicity, spirituality, modesty and a burning desire to foster peace between the Eastern and Western Churches. A true Benedictine at heart, legend has it that he frequently wore his monk habit as opposed to the traditional papal vestments. Remaining loyal to his belief in education, he founded many Universities during his reign which interestingly enough was spent almost exclusively in Avignon as opposed to Rome, perhaps a nod to his humble search for simplicity.
We celebrate his Sainthood and subsequent Feast Day on December 19th, which is also the date of his death in 1370. In a day and age when so many leaders seek to brazenly abuse their power and privilege, be sure to take a moment to remember this humble servant of God, a deep and intelligent thinker who spent his life nourishing his mind and soul for the betterment of the early Church and its disciples.
Not bad for a back-up plan.