The Blessed Eugene III, né Bernardo Pignatelli (d. July 8, 1153) was pope from 1145 to 1153.
A native of Pisa, Bernardo Pignatelli was elected pope in February 1145. When called to occupy this supreme position, he was only abbot of a Cistercian monastery just outside Rome, and he owed his elevation partly to the fact that none were eager to accept an office the duties of which were at the time so difficult and dangerous, but chiefly to his being the friend and pupil of Bernard of Clairvaux, the most influential ecclesiastic of the Western church, and a strong assertor of the pope's temporal authority. The choice had not, however, the approval of Bernard, who remonstrated against the election on account of the "innocence and simplicity" of Eugene: but after the choice was made he took advantage of the qualities in Eugene which he objected to, so as to virtually rule in his name.
During nearly the whole of his pontificate Eugene was unable to reside in Rome. Hardly had he left the city to be consecrated in the monastery of Farfa (about 40k north of Rome), when the citizens, under the influence of Arnold of Brescia - the great opponent of the pope's temporal power - established the old Roman constitution, and elected Giordanao to be "patrician". Eugene appealed for help to Tivoli,_Italy and to other cities at feud with Rome, and with their aid was successful in making such conditions with the Roman citizens as enabled him for a time to hold the semblance of authority in his capital; but as he would not agree to a treacherous compact against Tivoli, he was compelled to leave the city in March 1146. He stayed for some time at Viterbo, and then at Siena, but went ultimately to France.
On hearing of the fall of Edessa to the Turks, he had, in December 1145, addressed a letter to Louis VII of France, calling on him to take part in another crusade; and at a great diet held at Speyer in 1146 the emperor Conrad III also, and many of his nobles were, by the eloquence of Bernard, incited to dedicate themselves to the Crusade.
He held synods in northern Europe at Paris, Reims, and Trier in 1147 and 1179 which were devoted to the reform of clerical life; he also considered and approved the works of Hildegard of Bingen. In 1149, Eugene returned to Italy, and took up his residence at Viterbo. In 1150, through the aid of the king of Sicily, he was again able to enter Rome, but the jealously of the republicans soon compelled him to retire.
The emperor Frederick Barbarossa had promised to aid him against his revolted subjects, but the death of Eugene at Tivoli, July 8, 1153, prevented the fulfillment of the engagement. Though the citizens of Rome were jealous of the efforts of Eugene to assert his temporal authority, they were always ready to recognize him as their spiritual lord, and they besides deeply reverenced his personal character. Accordingly he was buried at the Vatican with every mark of respect, and his tomb soon acquired an extraordinary fame for miraculous cures.