Franciscan Popes - Part 3
When Nicholas was elected pontiff in 1288, an English friar stated:
Officially the first Franciscan pontiff, Nicholas had humble beginnings as Jerome Masci of Ascoli. As a friar he exercised leadership as the Provincial of the Holy Land, and then as Minister General of the Order following Bonaventure. Serving as a papal ambassador of Gregory X and Nicholas III, he facilitated dialogue between secular and ecclesiastical leaders, including the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church when he accompanied Bonaventure to the Second Council of Lyon.
After ten years as a distinguished cardinal, Jerome Masci was elected to lead the Church. He began his pontificate as Nicholas IV in 1288 and quickly developed the first coherent policy of governing the Papal States. He commissioned his confreres, Friars Jacopo Camerino and Giacomo Toritti, to mosaic the apse of Saint John Lateran and Saint Mary Major in Rome (Nicholas is pictured to the middle in St. Mary Major).
Greatly desiring Church unity, Pope Nicholas sent many ambassadors to the monarchs of Eastern Christians in Ethiopia, Georgia, and Armenia. In 1289, Nicholas IV was also the first pope to confirm the Third Order Regular Rule (TOR), and the Secular Franciscan Rule.
The third pope in this series is Pope Alexander V.