After the death of Pope Nicholas IV over two years passed without any agreement on a successor, until on July 5, 1294, the cardinals gathered in Perugia despairingly sought to end the deadlock by electing a 'stop-gap': their choice fell on the 84-year-old Peter of Morrone. (One source says that Peter reputedly threatened the cardinals with the wrath of God if they did not elect a new pope at once.)
Peter was shocked by the cardinals' choice. Despite his grave misgivings he submitted, taking the name of Celestine, and was consecrated bishop of Rome at Aquila on August 29, 1294. The results were disastrous because Celestine was unfitted for the papal office in every respect except his holiness.
In his simplicity, otherworldliness, and naivete he made the most elementary blunders; he became the innocent tool of the politics of King Charles II of Naples. Heartbroken at his failure, miserable in his new surroundings, and overwhelmed by the burden of the office he had not sought and was incapable of filling, he abdicated his office before a consistory of cardinals at Naples on December 13 the same year. He had been pope for less than five months.