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Pope Pius VII

Pope Pius VIIAKA Giorgio Barnaba Luigi Chiaramonti

Born: 14-Aug-1740
Birthplace: Cesena, Italy
Died: 20-Aug-1823
Location of death: Rome, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: Italy
Executive summary: Roman Catholic Pope 1800-23

Pope from 1800 to 1823, the son of Count Scipione Chiaramonti and the deeply religious Countess Ghini, was born at Cesena on the 14th of August 1740 (not 1742). After studying at Ravenna, at the age of sixteen he entered the Benedictine monastery of St. Mary in his native town: here he was known as Gregorio. Almost immediately he was sent by his superiors to Padua and to Rome for a further course of studies in theology. He then held various teaching appointments in the colleges of his order at Parma and at Rome. He was created an abbot of his order by his relative Pope Pius VI, who also appointed him Bishop of Tivoli on the 16th of December 1782, and on the 14th of February 1785, because of excellent conduct of office, raised him to the cardinalate and the see of Imola. At the death of Pius VI the conclave met at Venice on the 30th of November 1799, with the result that Chiaramonti, the candidate of the French cardinal-archbishop Maury, who was most skilfully supported by the secretary of the conclave Ercole Consalvi, was elected pope on the 14th of March 1800. He was crowned on the 21st of that month; in the following July he entered Rome, on the 11th of August appointed Consalvi cardinal-deacon and secretary of state, and busied himself with administrative reforms.

His attention was at once directed to the ecclesiastical anarchy of France, where, apart from the broad schism on the question of submission to the civil constitution of the clergy, discipline had been so far neglected that a large proportion of the churches were closed, dioceses existed without bishops or with more than one, Jansenism and clerical marriage were on the increase, and indifference or hostility widely prevailed amongst the people. Encouraged by Napoleon Bonaparte's desire for the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in France, Pius negotiated the celebrated concordat, which was signed at Paris on the 15th of July and ratified by Pius on the 14th of August 1801. The importance of this agreement was, however, considerably lessened by the "articles organiques" appended to it by the French government on the 8th of April 1802. In 1804 Napoleon opened negotiations to secure at the pope's hands his formal consecration as emperor. After some hesitation Pius was induced to perform the ceremony at Notre Dame and to extend his visit to Paris for four months; but in return for these favors he was able to obtain from Napoleon merely one or two minor concessions. Pius, who arrived in Rome on the 16th of May 1805, gave to the college of cardinals a rose-colored report of his experiences; but disillusionment was rapid. Napoleon soon began to disregard the Italian concordat of 1803, and himself decreed the dissolution of the marriage of his brother Jerome with Miss Patterson of Baltimore. The irritation between France and the Vatican increased so rapidly that on the 2nd of February 1808 Rome was occupied by General Miollis; a month later the provinces of Ancona, Macerata, Fermo and Urbino were united to the Kingdom of Italy, and diplomatic relations between Napoleon and Rome were broken off; finally, by a decree issued from Schönbrunn on the 17th of May 1809, the emperor united the papal states to France. Pius retaliated by a bull excommunicating the invaders; and, to prevent insurrection, Miollis -- either on his own responsibility, as Napoleon afterwards asserted, or by order of the latter -- employed General Radet to take possession of the pope's person. The palace on the Quirinal was broken open during the night of July 5th, and, on the persistent refusal of Pius to rescind the bull of excommunication and to renounce his temporal authority, he was carried off, first to Grenoble, thence after an interval to Savona on the Gulf of Genoa. Here he steadfastly refused canonical institution to the bishops nominated by Napoleon; and, when it was discovered that he was maintaining a secret correspondence, he was deprived of all books, even of pen and ink. At length, his nerves shattered by insomnia and fever, he was willing to give satisfactory oral assurances as to the institution of the French bishops.

In May 1812 Napoleon, on the pretext that the English might liberate the pope if he were left at Savona, caused the aged and sick pontiff to be transported to Fontainebleau; the journey was so hard that on Mount Cenis Pius received the viaticum. Arriving safely, however, at Fontainebleau, he was lodged in a suite of regal magnificence to await the return of the emperor from Moscow. When Napoleon arrived, he entered into personal negotiations with the pope, who on the 25th of January 1813 assented to a concordat so degrading that his conscience found no relief till the 24th of March, when, on the advice of the cardinal Pacca and Consalvi, he abrogated it; and on the 9th of May he proceeded to defy the emperor by declaring invalid all the official acts of the new French bishops. In consequence of the battle of Leipzig and the entry of the allied forces into France, Napoleon ordered in January 1814 that the pope be returned to Savona for safekeeping; but soon the course of events forced him to liberate the pope and give back the States of the Church. On the 19th of March Pius left Savona, and was received with rejoicing at Rome on the 24th of May. While Consalvi at the Congress of Vienna was securing the restitution of nearly all the papal territory, reaction had full swing at Rome; the Jesuits were restored; the French legislation, much of which was of great social value, was repealed; the Index and the Inquisition were revived. On his return Consalvi conducted a more enlightened and highly centralized administration, based largely on the famous Motu proprio of 1816; nevertheless the finances were in a desperate condition. Discontent centered perhaps in the Carbonari, a Liberal secret society condemned by the pope in 1821. The chief triumphs of Consalvi were the negotiation of a series of valuable concordats with all the Roman Catholic powers save Austria. In the latter years of Pius's life royalty often came to Rome; the pope was very gracious to exiled kings and showed notable magnanimity toward the family of Napoleon. He also attracted many artists to the city, including the greatest sculptors of the time, one of whom, the Protestant Thorwaldsen, prepared the tomb in which repose the remains of the gentle and courageous pontiff, who passed into rest on the 20th of August 1823. His successor was Pope Leo XII.

Father: Scipione Chiaramonti

    Roman Catholic Pope 14-Mar-1800 to 20-Aug-1823

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