Pope Clement XII

Pope Clement XII (Latin: Clemens XII; 7 April 1652 – 6 February 1740), born Lorenzo Corsini, was Pope from 12 July 1730 to his death in 1740.

Clement presided over the growth of a surplus in the papal finances. He thus became known for building the new façade of the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, beginning construction of the Trevi Fountain, and the purchase of Cardinal Alessandro Albani's collection of antiquities for the papal gallery. In his 1738 bull In eminenti apostolatus, he provides the first public papal condemnation of Freemasonry, helping bring about the Catholic Church's longstanding opposition to the order.


Clement XII
Bishop of Rome
Pope Clement XII, portrait
Papacy began12 July 1730
Papacy ended6 February 1740
PredecessorBenedict XIII
SuccessorBenedict XIV
Ordination7 May 1706
by Pope Clement XI
Consecration18 June 1690
by Flavio Chigi
Created cardinal17 May 1706
by Pope Clement XI
Personal details
Birth nameLorenzo Corsini
Born7 April 1652
Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Died6 February 1740 (aged 87)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of armsClement XII's coat of arms
Other popes named Clement

Early life

Lorenzo Corsini was born in Florence in 1652 as the son of Bartolomeo Corsini, Marquis of Casigliano and his wife Elisabetta Strozzi, the sister of the Duke of Bagnuolo. Both of his parents belonged to the old Florentine nobility. He was a distant relative of Saint Andrea Corsini.[1]

Corsini studied at the Jesuit Collegio Romano in Rome and also at the University of Pisa where he earned a doctorate in both civil law and canon law.


Médaille en or à l'effigie du Pape Clément XII, 1730
Clement XII, 1730

Corsini practiced law under the able direction of his uncle, Cardinal Neri Corsini. After the death of his uncle and his father, in 1685, Corsini, now thirty-three, would have become head of the Corsini. Instead he resigned his right of primogeniture and from Pope Innocent XI (1676–1689) he purchased, according to the custom of the time, for 30,000 scudi, a position of prelatial rank and devoted his wealth and leisure to the enlargement of the library bequeathed to him by his uncle.[1] Corsini's home on the Piazza Novona was the center of Rome's scholarly and artistic life.[2]

In 1690 he was made titular Archbishop of Nicomedia and chosen nuncio to Vienna. He did not proceed to the imperial court,[1] because Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor, maintained that he had the right to select the nuncio from a list of three names furnished by the pope.[2]

In 1696, Corsini was appointed treasurer-general and governor of the Castel Sant'Angelo. His good fortune increased during the pontificate of Pope Clement XI (1700–1721),[1] who employed his talents as a courtier and named him Cardinal-Priest of Santa Susanna on 17 May 1706, retaining his services as papal treasurer.[1]

He advanced still further under Pope Benedict XIII (1724–1730), who made him Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, a judicial branch of the Roman Curia. He was successively appointed as the Cardinal-Priest of San Pietro in Vincoli and Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati.[1]


Papa Clemente XII
Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini.
Papal styles of
Pope Clement XII
C o a Clemente XII
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

Papal election

Under Benedict XIII, the finances of the Papal States had been delivered into the hands of Cardinal Niccolò Coscia and other members of the curia, who had drained the financial resources of the see. Benedict died in 1730, and in the conclave that followed his death, after deliberating for four months, the College of Cardinals selected Corsini, 78 years old and with failing eyesight, who had held all the important offices of the Roman Curia.[1] Clement XII was one of the oldest men to be elected pope.

As a Corsini, with his mother a Strozzi, the new pope represented a family in the highest level of Florentine society, with a cardinal in every generation for the previous hundred years.


His first moves as Pope Clement XII were to restore the papal finances. He demanded restitution from the ministers who had abused the confidence of his predecessor. The chief culprit, Cardinal Niccolò Coscia, was heavily fined and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. Papal finances were also improved through reviving the public lottery, which had been suppressed by the severe morality of Benedict XIII. Soon it poured into Clement XII's treasury an annual sum amounting to nearly a half million scudi, enabling him to undertake the extensive building programs for which he is chiefly remembered,[1] but which he was never able to see.

Art and architecture

A competition for the majestic façade of the San Giovanni in Laterano was won by architect Alessandro Galilei. The façade he designed is perhaps more palatial than ecclesiastic, and was finished by 1735. Clement XII erected in that ancient basilica a magnificent chapel dedicated to his 14th century kinsman, St. Andrew Corsini. He restored the Arch of Constantine and built the governmental palace of the Consulta on the Quirinal. He purchased from Cardinal Alessandro Albani for 60,000 scudi a famous collection of statues, inscriptions, etc., and added it to the gallery of the Capitol. He paved the streets of Rome and the roads leading from the city, and widened the Corso. He began the triumphant Baroque Fontana di Trevi, one of the noted ornaments of Rome. Under his reign a port was built at Ancona, with a highway that gave easy access to the interior. He drained the malarial marshes of the Chiana near Lake Trasimeno.[1]

Pope Clement XII bust
Bust of Pope Clement XII by Edme Bouchardon.

Foreign policy

Politically, however, this was not a successful papacy among the secular powers of Europe. When the attempt of papal forces to take over the ancient independent Republic of San Marino failed, Clement XII disavowed the arbitrary action of his legate, Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, in seizing San Marino, and restored its independence. He was also rebuffed in Papal claims over the Duchies of Parma and Piacenza.[1]

In August 1730 he gave permission for Victor Amadeus II of Savoy to carry out a morganatic marriage to Anna Canalis di Cumiana. Victor Amadeus II subsequently abdicated his throne causing great unrest in Savoy.

Ecclesial activities

In ecclesiastic affairs he issued In eminenti apostolatus, the first papal decree against the Freemasons on 28 April 1738. He canonized Saint Vincent de Paul and proceeded with vigour against the French Jansenists. He campaigned for the reunion of the Roman and Orthodox churches, received the Patriarch of the Coptic Church and persuaded the Armenian Patriarch to remove the anathema against the Council of Chalcedon and Pope Leo I (440–461). He dispatched Joseph Simeon Assemani to the East for the twofold purpose of continuing his search for manuscripts and presiding as legate over a national council of Maronites.[1] He created the youngest Cardinal ever when on 19 December 1735, he named Luis Antonio Jaime de Borbón y Farnesio, Royal Infant of Spain, age 8, to the Sacred College.

Though he was blind and compelled to keep to his bed, from which he gave audiences and transacted affairs of state, he surrounded himself with capable officials, many of them his Corsini relatives, but he did little for his family except to purchase and enlarge the palace built in Trastevere for the Riarii, and now known as the Palazzo Corsini (the seat of the Regia Accademia dei Lincei). In 1754, his nephew, Cardinal Neri Corsini, founded there the famous Corsini Library.[1]


Clement XII created 35 cardinals in fifteen consistories held throughout his pontificate. The first individual he raised into the cardinalate was his nephew Neri Maria Corsini while he also raised his future successor Carlo della Torre di Rezzonico (Pope Clement XIII) to the cardinalate.

Canonizations and beatifications

The pope named five new saints during his reign with the most notable being Vincent de Paul. He also beatified eight others including his predecessor Pope Benedict XI.

Death and burial

Tomb of Pope Clement XII
The tomb of Clement XII.

Clement XII died on 6 February 1740 at 9:30am due to complications from gout. His remains were transferred to his tomb in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on 20 July 1742.[1] Pope Clement XII's tomb is in the Capella Corsini of the Basilica of St. John Lateran and was completed by the sculptors Maini and Monaldi. His bust was completed by Filippo della Valle.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLoughlin, James (1908). "Pope Clement XII". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 4. New York: Robert Appleton. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Pope Clement XII", Papal Artifacts
  3. ^ http://www.wga.hu/html/v/valle/clementx.html
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Benedict XIII
12 July 1730 – 6 February 1740
Succeeded by
Benedict XIV
1730 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1730 elected Pope Clement XII as the successor to Pope Benedict XIII.

1740 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1740 (18 February – 17 August), convoked after the death of Pope Clement XII on 6 February 1740, was one of the longest conclaves since the 13th century.

The initial favourite to succeed as pope, the elderly Pietro Ottoboni (1667–1740), Dean of the College of Cardinals, died shortly after the beginning of the conclave, and cardinals loyal to the House of Bourbon repeatedly proposed Pompeo Aldrovandi, but eventually had to accept that he could not secure two-thirds of the votes.

After six months, other possible candidates had also failed, and Prospero Lambertini, Archbishop of Bologna, who had been a cardinal since 9 December 1726, was elected. He took the name Benedict XIV.

Andrea Corsini (cardinal)

Andrea Corsini (11 June 1735, Florence – 18 January 1795, Rome) was an Italian cardinal. A great-nephew of pope Clement XII and a nephew of cardinal Neri Maria Corsini. Pope Clement XIII made him a cardinal in the consistory of 24 September 1759. He was camerlengo of the college of cardinals in 1771.

He was made prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and member of the commission for the Suppression of the Jesuits in 1773. He was also economic prefect of the Collegio Romano and of the Roman seminary and vicar general for the city of Rome and its district.

Candiano Canal

The Candiano Canal, also known as the Canal Corsini, is a canal connecting the Italian city of Ravenna to the Adriatic Sea. The canal was built as part of a construction program begun by Pope Clement XII in the early 18th century. The artificial waterway connects the Monote and Ronco rivers to the Adriatic Sea. At 11 km long, the canal is the largest artificial canal in Italy.

Cardinals created by Clement XII

Pope Clement XII (r. 1730–1740) created 35 cardinals in 15 consistories.


Corsini is a surname of Italian origin.

The Corsini family is a princely Florentine family:

Andrea Corsini (cardinal) (1707-1795)

Saint Andrew Corsini (1302-1373), friar and Bishop Fiesole

Pope Clement XII (1652-1740), born Lorenzo Corsini

Neri Corsini (fl. 1170), founder of the Corsini family

Neri Corsini (died 1377), bishop of Fiesole from 1374 to 1377, see War of the Eight Saints

Neri Corsini (1614–1678), cardinal from 1664 onwards

Neri Maria Corsini (1685–1770), nephew of Pope Clement XII, made cardinal by his uncle 1730Other people with the surname Corsini:

Bruno Henrique Corsini, simply known as Bruno Henrique (born 1989), Brazilian professional footballer

Catherine Corsini (born 1956), French film director

Claudia Corsini (born 1977), Italian Olympic pentathlete

Filippo Corsini (1873-1926), Italian Liberal Party politician

Giulio Corsini (1933–2009), Italian professional football player and coach

Harold Corsini (1919–2008), American photographer

Ignacio Corsini (1891–1967), Italian-born Argentine folklore and tango musician

Maria Corsini (1884–1965), Italian writer, beatified by Pope John Paul II on 2001

Miriam Corsini (born 1989), Mozambican swimmer specializing in breaststroke

Raymond "Ray" J. Corsini (1914–2008), encyclopedist and lexicographer in the field of psychology

Tommaso Corsini (1835-1919), Italian politicianSee also:

Palazzo Corsini, Rome

Palazzo Corsini, Florence

Giovanni Tommaso Maria Marelli

Giovanni Tommaso Maria Marelli, C.O. (1673–1752) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Archbishop (Personal Title) of Imola (1739–1752)

and Archbishop of Urbino (1716–1739).

Hilario a Jesu Costa

Hilario a Jesu Costa, O.A.D. (1696–1754) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Apostolic Vicar of Eastern Tonking (1737–1754) and Titular Bishop of Corycus (1735–1737).

House of Mocenigo

The Mocenigo family was a Venetian family of Lombard Dalmatian origin. Many of its members were doges, statesmen, and soldiers. Notable Mocenigos include:

Tommaso Mocenigo (1343-1423), doge 1414-1423

Pietro Mocenigo, doge from 1474 to 1476

Giovanni Mocenigo, doge from 1478 to 1485

Giovanni Zuane Mocenigo, (lived in early 16th century) accused Giordano Bruno of blasphemy and heresy.

Luigi Mocenigo (Alvise I Mocenigo), doge from 1570 to 1577

Andrea Mocenigo (lived 15th-16th centuries), a senator of the republic and a historian

Luigi Mocenigo (Alvise II Mocenigo), doge from 1700 to 1709

Sebastiano Mocenigo, doge from 1722 to 1732.

Alvise Giovanni Mocenigo, doge from 1763 to 1778

Giovanni Mocenigo, ambassador of pope Clement XII in 18th Century

In eminenti apostolatus

In eminenti apostolatus specula is a papal bull issued by Pope Clement XII on 28 April 1738, banning Catholics from becoming Freemasons. It arose from Jacobite-Hanoverian rivalry on the continent.

Inter praecipuas apostolici ministerii

Inter praecipuas apostolici ministerii was a papal bull issued by Pope Clement XII, on 17 December 1737, establishing that whoever was appointed Patriarch of Lisbon was to be elevated to the rank of cardinal in the next consistory. Lisbon remains the only episcopal see accorded this distinction. Others like the Patriarch of Venice are made cardinals in the consistory following his appointment, but only by tradition.

Popes until Pope Francis honored this commitment. Though he named Manuel Clemente Patriarch of Lisbon in May 2013, he did not make him a cardinal in the next consistory in February 2014 but waited until he held another consistory for creating cardinals in February 2015.

Juan de Galavís

Juan de Galavís y Mendez, OPraem (29 January 1683 – 14 November 1739) was a Spanish Premonstratensian canon regular and a prelate of the Catholic Church in what is now the Dominican Republic and Colombia. He served as Archbishop of Santo Domingo from 1731 to 1737 and as Archbishop of Bogotá from 1737 to 1739. His is the brother and uncle of two mayors of Bogotá, Pedro Galavís y Mendez and Eustaquio Galavís y Hurtado, respectively.

Galavís was born in Robledillo de Gata, Extremadura. He became abbot of his monastery and superior general of the Spanish congregation of the Premonstratensians. He went on to serve as rector of a school in Salamanca and a professor of theology at the University of Salamanca. In September 1729, he was selected by King Philip V to be Archbishop of Santo Domingo. His appointment was confirmed later that year by Pope Benedict XIII and he was consecrated in April 1731. He remained in Santo Domingo until 1737, when he was selected to be the next Archbishop of Santafé en Nueva Granada. He arrived in Bogotá on 29 July 1739 to take possession of the archdiocese, but died a few months later.

Leandro de Santo Agostinho da Piedade

Leandro de Santo Agostinho da Piedade, O.A.D. (1688–1740) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of São Tomé e Príncipe (1738–1740).

Order of Saint Agatha

The Order of Saint Agatha (Italian: Ordine Equestre di Saint' Agata) is a State order established on 5 June 1923 by the Grand and General Council of the Republic of San Marino. It is named after Saint Agatha, on whose feast day 5 February, Pope Clement XII reestablished the sovereignty of the republic in 1740.The order is presented to foreign nationals who have positively contributed charitable and other services for the benefit of the republic deserving of recognition.

Order of Saint Elizabeth

The Order of Saint Elizabeth was an all-female chivalric and charitable order in the Kingdom of Bavaria. The following excerpt is from The Orders of Knighthood, British and Foreign (1884):

The first Consort of the Elector Charles Theodore of the Palatinate, Elizabeth Augusta, daughter of the Palatine Joseph Charles Emanuel of Schultzbach, founded this Order for ladies in honor of her sainted patroness and namesake on the 18th October 1766, as a purely charitable institution for the poor. It was confirmed on the 31st of January 1767, by Pope Clement XII, and endowed with various indulgencies. The Catholic religion and the Seize Quartiers – the proof of noble descent running through sixteen generations of their own or their husband’s ancestors – are indispensable conditions for candidates. The Grand Mistress is, however, empowered to nominate and unlimited number of ladies, from Princely Houses and her own Court, as also six other married or widowed ladies of noble, but not ancient descent. The nomination takes place either on Easter or on Saint Elizabeth’s Day (19th November). The entrance fee is four ducats. The badge is a white enameled cross, representing on one side Saint Elizabeth dispensing charity to the poor, and on the other, the initials of the founder. It is worn on the left breast by a blue ribbon with a red border. No Member can appear in public without it, except by fine of one ducat. The King appoints the Grand Mistress.

Palazzo Corsini, Rome

The Palazzo Corsini is a prominent late-baroque palace in Rome, erected for the Corsini family between 1730–1740 as an elaboration of the prior building on the site, a 15th-century villa of the Riario family, based on designs of Ferdinando Fuga. It is located in the Trastevere section of the city, and stands beside the Villa Farnesina. During 1659–1689, the former Riario palace had hosted the eccentric Christina, Queen of Sweden, who abdicated, converted, and moved to Rome. Under her patronage, this was the site for the first meetings of the Roman Accademia dell'Arcadia.

In 1736, the Florentine Cardinal Neri Maria Corsini, nephew of Pope Clement XII (formerly Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini), acquired the villa and land, and commissioned the structure now standing. During the Napoleonic occupation of Rome, the palace hosted Joseph Bonaparte.

Today, the palace hosts some offices of the National Academy of Science (Accademia dei Lincei) and the Galleria Corsini. The gardens, which rise up the Janiculum hill, are part of the Orto Botanico dell'Università di Roma "La Sapienza", a botanical garden. This also, is not the sole Palazzo Corsini in Italy; there are a handful of palaces belonging to various lines of this Florentine family, which acquired and built this Roman palace, sometime referred to as Palazzo Corsini Lungarno only upon the ascension of their family member to the papacy. Another Corsini palace of note include the Palazzo Corsini al Parione, facing the banks of the Arno in Florence.

Patriarch of Lisbon

The Patriarch of Lisbon (Latin: Patriarcha Olisiponensis, Portuguese: Patriarca de Lisboa), also called the Cardinal-Patriarch of Lisbon once he has been made cardinal, is the ordinary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lisbon. He is one of the few patriarchs in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, along with the Patriarchs of Venice, the East Indies, and Jerusalem.

The diocese of Lisbon was created in the 4th century, but it lay vacant after 716 when the city was captured by the Moors; the diocese was restored when the city was captured by king Afonso I of Portugal during the Second Crusade in 1147. In 1393, Lisbon was raised to the dignity of a metropolitan archdiocese by Pope Boniface IX with the papal bull In eminentissimae dignitatis. In 1716, at the request of King John V, Pope Clement XI issued the bull In Supremo Apostolatus Solio granting the rank of Patriarch to the King's Chaplain, who had since been made Archbishop of West Lisbon.

The bull Inter praecipuas apostolici ministerii, issued by Pope Clement XII in 1737, established that whoever was appointed Patriarch of Lisbon was to be elevated to the rank of cardinal at the next consistory. Lisbon is the only episcopal see to enjoy this distinction, while other patriarchs are made cardinals by custom only.

Santi Celso e Giuliano

Santi Celso e Giuliano is a minor basilica church in Rome, Italy. It has held this status by custom and practice since ancient times. The church is located on Vicolo del Curato number 12, just off Via del Banco di Santo Spirito, the road leading to Ponte Sant'Angelo.

SS. Celso e Giuliano is a 'papal chapel'. Canons of the collegiate church are mentioned in the 14th century. Cardinal Giovanni Antonio Sangiorgio (died 1509) had been the Archpriest, and was buried in the church. In the 17th century, it is recorded, there was an Archpriest and seven Canons.A church on the site was built in the 9th century, reconstruction of the church began in the 16th century under Pope Julius II, who asked Bramante for a design (1509). The designs were never fully implemented. Under Pope Clement XII, the architect Carlo de Dominicis created the church we see today in an oval plan, completed in 1735, including the facade. The main altarpiece is a Christ in Glory by Pompeo Batoni.

Silvio Valenti Gonzaga

Silvio Valenti Gonzaga (1 March 1690 – 28 August 1756) was an Italian nobleman and Catholic cardinal.

Gonzaga was born in Mantua. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 1738 by Pope Clement XII. On 15 May 1747 he was given the titular church of San Callisto. He died in Viterbo.

He owned a large collection of paintings (including the Portrait of Lorenzo Cybo), which, after his death, was sold on 18 May 1763 at Amsterdam and the paintings by Salvator Rosa and Francesco Solimena dispersed in several locations.

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