Pope Gregory XVI

Pope Gregory XVI (Latin: Gregorius XVI; 18 September 1765 – 1 June 1846), born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 2 February 1831 to his death in 1846.[1] He had adopted the name Mauro upon entering the religious order of the Camaldolese.

Strongly conservative and traditionalist, he opposed democratic and modernising reforms in the Papal States and throughout Europe, seeing them as fronts for revolutionary leftism. Against these trends Gregory XVI sought to strengthen the religious and political authority of the papacy (see ultramontanism). In the encyclical Mirari vos, he pronounced it "false and absurd, or rather mad, that we must secure and guarantee to each one liberty of conscience." He encouraged missionary activity abroad and condemned the slave trade. However, his harsh repression, financial extravagance and neglectfulness left him deeply unpopular domestically.

He is the most recent pope to take the pontifical name "Gregory", and the most recent non-bishop to become pope.


Gregory XVI
Bishop of Rome
Gregory XVI
Papacy began2 February 1831
Papacy ended1 June 1846
PredecessorPius VIII
SuccessorPius IX
Consecration6 February 1831
by Bartolomeo Pacca
Created cardinal13 March 1826
by Pope Leo XII
Personal details
Birth nameBartolomeo Alberto Cappellari
Born18 September 1765
Belluno, Republic of Venice
Died1 June 1846 (aged 80)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of armsGregory XVI's coat of arms
Other popes named Gregory


Early life

Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari was born at Belluno in the Republic of Venice, on 18 September 1765, to an Italian lower noble family. His parents were from a small village named Pesariis, in Friuli. His father was a lawyer. At the age of eighteen Bartolomeo Cappellari joined the order of the Camaldolese[2] (part of the Benedictine monastic family) and entered the Monastery of San Michele in Murano, near Venice. He was ordained a priest in 1787.[3] As a Camaldolese monk, Cappellari rapidly gained distinction for his theological and linguistic skills, was assigned to teach philosophy and theology at San Michele in 1787, at the age of twenty-two.

In 1790, at the age of twenty-five, he was appointed censor librorum for his Order, as well as for the Holy Office at Venice.[3] He went to Rome in 1795 and in 1799 published a polemic against the Italian Jansenists titled II Trionfo della Santa Sede ("The Triumph of the Holy See"),[4][5] which passed through various editions in Italy and was translated into several European languages. In 1800 he became a member of the Academy of the Catholic Religion, founded by Pope Pius VII (1800–23), to which he contributed memoirs on theological and philosophical questions. In 1805, at the age of forty, he was appointed abbot of the Monastery of San Gregorio on Rome's Caelian Hill.[6]

When the army of the French Emperor Napoleon took Rome and arrested and deported Pius VII to France in 1809, Cappellari fled to Murano, where he taught in the Monastery of S. Michele of his Order, where he had first become a monk. From there he and a group of monks moved their little college to Padua in 1814. After Napoleon's final defeat, the Congress of Vienna re-established the sovereignty of the Papal States over central Italy and Cappellari was called back to Rome to assume the post of vicar general of the Camaldolese Order. He was then appointed as Counsellor to the Inquisition, and later promoted to be Consultor (29 February 1820) and then, on 1 October 1826, Prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide ("Propagation of the Faith"),[6] which dealt with all missionary work outside of the Spanish Empire, including missions to the non-Catholic states in Europe.[7] Twice he was offered a bishopric and twice he refused.[3]


Grand Gala Berlin
"The Grand Gala Berlin" is luxury carriage constructed in Rome during the first half of the nineteenth century, is the work of two pontiffs: Leo XII, who called for it to be produced in the years 1824–1826, and Gregory XVI, who requested some important modifications.

On 21 March 1825, Cappellari was created cardinal in pectore (published 13 March 1826) by Pope Leo XII,[8] and shortly afterwards he was asked to negotiate a concordat to safeguard the rights of Catholics in the Low Countries, a diplomatic task which he completed successfully. He also negotiated a peace on behalf of Armenian Catholics with the Ottoman Empire. He publicly condemned the Polish revolutionaries, who he thought were seeking to undermine Russian Tsar Nicholas I's efforts to support the Catholic royalist cause in France by forcing him to divert his troops to suppress the uprising in Poland.[9]

Cappellari had never travelled outside Italy and was most familiar with Venice and Rome. He spoke Italian and Latin fluently, but no other European languages, and did not understand European politics.[10] However, he was proficient in Armenian, and Haruti'iwn Awgerian (Pascal Aucher)'s 1827 Venice edition of works attributed to Severian of Gabala and translated into Armenian was dedicated to him.


Papal election

1 Scudo en argent à l'effigie de Grégoire XVI, 1834
Pope Gregory XVI, 1834
Papal styles of
Pope Gregory XVI
C o a Gregorio XVI
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

On 2 February 1831, after a fifty-day conclave, Cappellari was unexpectedly chosen to succeed Pope Pius VIII (1829–30). His election was influenced by the fact that the cardinal considered the most papabile, Giacomo Giustiniani, was vetoed by King Ferdinand VII of Spain.[3] There then arose a deadlock between the other two major candidates, Emmanuele De Gregorio and Bartolomeo Pacca. What finally drove them to make a decision was a message from the Duke of Parma notifying them that revolt was about to break out in the northern Papal States.[10] To resolve the impasse, the cardinals turned to Cappellari, but it took eighty-three ballots for the canonically required two-thirds majority to be reached.[11]

At the time of election, Cardinal Cappellari was not yet a bishop: he is the most recent man to be elected pope prior to his episcopal consecration. He was consecrated as bishop by Bartolomeo Pacca, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri and dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals,[6] with Pietro Francesco Galleffi, Cardinal Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina and sub-dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, and Tommasso Arezzo, Cardinal Bishop of Sabina, acting as co-consecrators.

The choice of Gregory XVI as his regnal name was influenced by the fact that he had been abbot of the Monastery of San Gregorio on the Coelian Hill for more than twenty years, and in honour of Gregory XV, the founder of the Congregation for the Propaganda (Propagation of the Faith).[3] The Monastery of S. Gregorio was the same abbey from which Pope Gregory I had dispatched missionaries to England in 596.


The revolution of 1830, which overthrew the House of Bourbon, had just inflicted a severe blow on the Catholic royalist party in France. Almost the first act of the new French government was to seize Ancona, thus throwing Italy, and particularly the Papal States, into a state of confusion and political upheaval. In the course of the struggle that ensued, it was more than once necessary to call in Austrian troops to fight the red-shirted republicans engaged in a guerrilla campaign.[12] The conservative administration of the Papal States postponed their promised reforms after a series of bombings and assassination attempts. The replacement of Tommaso Bernetti by Luigi Lambruschini as Cardinal Secretary of State in 1836 did nothing to appease the situation.

In the northern territories the leaders of the revolt were middle-class gentry opposed to the general inefficiency of the government.[10]

Governance of the papal states

Gregory XVI and Cardinal Lambruschini opposed basic technological innovations such as gas lighting and railways,[12] believing that they would promote commerce and increase the power of the bourgeoisie, leading to demands for liberal reforms which would undermine the monarchical power of the Pope over central Italy. Gregory XVI in fact banned railways in the Papal States, calling them chemins d'enfer ("road to hell," a play on the French for railroad, chemin de fer, literally "iron road").[13]

The insurrections at Viterbo in 1836, in various parts of the Legations in 1840, at Ravenna in 1843 and Rimini in 1845, were followed by wholesale executions and draconian sentences of hard labour and exile, but they did not bring the unrest within the Papal States under the control of the authorities. Gregory XVI made great expenditures for defensive, architectural and engineering works, having a monument to Pope Leo XII built by Giuseppe Fabris in 1837.[12] He also lavished patronage on such scholars as Angelo Mai, Giuseppe Mezzofanti, and Gaetano Moroni. This largesse, however, significantly weakened the finances of the Papal States.

Condemnation of the slave trade

Monument to Gregory XVI in Saint Peter's Basilica

In 1839, Gregory XVI issued an apostolic letter against the Atlantic slave trade, In supremo apostolatus, in which he wrote:[14]

[W]e have judged that it belonged to Our pastoral solicitude to exert Ourselves to turn away the Faithful from the inhuman slave trade in Negroes and all other men. ... [D]esiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. ...
We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.[15]

Other activities


Other important encyclicals issued by Pope Gregory XVI were Sollicitudo ecclesiarum, which stated that in the event of a change of government, the church would negotiate with the new government for placement of bishops and vacant dioceses (issued 1831);[14] Mirari Vos, on liberalism and religious indifferentism (issued on 15 August 1832); Quo graviora, on the Pragmatic Constitution in the Rhineland (issued on 4 October 1833); Singulari Nos, on the ideas of Hugues Felicité Robert de Lamennais (issued on 25 June 1834), and Commissum divinitus (17 May 1835) on church and state.[16]

Canonizations and beatifications

Gregory XVI canonized Veronica Giuliani, an Italian mystic during his papacy. During his reign, five saints were canonized (such as Alphonsus Liguori), thirty-three Servants of God were declared Blessed (including the Augustinian Simon of Cascia), and many new religious orders were founded or supported, and the devotion of the faithful to Mary, the mother of Jesus, increased, both in private and public life.[3]


The pope created 75 cardinals in 24 consistories in which the pope elevated 35 cardinals in pectore including his future successor Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti who became Pope Pius IX. The pope also created six additional cardinals in pectore though the pope died before these names could be revealed therefore cancelling their appointments to the cardinalate.

Death and burial

On 20 May 1846, he felt himself failing in health. A few days later, he was taken ill with facial erysipelas. At first the attack was not thought to be very serious, but on 31 May, his strength suddenly failed, and it was seen that the end was near.[3]

Gregory XVI died on 1 June 1846 at 9:15 AM at age 80. After his funeral, he was buried in Saint Peter's Basilica.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Pham 2004, p. 187.
  2. ^ McBrien 2000, p. 336.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Toke, Leslie. "Pope Gregory XVI." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 20 November 2015
  4. ^ McBrien 2000, p. 337.
  5. ^ Gregory XVI (Mauro Cappellari) (1832). Il trionfo della Santa Sede e della Chiesa: contro gli assalti dei novatori combattuti e respinti colle stesse loro armi (in Italian). Venice: G. Battaggia.
  6. ^ a b c Pham 2004, p. 322.
  7. ^ Salvador Miranda, Biographical notes on Mauro Cappellari. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  8. ^ McBrien 2000, p. 335.
  9. ^ "Pope Gregory XVI to Bring about a Decision" (PDF). C Korten. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Chadwick, Owen. "Gregory XVI", A History of the Popes, 1830–1914, Oxford University Press, 2003 ISBN 9780199262861
  11. ^ J. P. Adams, Sede Vacante 1830–1831.. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  12. ^ a b c McBrien 2000, p. 276.
  13. ^ Pham 2004, pp. 20–21.
  14. ^ a b McBrien 2000, p. 339.
  15. ^ "In supremo apostolatus". Papalencyclicals.net. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  16. ^ Pope Gregory XVI. Commissum divinitus, May 17, 1835, Papal Encyclicals Online
  17. ^ Pope Gregory XVI at Find a Grave


External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Giulio Maria della Somaglia
Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith
1 October 1826 – 2 February 1831
Succeeded by
Carlo Maria Pedicini
Preceded by
2 February 1831 – 1 June 1846
Succeeded by
Pius IX
Agostina Camozzi

Blessed Agostina Camozzi (1435 - 13 February 1458) - in religious Cristina - was an Italian Roman Catholic professed religious from the Order of Saint Augustine. Camozzi led a dissolute life as a widow and a soldier's mistress before she became a nun and adopted a life of total repentance.Her beatification received confirmation from Pope Gregory XVI on 19 September 1834 after the pontiff acknowledged the late nun's 'cultus' (or longstanding and popular devotion).

Barthélemy Bruguière

Barthélemy Bruguière (February 12, 1792 – October 20, 1835) was the first Apostolic Vicar of Korea and former Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of Siam.

Camilla Gentili

Blessed Camilla Gentili (??? - 26 July 1486) was an Italian Roman Catholic from Macerata. She was married to the anti-religious and abusive Battista Santucci, who murdered her in cold blood in opposition to her faith and her perceived disobedience.Gentili was beatified in 1841 after Pope Gregory XVI approved her 'cultus' (or popular following and longstanding devotion).

Cum primum (encyclical)

Cum primum, subtitled On Civil Disobedience, is an encyclical issued by Pope Gregory XVI on June 9, 1832.The encyclical is addressed to the episcopate of the Kingdom of Poland and is primarily a condemnation of the November Uprising.

Edward Barron

Edward Barron (1801-1854) was an Irish born missionary bishop who led the Catholic mission to Liberia. Born on 18 June 1801, one of ten children of Pierce Barron of Ballyneale, Clonea, Rathgormack, county Waterford and Anna née Winston.

Edward was sent to boarding school in England, attended Trinity College, Dublin studying Law, without completing exams. He entered St. John's College, Waterford to study for the priesthood, and in 1823 was sent to the Propaganda College Rome to complete his studies gaining a Doctorate in Theology and ordained at St Agatha’s church in 1829. Dr Barron was appointed Professor in St. John's College, Waterford, where taught for seven years before moving to America, before taking up an appointment in West Africa as Apostolic Prefect of Two Guineas and Senegambia. On 3 Oct 1842, Barron was appointed by Pope Gregory XVI as Titular Bishop of Constantina and Apostolic Vicar of Two Guineas and Senegambia after the prefecture was elevated.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Barron went to Savannah, Georgia, and died there of fever Sept. 12, 1854.Rev. Barrons brother Sir Henry Barron, 1st Baronet served as an MP for Waterford City.

In supremo apostolatus

In supremo apostolatus is a papal bull issued by Pope Gregory XVI regarding the institution of slavery. Issued on December 3, 1839, as a result of a broad consultation among the College of Cardinals, the bull resoundingly denounces both the slave trade and the continuance of the institution of slavery.

Jean-Baptiste Boucho

Jean-Baptiste Boucho (February 18, 1797-March 6, 1871) was the Vicar Apostolic of Malacca-Singapore.

Joseph-Hippolyte Guibert

Joseph-Hippolyte Guibert (1802, Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône – 1886, Paris) was a French Catholic Archbishop of Paris and Cardinal.

He was consecrated by Eugène de Mazenod and was appointed by Pope Gregory XVI as bishop of Viviers in 1842, and archbishop of Tours in 1857. He became Archbishop of Paris in 1871, and a Cardinal in 1873. He participated in the 1878 conclave.

List of papal tiaras in existence

The papal tiara is the crown worn by popes of the Catholic Church for centuries, until 1978 when Pope John Paul I declined a coronation, opting instead for an inauguration. The tiara is still used as a symbol of the papacy. It features on the coat of arms of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State, though not on the pope's personal coat of arms since Pope Benedict XVI replaced the tiara on his official coat of arms with a traditional bishop's mitre. A tiara is used to crown a statue of Saint Peter in St. Peter's Basilica every year on his feast day.Popes commissioned tiaras from jewelers or received them as gifts, with a number remaining in the possession of the Holy See. In 1798, French troops occupied Rome and stole or destroyed all but one of the papal tiaras held by the Holy See. Since then popes have used or received as gifts more than twenty tiaras. Several were never worn by a pope, notably those presented as gifts since the last papal coronation in 1963.

Lodovico Altieri

Lodovico Altieri (17 July 1805 – 11 August 1867) was an Italian Roman Catholic cardinal. He served in various capacities under various popes and belonged to a noble Roman house making him a descendant of Pope Clement X.

The sainthood process commenced under Pope Benedict XVI and the late cardinal has been titled as a Servant of God.

Ludovico Morbioli

Blessed Ludovico Morbioli (1433 - 9 November 1485) was an Italian Roman Catholic from Bologna who led a dissolute life before adopting a life of repentance. Morbioli was married but separated from his wife after experiencing a sudden religious conversion in Venice during a grave illness - he forever wandered the streets preaching on penance and the need for personal mortifications. His use of a white habit has given rise to misconceptions that he was part of the Carmelite Order when he was not.Morbioli's beatification received full approval on 24 October 1843 after Pope Gregory XVI confirmed the late penitent's longstanding and enduring local 'cultus' - or popular veneration.

Luigi Rabatà

Blessed Luigi Rabatà (1443 - 8 May 1490) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest from the Order of Carmelites. He served as prior of his convent of Randazzo until his death which occurred after an attack in which an arrow was shot into his head.Rabatà's beatification was confirmed on 10 December 1841 after Pope Gregory XVI confirmed that the late priest had a longstanding 'cultus' (or popular devotion) that was enduring.

Mirari vos

Mirari vos - Latin: to wonder at you - (On Liberalism and Religious Indifferentism), sometimes referred to as Mirari vos arbitramur, is the first encyclical of Pope Gregory XVI and was issued in August 1832. Addressed "To All Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic World", it is general in scope.

Patrick Joseph Carew

Most Rev. Patrick Joseph Carew (1800 – 2 November 1855) was the Vicar Apostolic of Western Bengal.

Pope Gregory

Gregory has been the name of sixteen Roman Catholic Popes and two Antipopes. The Latin name is Gregorius.

Pope Gregory I "the Great" (590–604), after whom the Gregorian chant is named

Pope Gregory II (715–731)

Pope Gregory III (731–741)

Pope Gregory IV (827–844)

Pope Gregory V (996–999)

Pope Gregory VI (1045–1046)

Antipope Gregory VI

Pope Gregory VII (1073–1085), after whom the Gregorian Reform is named

Pope Gregory VIII (1187)

Antipope Gregory VIII

Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241)

Pope Gregory X (1271–1276)

Pope Gregory XI (1370–1378)

Pope Gregory XII (1406–1415)

Pope Gregory XIII (1572–1585), after whom the Gregorian calendar is named

Pope Gregory XIV (1590–1591)

Pope Gregory XV (1621–1623)

Pope Gregory XVI (1831–1846)

Quo graviora (1833)

Quo graviora, or On the Pragmatic Constitution, was the name of an encyclical issued by Pope Gregory XVI on 4 October 1833. It was addressed to the bishops of Rhineland concerning the movement for reforms in ecclesiastical province of the Rhineland by that time.

Rothschild loans to the Holy See

Rothschild loans to the Holy See refers to a series of major financial loans arranged between the Rothschild family and the Holy See of the Catholic Church. The first loan which occurred in 1832 took place in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars during the Pontificate of Pope Gregory XVI (involving James Mayer de Rothschild and Carl Mayer von Rothschild). This loan agreed on was for a sum of £400,000 (equivalent to £36.5 million in 2018). A second loan occurred during the Pontificate of Pope Pius IX ("Pio Nono") in the early 1850s with the same members of the Rothschild family after the collapse of Giuseppe Mazzini's short-lived revolutionary Roman Republic and the restoration of the Papal States.

Singulari Nos

Singulari Nos (subtitled On The Errors Of Lammenais) was an encyclical issued on June 25, 1834 by Pope Gregory XVI. Essentially a follow-up to the better-known Mirari Vos of 1832, Singulari Nos focused strongly on the views of French priest Hughes Felicité Robert de Lamennais, who did not see any contradiction between Catholicism and then-modern ideals of liberalism and the separation of Church and State.

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