Pope Innocent XIII

Pope Innocent XIII (Latin: Innocentius XIII; 13 May 1655 – 7 March 1724), born as Michelangelo dei Conti, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 May 1721 to his death in 1724. He is the last pope to date to take the pontifical name of "Innocent" upon his election.

Pope Innocent XIII was reform-oriented, and he imposed new standards of frugality, abolishing excessive spending. He took steps to finally end the practice of nepotism by issuing a decree which forbade his successors from granting land, offices or income to any relatives - something opposed by many cardinals who hoped that they might become pope and benefit their families.


Innocent XIII
Bishop of Rome
Papacy began8 May 1721
Papacy ended7 March 1724
PredecessorClement XI
SuccessorBenedict XIII
Ordinationc. 1690
Consecration16 June 1695
by Galeazzo Marescotti
Created cardinal7 June 1706
by Pope Clement XI
Personal details
Birth nameMichelangelo dei Conti
Born13 May 1655
Poli, Lazio, Papal States
Died7 March 1724 (aged 68)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of armsInnocent XIII's coat of arms
Other popes named Innocent


Early life

Michelangelo dei Conti was born on 13 May 1655 in Poli, near Rome as the son of Carlo II, Duke of Poli, and Isabella d'Monti. Like Pope Innocent III (1198–1216), Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241) and Pope Alexander IV (1254–1261), he was a member of the land-owning family of the Conti, who held the titles of counts and dukes of Segni. He included the family crest in his pontifical coats of arms.[1]

Conti commenced his studies in Ancona and then with the Jesuits in Rome at the Collegio Romano and then later at La Sapienza University. After he received his doctorate in canon law and civil law, he was ordained to the priesthood. Conti also served as the Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura in 1691, later to be appointed as the Governor of Ascoli until 1692. Conti was also the Governor of Campagna and Marittima from 1692 to 1693 and the Governor of Viterbo from 1693 to 1695.[2]

Pope Innocent XII selected Conti as the Titular Archbishop of Tarso on 13 June 1695 and he received his episcopal consecration on 16 June 1695 in Rome. Conti was also the nuncio to both Switzerland and Portugal.


On 7 June 1706, Conti was elevated to the cardinalate and was made the Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quirico e Giulitta under Pope Clement XI (1700–21). His appointment came about as the replacement of Gabriele Filippucci who declined the cardinalate. He would receive his titular church on 23 February 1711. From 1697 to 1710 he acted as papal nuncio to the Kingdom of Portugal, where he is believed to have formed those unfavourable impressions of the Jesuits which afterwards influenced his conduct towards them. While in Portugal, he was witness to Father Bartolomeu de Gusmão's early aerostat experiments.

He was also transferred to Osimo as its archbishop in 1709 and was later translated one last time to Viterbo e Toscanella in 1712. He also served as Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals from 1716 to 1717 and resigned his position in his diocese due to illness in 1719.


Papal election

After the death of Pope Clement XI in 1721, a conclave was called to choose a new pope. It took 75 ballots just to reach a decision and choose Conti as the successor of Clement XI. After all candidates seemed to slip, support turned to Conti. The curial factions also turned their attention to him. In the morning of 8 May 1721, he was elected. He chose the name of Innocent XIII in honour of Pope Innocent III. On the following 18 May, he was solemnly crowned by the protodeacon, Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili.


In 1721 his high reputation for ability, learning, purity, and a kindly disposition secured his election to succeed Clement XI as Pope Innocent XIII. His pontificate was prosperous, but comparatively uneventful. He held two consistories that saw three new cardinals elevated on 16 June 1721 and 16 July 1721.

The Chinese Rites controversy that started under his predecessor continued during his reign. Innocent XIII prohibited the Jesuits from prosecuting their mission in China, and ordered that no new members should be received into the order. This indication of his sympathies encouraged some French bishops to approach him with a petition for the recall of the bull Unigenitus by which Jansenism had been condemned; the request, however, was peremptorily denied.

The pope also assisted the Venetians in their struggles and also assisted Malta in its struggles against the Turks.

Innocent XIII, like his predecessor, showed much favour to James Francis Edward Stuart, the "Old Pretender" to the British throne and liberally supported him. The pope's cousin, Francesco Maria Conti, from Siena, became chamberlain of James' little court in the Roman Muti Palace.


Innocent XIII held two consistories in which he named three cardinals. One of those new cardinals was his own brother, Bernardo Maria.


Innocent XIII beatified three individuals during his pontificate: John of Nepomuk (31 May 1721), Dalmazio Moner (13 August 1721), and Andrea dei Conti (11 December 1723).

Doctor of the Church

In 1722, he named Saint Isidore of Seville as a Doctor of the Church.

Death and legacy

Tomb of Innocentius XIII
The tomb of Pope Innocent XIII.

Innocent XIII fell ill in 1724. He was tormented by a hernia of which he spoke to nobody but his valet. At one point, it had burst and caused inflammation and fever. Innocent XIII asked for the last rites, made his profession of faith, and died on 7 March 1724, at the age of 68. His pontificate was unremarkable, given that he was hampered by physical suffering. He was interred in the grottoes at Saint Peter's Basilica.

In 2005 upon the occasion of the 350 years since the birth of the late pontiff, the citizens in the late pope's village of birth asked the Holy See to introduce the cause of beatification for Innocent XIII.

See also


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Innocent XIII" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ "CONTI, Michelangelo (1655-1724)". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
Papal styles of
Pope Innocent XIII
C o a Innocenzo XIII
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Clement XI
8 May 1721 – 7 March 1724
Succeeded by
Benedict XIII
1721 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1721, convoked after the death of Pope Clement XI, it elected Cardinal Michelangelo de' Conti who took the name of Innocent XIII.



was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar, the 1724th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 724th year of the 2nd millennium, the 24th year of the 18th century, and the 5th year of the 1720s decade. As of the start of 1724, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1724 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1724 was called upon the death of Pope Innocent XIII. It began on 20 March 1724 and ended on 28 May that year with the election of Vincenzo Maria Orsini, a Dominican friar, as Pope Benedict XIII. The conclave was made of largely the same electors that had elected Innocent in 1721 and the same factions dominated it. Multiple attempts were made to elect candidates that would be acceptable to the various Catholic monarchies at the time, but none were successful until May. Benedict resisted his own election for two days before being convinced to accept it.

Alessandro Ruspoli, 2nd Prince of Cerveteri

Alessandro, Principe Ruspoli (December 3, 1708 – June 20, 1779) was the 2nd Principe di Cerveteri, 2nd Marchese di Riano and 7th Conte di Vignanello, son of Francesco Maria Marescotti Ruspoli, 1st Prince of Cerveteri and wife Isabella Cesi dei Duchi di Acquasparta, maternal niece of Pope Innocent XIII. His brother was Bartolomeo Ruspoli.

Andrea dei Conti

Blessed Andrea dei Conti (1240 - 1 February 1302) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor who was also a member of the noble house of Conti di Segni. The priest was best known for his humble life of solitude in which he was subjected to demonic visions and attacks though his faith in God saw him emerge time and time again as the victor. He lived his life in a small grotto in the Apennines.Conti was the paternal nephew of Pope Alexander IV and is reported to be the maternal uncle or cousin - though related in some form - of Pope Boniface VIII in addition to being both the ancestor of Pope Innocent XIII and medieval pontiffs Pope Innocent III and Pope Gregory IX; he was also related to a total of five Italian cardinals from his noble stock.His descendant Innocent XIII approved the Franciscan's beatification on 11 December 1724.

Apostolici Ministerii

Apostolici Ministerii was a papal bull issued 23 May 1724, by Pope Innocent XIII, for the revival of ecclesiastical discipline in Spain. The Primate and King Philip of Spain had reported to the Pope that the disciplinary laws of the Council of Trent were gradually falling into disuse. The Pope submitted the matter to the Sacred Congregation of the Council, and with its advice issued the above-mentioned Bull. It lays down rules for the secular and for the regular clergy of Spain, of which the following are the leading points:

Tonsure is in no case to be conferred unless to meet the demands of religion, and in each case the cleric must be assigned to some church.

Seminarists, lest their studies be interfered with, are to attend the Cathedral on festival days only.

All candidates for holy orders must undergo an examination and show adequate knowledge.

The benefice or the title for which one is ordained must be sufficient for his decent support, and benefices of uncertain revenue are to be suppressed.

Those who have the cure of souls must regularly instruct the faithful under their care, and in any cases where through past laxity of discipline they are not fit to do it themselves, must at their own expense have it done by others who are capable.

Parishes which are so extensive that the parishioners cannot regularly attend Mass are to be divided, according to the discretion of the bishop, irrespective of the will of the parish priest; or at least, a second church must be built for their convenience within the parish.

In view of evils which have arisen, the number of persons who receive the habit in religious orders must never be greater than the revenues of the community are capable of supporting.

It shall belong to the exclusive competence of the bishops to provide ordinary and extraordinary confessors for nuns.

Bishops are to see that the ritual and rubrics are carefully observed. They must also correct such abuses as have crept in with regard to the clergy, secular or regular, celebrating Mass in private oratories, in the cells of monasteries, or on portable altars; they must not themselves celebrate Mass in any private chapel except in the chapel of the episcopal residence.Rules are furthermore laid down in the Bull, according to which they are to conduct both criminal and civil causes.

Conti di Segni

The Conti di Segni (de Comitibus Signie, also known as Conti or De Comitibus for short) were an important noble family of medieval and early modern Italy originating in Segni, Lazio.

Many members of the family acted as military commanders or ecclesiastical dignitaries, including many cardinals and four popes.

The family is on historical record beginning with Trasimondo, the father of Lotario Conti, who became Pope Innocent III in 1198.

The second Conti pope was Ugolino (1227-1241), as Gregory IX, the third Rinaldo, as Alexander IV (r. 1254-1261). Medieval to Renaissance era cardinals of the family include Giovanni dei Conti di Segni, Niccolò dei Conti di Segni, Ottaviano di Paoli, Giovanni Conti (d. 1493) and Francesco Conti (d. 1521).

In medieval Rome, both the Torre dei Conti (built in 1238) and the Torre delle Milizie, testified to the feudal power of the family.

In the early modern period, Michelangelo Conti reigned as Pope Innocent XIII from 1721 to 1724.

Torquato Conti (1591–1636) served as a General-Field Marshal of the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years' War, where his cruelty earned him the nickname The Devil.

The family became divided into numerous branches, the principal of which were the counts of Segni and Valmontone, and the dukes of Poli and Guadagnolo (cf. House of Torlonia).

The former branch was extinct with Donna Fulvia (died 1611), who had married the count Sforza of Santa Fiora. The latter branch gave rise to the Colonna family (of which Pope Martin V was a member) before becoming extinct in its turn, in 1808.

Dalmazio Moner

Blessed Dalmazio Moner (1291 - 24 September 1341) was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Preachers from Girona. Moner lived a humble life of solitude at his convent in Girona and later lived a period in France in a cave before being summoned back to Girona where he later died.His beatification received formal ratification from Pope Innocent XIII on 13 August 1721 after the latter confirmed the late friar's local 'cultus' - or popular devotion.

Diego Morcillo Rubio de Auñón

Fray Diego Morcillo Rubio de Auñón, O.SS.T. (sometimes Diego Morcillo Rubio de Suñón de Robledo) (January 3, 1642, Villarrobledo, Albacete, Spain – 1730, Lima, Peru) was a Spanish bishop in Peru and twice viceroy of the colony, from August 15, 1716 to October 5, 1716 (interim) and from January 26, 1720 to May 14, 1724.

Filippo Antonio Gualterio (cardinal)

Filippo Antonio Gualterio (24 March 1660 – 21 April 1728) was made a papal nuncio to France (1700–1706) and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church from 1706.

List of popes from the Conti family

The List of popes from the Conti family includes five names.

Marianna Fontanella

Blessed Marianna Fontanella (7 January 1661 – 16 December 1717) – in religious Maria degli Angeli – was an Italian Roman Catholic professed religious from the Discalced Carmelites. Fontanella studied with the Cistercians as a child and entered the Discalced Carmelites despite the protests of her mother and siblings – she soon became a noted abbess and prioress and in 1703 inaugurated a new convent she herself oversaw the establishment of.Her beatification cause commenced under Pope Innocent XIII in 1722 and she was titled as Venerable in 1778 under Pope Pius VI. Her beatification received ratification in 1865 under Pope Pius IX.

Mariano Armellino

Mariano Armellino (1657–1737) was a Benedictine historian, born in Rome (according to others, at Ancona).

At the age of twenty he entered the monastery of St. Paul in Rome, whence he was sent to Monte Cassino to complete his studies. From 1687 to 1695 he taught philosophy at various monasteries of the Cassinese Congregation. From 1697 to 1722 he devoted himself to preaching and became famous throughout Italy for his Lenten sermons. In 1722 Pope Innocent XIII appointed him abbot of the monastery at Siena; in 1729 he was transferred as abbot to the Monastery of St. Peter at Assisi, and in 1734, to the Monastery at St. Felician, near Foligno.

He wrote the Bibliotheca Benedictino-Casinensis, a list and sketch of the authors of the Cassinese Congregation, and a few other historical and hagiographical works concerning the Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines.

He died at Foligno.

Our Lady of the Pillar

Our Lady of the Pilar (Spanish: Nuestra Señora del Pilar) is the name given to the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with the claim of Marian apparition to Apostle James the Greater as he was praying by the banks of the Ebro at Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza), Hispania, in AD 40.

The celebrated wooden image is enshrined at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pilar in Saragossa (Zaragoza).

Pope Callixtus III granted indulgences towards her shrine in 1456. Since 1730, Pope Innocent XIII mandated her veneration throughout the Spanish Empire, and the Virgin Mary invoked under this specific Marian title is considered the Patroness of the Spanish region of Aragon and its capital Saragossa (Zaragoza), and of the Spanish Civil Guard. Ultimately, Pope Pius X granted the image its canonical coronation on 20 May 1905. Her feast day is 12 October, thus coinciding with Columbus Day, celebrated as the national holiday of Spain.

Poli, Lazio

Poli is a town and comune in Lazio, central Italy. It is located in the Monti Prenestini area. It is also the birthplace of Pope Innocent XIII and Cardinals Agostino Vallini and Giannicolò Conti.

Pope Innocent

Pope Innocent may refer to:

Pope Innocent I, saint (401–417)

Pope Innocent II (1130–1143)

Antipope Innocent III (1179-1180)

Pope Innocent III (1198–1216)

Pope Innocent IV (1243–1254)

Pope Innocent V (1276)

Pope Innocent VI (1352–1362)

Pope Innocent VII (1404–1406)

Pope Innocent VIII (1484–1492)

Pope Innocent IX (1591)

Pope Innocent X (1644–1655)

Pope Innocent XI (1676–1689)

Pope Innocent XII (1691–1700)

Pope Innocent XIII (1721–1724)

Santi Quirico e Giulitta

The Roman Catholic titular church of Santi Quirico e Giulitta (Saints Quiricus and Julietta) in Rome is named after a son and mother who were martyred in 304 AD in Tarsus. The church is located in central Rome behind the Forum of Augustus. The address is: Via di Tor de’ Conti 31/A, 00184.

Today the church is administered by the Third Order of Saint Francis. The feast of Sts Quiricus and Julitta is celebrated on 16 June.

Sebastiano Antonio Tanara

Sebastiano Antonio Tanara (10 April 1650 – 5 May 1724) was an Italian cardinal.

He studied law at the university of Bologna. He was internuncio in Flanders (1675-1687) and as, such, he was sent with secret mission to king James II of England, who had converted to Catholicism. In 1687 he was consecrated titular archbishop of Damasco and then served as papal nuncio in Cologne (1687–90), Portugal (1690–92) and Austria (1692–96). Pope Innocent XII created him Cardinal Priest in December 1695 and assigned to him the title of SS. IV Coronati on 21 May 1696. He participated in the Papal conclave, 1700. New Pope Clement XI named him Prefect of the S.C. of the Ecclesiestical Immunities. He was also legate in Urbino for twelve years (1703–15). Bishop of the suburbicarian sees of Frascati (1 April 1715) and Ostia e Velletri (3 March 1721). Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals 1721-24; as such, he presided over Papal conclave, 1721. He died during sede vacante after the death of Pope Innocent XIII.

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