Pope Leo XII (22 August 1760 – 10 February 1829), born Annibale Francesco Clemente Melchiorre Girolamo Nicola Sermattei della Genga,[a] pronunciation (help·info) was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 28 September 1823 to his death in 1829.
Leo XII was in ill health from the time of his election to the papacy to his death less than 6 years later, although he was noted for enduring pain well. He was a deeply conservative ruler, who enforced many controversial laws, including one forbidding Jews to own property. Papal finances were also poor, even though he reduced taxes. As a result, Leo XII's reign was unpopular and provoked widespread discontent within the Papal States.
|Bishop of Rome|
|Papacy began||28 September 1823|
|Papacy ended||10 February 1829|
|Ordination||4 June 1783|
by Marcantonio Colonna
|Consecration||24 February 1794|
by Henry Benedict Mary Clement Stuart of York
|Created cardinal||8 March 1816|
by Pius VII
|Birth name||Annibale Francesco Clemente Melchiorre Girolamo Nicola Sermattei della Genga|
|Born||22 August 1760|
Genga, Papal States
|Died||10 February 1829 (aged 68)|
Rome, Papal States
|Coat of arms|
|Other popes named Leo|
Della Genga was born in 1760, at the Castello della Genga in the territory of Spoleto, to a noble family from La Genga, a small town in what is now the province of Ancona, then part of the Papal States as the sixth of ten children to Flavio della Genga and Maria Luisa Periberti di Fabriano. His brother was Filippo della Genga.
Della Genga studied theology at the Collegio Campana in Osimo from 1773 to 1778 and later at the Collegio Piceno in Rome until 1783 when he commenced studies at the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles. He later received the subdiaconate in 1782 and then the diaconate and was ordained to the priesthood on 14 June 1783; he received the latter two from Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna.
He served as an ambassador to Switzerland. In 1790 the attractive and articulate della Genga attracted favourable attention by a tactful oration commemorative of the late Emperor Joseph II. In 1794 Pope Pius VI made him a canon of Saint Peter's Basilica, and in 1793 created him Titular Archbishop of Tyre. He was consecrated in Rome in 1794 after the appointment and was despatched to Lucerne as the Apostolic Nuncio. In 1794 he was transferred to the nunciature at Cologne, but owing to the war had to make his residence in Augsburg. At this time, he believed it would be his last post and organized the construction of tombs for his mother and for himself.
During the dozen or more years he spent in Germany he was entrusted with several honourable and difficult missions, which brought him into contact with the courts of Dresden, Vienna, Munich and Württemberg, as well as with Napoleon I of France. It is charged, however, that during this period his finances were disordered, and his private life was not above suspicion. For example, he was suspected of having had a liaison with the wife of a soldier of the Swiss Guard, and he allegedly fathered three illegitimate children.
After the Napoleonic abolition of the States of the Church (1798), he lived for some years at the abbey of Monticelli, solacing himself with music and with bird-shooting, pastimes which he continued even after his election as Pope.
On 8 March 1816 he was created Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere and he received his red zucchetto on 11 March and his titular church on 29 April 1816. Later he was appointed as the Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and appointed to the episcopal see of Sinigaglia, which he resigned in 1818 due to health reasons. He resigned without ever having entered his archdiocese.
On 9 May 1820, Pope Pius VII gave him the distinguished post of Vicar-General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome.
|Papal styles of|
Pope Leo XII
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
Pope Pius VII died in 1823 after yet another long pontificate that spanned over two decades. In the conclave of 1823, della Genga was the candidate of the zelanti faction and in spite of the active opposition of France, he was elected as the new pope by the cardinals on 28 September 1823, taking the name of Leo XII.
His election had been facilitated because he was thought to be close to death, but he unexpectedly rallied. He had even remarked about his own health to the cardinals, saying that they would be electing "a dead man". It was said in the conclave that he lifted his robes to show the cardinals a pair of swollen and ulcerated legs to deter them, but that made them even more eager to elect him.
Leo XII was 63 at the time of his election and frequently fell victim to infirmities. He was tall and thin with an ascetic look and a melancholic countenance. He fell ill after his coronation but after his recovery, he showed surprising endurance in carrying out his work. Leo XII devoted himself to his work and was simple in his mode of life. He had a passion for shooting birds and was rumored to have killed a peasant with whom he argued about sporting rights.
The cardinal protodeacon Fabrizio Ruffo crowned him as pontiff on 5 October 1823.
Pius VII's Secretary of State, Ercole Consalvi, who had been Della Genga's rival in the conclave, was immediately dismissed, and Pius' policies rejected. Leo XII's foreign policy, entrusted at first to the octogenarian Giulio Maria della Somaglia and then to the more able Tommaso Bernetti, negotiated certain concordats very advantageous to the papacy. Personally most frugal, Leo XII reduced taxes, made justice less costly, and was able to find money for certain public improvements, yet he left the Church's finances more confused than he had found them, and even the elaborate jubilee of 1825 did not really mend financial matters.
Leo XII's domestic policy was one of extreme conservatism: "He was determined to change the condition of society, bringing it back to the utmost of his power to the old usages and ordinances, which he deemed to be admirable; and he pursued that object with never flagging zeal." He condemned the Bible societies, and under Jesuit influence reorganised the educational system, placing it entirely under priestly control through his bull Quod divina sapientia and requiring that all secondary instruction be carried out in Latin, as he required of all court proceedings, also now entirely in ecclesiastical hands. All charitable institutions in the Papal States were put under direct supervision.
Laws such as that forbidding Jews to own property and allowing them only the shortest possible time in which to sell what they owned, and that requiring all Roman residents to listen to Catholic catechism commentary, led many of Rome's Jews to emigrate, to Trieste, Lombardy and Tuscany.
"The results of his method of governing his states soon showed themselves in insurrections, conspiracies, assassinations and rebellion, especially in Umbria, the Marches and Romagna; the violent repression of which, by a system of espionage, secret denunciation, and wholesale application of the gibbet and the galleys, left behind it to those who were to come afterwards a very terrible, rankling and long-enduring debt of party hatreds, of political and social demoralisation, and— worst of all— a contempt for and enmity to the law, as such." In a regime that saw the division of the population into Carbonari and Sanfedisti, he hunted down the Carbonari and the Freemasons with their liberal sympathisers.
According to some contemporary authors such as G. S. Godkin, Leo XII was also said to have prohibited vaccination. More recent scholarship has been unable to find any ban or any suggestion of a ban by Leo XII and his administration. Donald J. Keefe in his paper "Tracking the footnote" traced a quote by Leo XII which strongly condemned vaccination to "an unverified citation" by Dr. Pierre Simon in Le Contredes Naissances. The response of the Papacy to the arrival of vaccination in Italy has been documented in Pratique de la vaccination antivariolique dans les provinces de l’État pontifical au 19ème siècle, an article written by Yves-Marie Bercé and Jean-Claude Otteni for Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique. According to Bercé and Otteni, the biographers and contemporaries of Leo XII do not mention any interdict. The authors credit the origin of the mythical vaccination ban of Leo XII to the personality of Cardinal Della Genga when he became pope in 1823. His intransigence and piety alienated liberal opinion very quickly. His austere spirituality made him the target of criticisms and mocking remarks. English travelers visiting the peninsula and many of the diplomats established in Rome remarked on the severity of the pontiff.
The absence of a prohibition is evidenced by the fact that in 1828 the Medical-Surgical Society of Bologna was able to implement a vaccination campaign.
Leo XII beatified a number of individuals in his pontificate which totaled at 15. He beatified: Angelina di Marsciano and Bernardo Scammacca (8 March 1825), Hippolytus Galantini (29 June 1825), Angelus of Gualdo Tadino (3 August 1825) and Angelus of Acri (18 December 1825). He also beatified in 1825: Julian of Saint Augustine , Alonso Rodriguez and James Grissinger. He beatified Imelda Lambertini (20 December 1826) and also confirmed the cultus of Jordan of Saxony in 1826. He also beatified Helen of Poland and Maddalena Panattieri on 26 September 1827 as well as Giovanna Soderini (1827) and Helen Duglioli and Juana de Aza (the mother of Saint Dominic) in 1828. Leo XII also created Peter Damian a Doctor of the Church in 1828 in addition to the formal canonization he presided over.
He collaborated with Vincent Strambi – future saint – who served as his advisor. When he was on the brink of death in 1825, Strambi offered himself to God for the survival of the pope. The pope rallied from his ailment, but Strambi died.
The pope also approved the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate on 17 February 1826 when he gave it official recognition.
He held 8 consistories in which he elevated 25 new cardinals into the cardinalate. This included Cardinal Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari – the future Pope Gregory XVI – on 13 March 1826.
Leo XII made himself unpopular with the people due to the fact that he constrained them to endless rules that concerned private life and public affairs. He decreed that a dressmaker who sold low or transparent dresses would incur ipso facto excommunication. The pope also denied the Jews the right to possess material possessions and allowed them the shortest time to sell their belongings. He revived the regulations of the Middle Ages in regards to segregation and marks for identification.
On 5 February 1829, after a private audience with the new Cardinal Secretary of State, Tommaso Bernetti, he was suddenly taken ill and he seemed to know that his end was near. On 8 February, he asked for and received the Viaticum and was anointed. On 9 February, he lapsed into unconsciousness and on the next morning, he died. He was buried in a monument of him in Saint Peter's Basilica on 15 February 1829. His remains were transferred and buried before the altar of Pope Leo I on 5 December 1830.
Leo XII is considered to have been a man of noble character, with a passion for order and efficiency, but one who lacked insight into the temporal developments of his time. His rule was unpopular in Rome and in the Papal States, and by various measures of his reign he diminished greatly for his successors their chances of solving the new problems that confronted them.
It was alleged that Leo XII had a liaison as a prelate with the wife of a Swiss Guard (known as Pfiffer) and later fathered three illegitimate children while acting as the nuncio in the German kingdom. The first allegation was brought to the attention of Pope Pius VI, who met with the prelate to discern the truth of the matter. He refuted all claims to the pope and the matter was dropped then and there save for the fact that Della Genga affirmed he was close to Pfiffer.
|Catholic Church titles|
Last known title holder:Vincenzo Ranuzzi
| Titular Archbishop of Tyre
21 February 1794 – 8 March 1816
| Archbishop of Senigallia
8 March 1816 – 18 September 1816
Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata
Giovanni Gallarati Scotti
| Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
10 February 1818 – 28 September 1829
28 September 1823 – 10 February 1829
The papal conclave of 1823, was convoked following the death of Pope Pius VII on 20 August 1823. The conclave began on 2 September and ended 26 days later with the election of Cardinal Annibale della Genga who became Pope Leo XII.
Pius VII had reigned as Pope for what was then considered a very long pontificate (he was elected in 1800). During his reign as Pope, the Catholic Church had faced, in the French Revolution and its aftermath, a severe attack on its power and legitimacy.1829 papal conclave
The papal conclave of 1829 to elect a successor to Pope Leo XII after his death on 10 February 1829 began on 24 February 1829.
It took a long time for the conclave to elect a new pope due to conflict between secular governments concerning who should be elected. Cardinal Emmanuele De Gregorio was the proposed candidate of the pro-French faction and the zelanti (conservative cardinals), whilst Bartolomeo Pacca was proposed by the more moderate cardinals but was not accepted by the French government of the Bourbon Restoration period. At the time, France was governed by Charles X and Prime Minister Jean Baptiste Gay, vicomte de Martignac. Pacca was also seen by many in the conclave as being too gentle to be an effective Pope.Apostolic Prefecture of the Sandwich Islands
The Prefecture Apostolic of the Sandwich Islands or the Sandwich Isles Mission (Latin: Praefectura Apostolica Sandwigiensis in Oceania), was an ecclesiastical territory of the Roman Catholic Church created by Pope Leo XII on November 27, 1825, encompassing the Sandwich Islands (now the state of Hawai‘i) and entrusted to the care of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Father Alexis Bachelot, SS.CC., was the only Prefect. The Prefecture was made subject to the newly created Vicariate Apostolic of Oriental Oceania on June 2, 1833. The present-day successor to the prefecture is the Diocese of Honolulu.Barthélemy Bruguière
Barthélemy Bruguière (February 12, 1792 – October 20, 1835) was the first Apostolic Vicar of Korea and former Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of Siam.Bernardo Scammacca
Blessed Bernardo Scammacca (1430 - 11 January 1487) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest from the Order of Preachers after leading a dissolute life; his conversion after a sustaining a wound from a duel led him down the path towards a religious life. He became a noted prophet and spent hours in the confessional.Scammacca was beatified on 8 March 1825 after Pope Leo XII confirmed his 'cultus' (or local devotion).Chaplet of the Five Wounds
The Chaplet of the Five Wounds is a Passionist chaplet devoted to the Holy Wounds of Jesus, as a means to promote devotion to the Passion of Christ.The chaplet is due to Father Paul Aloysius, the sixth superior general of the Passionists. The devotion also honors the mystery of the risen Christ which has the marks of the Five Wounds. Pope Leo XII approved the chaplet in 1823.This chaplet must be blessed by the Passionist superior or a delegation from him.Elena Duglioli
Blessed Elena Duglioli (1472 - 23 September 1520) was an Italian Roman Catholic aristocrat from Bologna noted for her devotion to Christian life and social teachings. Duglioli wanted to become a nun for the Poor Clares but instead married in order to please her parents. Duglioli is best known for commissioning a chapel with an image of Saint Cecilia to whom she was devoted.
Her beatification received confirmation from Pope Leo XII on 26 March 1828 after the approval of her local 'cultus' (or popular devotion). Cardinal Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini - the future Pope Benedict XIV - spoke for her beatification cause while it was in its initial stages and included the example of her cultus as part of his work "De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et Beatorum Canonizatione".Genga, Marche
Genga is a town and comune of province of Ancona in the Italian region of the Marche, on the Sentino river about 7 kilometres (4 mi) downstream and east of Sassoferrato and 12 kilometres (7 mi) north of Fabriano.
The town is best known as the ancestral home of the noble family of the della Genga, the most famous member of which was Pope Leo XII.Giovanni Battista Bussi (1755–1844)
Giovanni Battista Bussi (Viterbo, 23 January 1755 – Benevento, 31 January 1844) was an Italian cleric. He was raised to cardinal by pope Leo XII in the consistory of 3 May 1824.Giovanni de Surdis Cacciafronte
Blessed Giovanni de Surdis Cacciafronte (1125 - 16 March 1184) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and bishop from the Order of Saint Benedict. He served as the Bishop of Mantua from 1174 until his resignation in 1177 and held the position of Bishop of Vicenza from 1179 until his murder. The schism that Antipope Victor IV caused enabled him to proclaim his support for Pope Alexander III though leading to his removal from a position at the behest of Frederick Barbarossa.The beatification cause commenced in 1222 under Pope Honorius III and culminated on 30 March 1824 when his beatification received formal ratification from Pope Leo XII upon the confirmation of the late bishop's enduring local 'cultus' - or popular devotion.Jordan of Saxony
The Blessed Jordan of Saxony, O.P. (referred to in Latin as Jordanis, also known as de Alamania; c. 1190 – 1237), was one of the first leaders of the Dominican Order. His feast day is February 13.Leonina
Leonina may refer to:
Leonina (coin), a coin issued under Pope Leo XII : see Papal mint
Civitas Leonina, the Leonine City, a part of the city of RomeLocum Beati Petri
Locum Beati Petri was a papal bull issued by Pope Leo XII on 30 June 1828, reorganizing the ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Dalmatia.The bull degraded Archdiocese of Split to the level of the diocese. The Diocese of Makarska was merged with the Diocese of Split creating the Diocese of Split-Makarska. The diocese became subject of the Archdiocese of Zadar which was proclaimed seat of the Dalmatian ecclesiastical province.The Archdiocese of Dubrovnik was also degraded to the level of the diocese. The Diocese of Poreč was merged with the Diocese of Pula creating Diocese of Poreč-Pula. Eight dioceses were abolished: Diocese of Korčula, Diocese of Ston, Diocese of Novigrad, Diocese of Osor, Diocese of Rab, Diocese of Skradin, Diocese of Nin and Diocese of Trogir.Nicola Paglia
Blessed Nicola Paglia (1197 - 16 February 1256) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Preachers. Paglia became a Dominican after hearing Saint Dominic preach in Bologna and exhibited exceptional pastoral zeal in his duties which included being appointed as provincial of the Roman branch of Dominicans.Paglia had popular devotion that endured in the centuries after his death and the confirmation of this devotion - or 'cultus' - allowed for Pope Leo XII to confirm the late priest's beatification on 26 March 1828.Province of Ancona
The province of Ancona (Italian: provincia di Ancona) is a province in the Marche region of central Italy. Its capital is the city of Ancona, and the province borders the Adriatic Sea. The city of Ancona is also the capital of Marche.To the north, the province is bordered by the Adriatic Sea, and the Apennine Mountains to the west. The population of the province is mostly located in coastal areas and in the provincial capital Ancona, which has a population of 101,518; the province has a total population of 477,892 as of 2015. Due to its coastal location, it is strategically important. The president of the province is Liana Serrani.Its coastline of sandy beaches is popular to Italians but has not been greatly affected by tourism. A large area of the province's land is farmland often used for wine production; the province produces wines using the Montepulciano, Sangiovese, and Verdicchio varieties of grape. Annually, feasts occur in the province during the harvesting period. It contains mountainous regions and the Conero Regional Park, which contain dense forests where black truffles are found. These are sold in Acqualagna in the neighbouring province of Pesaro e Urbino.
Famous people born of the province of Ancona include Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (Jesi); International Gothic painter Gentile da Fabriano (Fabriano); writer Rafael Sabatini (Jesi); composer Gaspare Spontini (Maiolati, which has since been named after him as Maiolati Spontini); composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (Jesi); mathematician and physicist Vito Volterra (Ancona); footballer Roberto Mancini (Jesi); Pope Leo XII (Genga); Pope Pius IX (Senigallia); and actress Virna Lisi (Jesi).Quo graviora (1825)
Quo graviora was an apostolic constitution promulgated by Pope Leo XII on March 13, 1825, in which he decreed the prohibition of membership in Masonic Lodges in perpetuity.Quod divina sapientia
The papal bull Quod Divina Sapientia, issued by Pope Leo XII 28 August 1824, organised all public instruction in the Papal States under ecclesiastical supervision. Ancient autonomies of the old universities were abolished, streamlining their hierarchies, a progressive move, but placing them under the immediate supervision of the Pontifical state by means of a congregation of cardinals that was to function in essence as a ministry of public education, with, among its duties, the prerogative of selecting professors to fill established university chairs. Cardinal Wiseman observed approvingly that to the Congregation "belongs the duty of approving, correcting, or rejecting, changes suggested by the different faculties; of filling up vacancies in chairs; and watching over the discipline, morals and principles of all the universities and other schools." Cardinal Wiseman notes that professorships were thrown open in public competition, open to "such competitors as had sent in satisfactory testimonials of character." An exception to open competition was made in the case of those who had published a work that would sufficiently attest to its author's competency. The nihil obstat for publication served as a first control against unacceptable opinions in print, sanctioned by an imprimatur
Francesco Cardinal Bertazzoli, examiner of bishops in theology, was immediately appointed prefect; Bartazzoli had headed the commission of cardinals examining prospects for reforming the pontifical universities.Scientific courses at the University of Perugia were brought under the Faculty of Philosophy, where they could be monitored in detail. Unsupervised instruction was forbidden; at Viterbo, the courses being given at the Ospedale Grande degli Infermi were interrupted under the provisions of Quod Divina Sapientia, when ecclesiastical officials forced the hospital to limit its activities to the treatment of patients.With the Unification of Italy, a series of decrees by Vittorio Emanuele, 1860-62 freed the universities in the former States of the Church from ecclesiastical supervision.Villana de' Botti
Blessed Villana de' Botti (1332 - 29 January 1361) was an Italian Roman Catholic professed member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. She turned to the Dominicans after a sudden conversion from a dissolute life and was noted for her simplistic life born out of her conversion. She was a pious and devoted child but after she was married she fell into secular values rather than following her faith. De' Botti had fierce detractors due to her stating she had religious ecstasies at Mass - which was true - and these opponents had even acknowledged her as a true living saint.
The confirmation of her local 'cultus' on 27 March 1824 allowed for Pope Leo XII to approve her beatification.
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
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Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
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|History of the papacy|
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