Pope Pius VII (14 August 1742 – 20 August 1823), born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti,[a] was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 14 March 1800 to his death in 1823. Chiaramonti was also a monk of the Order of Saint Benedict in addition to being a well-known theologian and bishop throughout his life.
Chiaramonti was made Bishop of Tivoli in 1782, and resigned that position upon his appointment as Bishop of Imola in 1785. That same year, he was made a cardinal. In 1789, the French Revolution took place, and as a result a series of anti-clerical governments came into power in the country. In 1796, during the French Revolutionary Wars, French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Rome and took as prisoner Pope Pius VI. He was taken as prisoner to France, where he died in 1799. The following year, after a sede vacante period lasting approximately six months, Chiaramonti was elected to the papacy, taking the name Pius VII.
Pius at first attempted to take a cautious approach in dealing with Napoleon. With him he signed the Concordat of 1801, through which he succeeded in guaranteeing religious freedom for Catholics living in France, and was present at his coronation as Emperor of the French in 1804. In 1809, however, during the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon once again invaded the Papal States, resulting in his excommunication. Pius VII was taken prisoner and transported to France. He remained there until 1814 when, after the French were defeated, he was permitted to return to Rome, where he was greeted warmly as a hero and defender of the faith.
Pius lived the remainder of his life in relative peace. His papacy saw a significant growth of the Catholic Church in the United States, where Pius established several new dioceses. Pius VII died in 1823 at age 81.
Servant of God, Pope
|Bishop of Rome|
|Papacy began||14 March 1800|
|Papacy ended||20 August 1823|
|Ordination||21 September 1765|
|Consecration||21 December 1782|
by Francesco Saverio de Zelada
|Created cardinal||14 February 1785|
by Pius VI
|Birth name||Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti|
|Born||14 August 1742|
Cesena, Papal States
|Died||20 August 1823 (aged 81)|
Rome, Papal States
|Motto||Aquila Rapax ("Rapacious eagle")|
|Coat of arms|
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
|Title as Saint||Servant of God|
|Other popes named Pius|
Barnaba Chiaramonti was born in Cesena in 1742, the youngest son of Count Scipione Chiaramonti (30 April 1698 - 13 September 1750. His mother, Giovanna Coronata (d. 22 November 1777), was the daughter of the Marquess Ghini; through her, the future Pope Pius VII was related to the Braschi family of Pope Pius VI after marriage on 10 November 1713. Though his family was of noble status, they were not wealthy but rather, were of middle-class stock.
His maternal grandparents were Barnaba Eufrasio Ghini and Isabella de' conti Aguselli. His paternal grandparents were Giacinto Chiaramonti (1673-1725) and Ottavia Maria Altini; his paternal great-grandparents were Scipione Chiaramonti (1642-1677) and Ottavia Maria Aldini. His paternal great-great grandparents were Chiaramonte Chiaramonti and Polissena Marescalchi.
His siblings were Giacinto Ignazio (19 September 1731 - 7 June 1805), Tommaso (19 December 1732 - 8 December 1799) and Ottavia (1 June 1738 - 7 May 1814).
Like his brothers, he attended the Collegio dei Nobili in Ravenna but decided to join the Order of Saint Benedict at the age of 14 on 2 October 1756 as a novice at the Abbey of Santa Maria del Monte in Cesena. Two years after this on 20 August 1758, he became a professed member and assumed the name of Gregorio. He taught at Benedictine colleges in Parma and Rome, and was ordained a priest on 21 September 1765.
A series of promotions resulted after his relative, Giovanni Angelo Braschi was elected Pope Pius VI (1775–99). A few years before this election occurred, in 1773, Chiaramonti became the personal confessor to Braschi. In 1776, Pius VI appointed the 34-year-old Dom Gregory, who had been teaching at the Monastery of Sant'Anselmo in Rome, as honorary abbot in commendam of his monastery. Although this was an ancient practice, it drew complaints from the monks of the community, as monastic communities generally felt it was not in keeping with the Rule of St. Benedict.
In December 1782, the pope appointed Dom Gregory as the Bishop of Tivoli, near Rome. Pius VI soon named him, in February 1785, the Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, and as the Bishop of Imola, an office he held until 1816.
When the French Revolutionary Army invaded Italy in 1797, Cardinal Chiaramonti counseled temperance and submission to the newly created Cisalpine Republic. In a letter that he addressed to the people of his diocese, Chiaramonti asked them to comply "... in the current circumstances of change of government (...)" to the authority of the victorious general Commander-in-Chief of the French army. In his Christmas homily that year, he asserted that there was no opposition between a democratic form of government and being a good Catholic: "Christian virtue makes men good democrats.... Equality is not an idea of philosophers but of Christ...and do not believe that the Catholic religion is against democracy."
|Papal styles of|
Pope Pius VII
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
|Posthumous style||Servant of God|
Following the death of Pope Pius VI, by then virtually France's prisoner, at Valence in 1799, the conclave to elect his successor met on 30 November 1799 in the Benedictine Monastery of San Giorgio in Venice. There were three main candidates, two of whom proved to be unacceptable to the Habsburgs, whose candidate, Alessandro Mattei, could not secure sufficient votes. However, Carlo Bellisomi also was a candidate, though not favoured by Austrian cardinals; a "virtual veto" was imposed against him in the name of Franz II and carried out by Cardinal Franziskus Herzan von Harras.
After several months of stalemate, Jean-Sifrein Maury proposed Chiaramonti as a compromise candidate. On 14 March 1800, Chiaramonti was elected pope, certainly not the choice of die-hard opponents of the French Revolution, and took as his pontifical name Pius VII in honour of his immediate predecessor. He was crowned on 21 March in a rather unusual ceremony, wearing a papier-mâché papal tiara as the French had seized the tiaras held by the Holy See when occupying Rome and forcing Pius VI into exile. He then left for Rome, sailing on a barely seaworthy Austrian ship, the Bellona, which lacked even a galley. The twelve-day voyage ended at Pesaro and he proceeded to Rome.
One of Pius VII's first acts was appointing the minor cleric Ercole Consalvi, who had performed so ably as secretary to the recent conclave, to the College of Cardinals and to the office of Cardinal Secretary of State. Consalvi immediately left for France, where he was able to negotiate the Concordat of 1801 with the First Consul Napoleon. While not effecting a return to the old Christian order, the treaty did provide certain civil guarantees to the Church, acknowledging "the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion" as that of the "majority of French citizens".
The main terms of the concordat between France and the pope included:
As pope, he followed a policy of cooperation with the French-established Republic and Empire. He was present at the coronation of Napoleon I in 1804. He even participated in France's Continental Blockade of Great Britain, over the objections of his Secretary of State Consalvi, who was forced to resign. Despite this, France occupied and annexed the Papal States in 1809 and took Pius VII as their prisoner, exiling him to Savona. On 15 November 1809 Pius VII consecrated the church at La Voglina, Valenza Po, Piemonte with the intention of the villa La Voglina becoming his spiritual base whilst in exile. Unfortunately his residency was short lived once Napoleon became aware of his intentions of establishing a permanent base and he was soon exiled to France. Despite this, the pope continued to refer to Napoleon as "my dear son" but added that he was "a somewhat stubborn son, but a son still".
This exile ended only when Pius VII signed the Concordat of Fontainebleau in 1813. One result of this new treaty was the release of the exiled cardinals, including Consalvi, who, upon re-joining the papal retinue, persuaded Pius VII to revoke the concessions he had made in it. This Pius VII began to do in March 1814, which led the French authorities to re-arrest many of the opposing prelates. Their confinement, however, lasted only a matter of weeks, as Napoleon abdicated on 11 April of that year. As soon as Pius VII returned to Rome, he immediately revived the Inquisition and the Index of Condemned Books.
Pius VII's imprisonment did in fact come with one bright side for him. It gave him an aura that recognized him as a living martyr, so that when he arrived back in Rome in May 1814, he was greeted most warmly by the Italians as a hero.
From the time of his election as pope to the fall of Napoleon in 1815, Pius VII's reign was completely taken up in dealing with France. He and the Emperor were continually in conflict, often involving the French military leader's wishes for concessions to his demands. Pius VII wanted his own release from exile as well as the return of the Papal States, and, later on, the release of the 13 "Black Cardinals", i.e., the Cardinals, including Consalvi, who had snubbed the marriage of Napoleon to Princess Marie Louise, believing that his previous marriage was still valid, and had been exiled and impoverished in consequence of their stand, along with several exiled or imprisoned prelates, priests, monks, nuns and other various supporters.
On 7 March 1801, Pius VII issued the brief "Catholicae fidei" that approved the existence of the Society of Jesus in Russia and appointed its first superior general as Franciszek Kareu. This was the first step in the restoration of the order. On 31 July 1814, he signed the papal bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum which universally restored the Society of Jesus. He appointed Tadeusz Brzozowski as the Superior General of the order.
Pius VII joined the declaration of the 1815 Congress of Vienna, represented by Cardinal Secretary of State Ercole Consalvi, and urged the suppression of the slave trade. This pertained particularly to places such as Spain and Portugal where slavery was economically very important. The pope wrote a letter to King Louis XVIII of France dated 20 September 1814 and to the King John VI of Portugal in 1823 to urge the end of slavery. He condemned the slave trade and defined the sale of people as an injustice to the dignity of the human person. In his letter to the King of Portugal, he wrote: "the pope regrets that this trade in blacks, that he believed having ceased, is still exercised in some regions and even more cruel way. He begs and begs the King of Portugal that it implement all its authority and wisdom to extirpate this unholy and abominable shame."
Under Napoleonic rule, the Jewish Ghetto had been abolished and Jews were free to live and move where they would. Following the restoration of Papal rule, Pius VII re-instituted the confinement of Jews to the Ghetto, having the doors closed at nighttime.
Pius VII issued an encyclical "Diu satis" in order to advocate a return to the values of the Gospel and universalized the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows for 15 September. He condemned Freemasonry and the movement of the Carbonari in the encyclical Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo in 1821. Pius VII asserted that Freemasons must be excommunicated and it linked them with the Carbonari, an anti-clerical revolutionary group in Italy. All members of the Carbonari were also excommunicated.
Pius VII was multilingual and had the ability to speak Italian, French, English and Latin.
Pius VII was a man of culture and attempted to reinvigorate Rome with archaeological excavations in Ostia which revealed ruins and icons from ancient times. He also had walls and other buildings rebuilt and restored the Arch of Constantine. He ordered the construction of fountains and piazzas and erected the obelisk at Monte Pincio.
The pope also made sure Rome was a place for artists and the leading artists of the time like Antonio Canova and Peter von Cornelius. He also enriched the Vatican Library with numerous manuscripts and books. It was Pius VII who adopted the yellow and white flag of the Holy See as a response to the Napoleonic invasion of 1808.
Throughout his pontificate, Pius VII canonized a total of five saints. On 24 May 1807, Pius VII canonized Angela Merici, Benedict the Moor, Colette Boylet, Francis Caracciolo and Hyacintha Mariscotti. He beatified a total of 27 individuals including Joseph Oriol, Berardo dei Marsi, Giuseppe Maria Tomasi and Crispin of Viterbo.
Pius VII created 99 cardinals in nineteen consistories including notable ecclesial figures of that time such as Ercole Consalvi, Bartolomeo Pacca, and Carlo Odescalchi. The pope also named his two immediate successors as cardinals: Annibale della Genga and Francesco Saverio Castiglioni (the latter of whom it is said Pius VII and his successor would refer to as "Pius VIII").
On 15 August 1811 - the Feast of the Assumption - it is recorded that the pope celebrated Mass and was said to have entered a trance and began to levitate in a manner that drew him to the altar. This particular episode aroused great wonder and awe among attendants which included the French soldiers guarding him who were in disbelief of what had occurred.
On the United States' undertaking of the First Barbary War to suppress the Muslim Barbary pirates along the southern Mediterranean coast, ending their kidnapping of Europeans for ransom and slavery, Pius VII declared that the United States "had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages."
For the United States, he established several new dioceses in 1808 for Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Bardstown. In 1821, he also established the dioceses of Charleston, Richmond and Cincinnati.
On 3 June 1816, Pius VII condemned the works of Melkite bishop Germanos Adam. Adam's writings supported conciliarism, the view that the authority of ecumenical councils was greater than that of the papacy.
In 1822, Pius VII reached his 80th birthday and his health was visibly declining. On 6 July 1823, he fractured his hip in a fall in the papal apartments and was bedridden from that point onward. In his final weeks he would often lose consciousness and would mutter the names of the cities that he had been ferried away to by the French forces. With the Cardinal Secretary of State Ercole Consalvi at his side, Pius VII succumbed to his injury on 20 August at 5 a.m.
An application to commence beatification proceedings were lodged to the Holy See on 10 July 2006 and received the approval of Cardinal Camillo Ruini (Vicar of Rome) who transferred the request to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Congregation - on 24 February 2007 - approved the opening of the cause responding to the call of the Ligurian bishops.
On 15 August 2007, the Holy See contacted the diocese of Savona-Noli with the news that Pope Benedict XVI had declared "nihil obstat" (nothing stands against) the cause of beatification of the late pontiff, thus opening the diocesan process for this pope's beatification. He now has the title of Servant of God. The official text declaring the opening of the cause was: "Summus Pontifex Benedictus XVI declarant, ex parte Sanctae Sedis, nihil preclude quominus in Cause Beatificationis et Canonizationis Servi Dei Pii Barnabae Gregorii VII Chiaramonti". Work on the cause commenced the following month in gathering documentation on the late pope.
In late 2018 the Bishop of Savona announced that the cause for Pius VII would continue following the completion of initial preparation and investigation. The bishop named a new postulator and a diocesan tribunal which would begin work into the cause.
The first postulator for the cause was Father Giovanni Farris (2007-18) and the current postulator since 2018 is Fr. Giovanni Margara.
|Catholic Church titles|
Giulio Matteo Natali
| Bishop of Tivoli
16 December 1782 – 14 February 1785
Giovanni Battista Banfi
Giovanni Carlo Bandi
| Bishop of Imola
14 February 1785 – 8 March 1816
Antonio Lamberto Rusconi
Tommaso Maria Ghilini
| Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto
26 June 1785 - 14 March 1800
Carlo Giuseppe Filippa della Martiniana
14 March 1800 – 20 August 1823
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.Angela Merici
Angela Merici, or Angela de Merici (Italian: [ˈandʒela (de) meˈriːtʃi]; 21 March 1474 – 27 January 1540), was an Italian religious educator, who is honored as a saint by the Catholic Church. She found the Company of St. Ursula in 1535 in Brescia, in which women dedicated their lives to the service of the Church through the education of girls. From this organisation later sprang the monastic Order of Ursulines, whose nuns established places of prayer and learning throughout Europe and, later, worldwide, most notably in North America.Cardinals created by Pius VII
Pope Pius VII (r. 1800–1823) created 99 cardinals in 19 consistories.Concordat of 1801
The Concordat of 1801 was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, signed on 15 July 1801 in Paris. It remained in effect until 1905. It sought national reconciliation between revolutionaries and Catholics and solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France, with most of its civil status restored. The hostility of devout French Catholics against the state had then largely been resolved. It did not restore the vast church lands and endowments that had been seized upon during the revolution and sold off. Catholic clergy returned from exile, or from hiding, and resumed their traditional positions in their traditional churches. Very few parishes continued to employ the priests who had accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary regime. While the Concordat restored much power to the papacy, the balance of church-state relations tilted firmly in Napoleon's favour. He selected the bishops and supervised church finances.Napoleon and the pope both found the Concordat useful. Similar arrangements were made with the Church in territories controlled by Napoleon, especially Italy and Germany.Esprit-Marie-Joseph Florens
Esprit-Marie-Joseph Florens (June 4, 1762 – March 30, 1834) was the Vicar Apostolic of Siam.Giulio Rossi (bishop of Pescia)
Bishop Giulio Rossi (4 Jul 1754 – 2 Feb 1833) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Pescia (1804–1833).Grand Master of the Sacred Apostolic Hospice
The Grand Master of the Sacred Apostolic Hospice (Gran Maestro del Sacro Ospizio), or Quartermaster-General of the Sacred Palaces, is an hereditary official of the Pontifical Household. The title and office became hereditary on June 28, 1808, when Pope Pius VII appointed Prince Francesco Ruspoli as Grand Master.The Grand Master is a Participating Privy Chamberlain and the sole lay member of the Noble Privy Antechamber, as well as a Participating Privy Chamberlain of the Sword and Cape (made up of laymen, traditionally holding hereditary posts).
From 1808 with Francesco Ruspoli, 3rd prince of Cerveteri, the Ruspoli family assumed the office of Grand Master of the Sacred Hospice and succeeded in the Conti family.Il Marchese del Grillo
Il Marchese del Grillo ("The Marquess Del Grillo", internationally released as The Marquis of Grillo) is a 1981 Italian comedic motion picture directed by Mario Monicelli, starring Alberto Sordi as the title character. The film depicts early nineteenth-century episodes in the life of a nobleman in Rome. Loosely based on folkloric accounts of the real Onofrio del Grillo (who lived in the eighteenth century), this character plays a number of pranks, one even involving Pope Pius VII. The famous line Io sò io, e voi non siete un cazzo (literally "I am who I am, and you are fucking nobody"), is appropriated from Belli's 1831 sonnet, "The Sovrans of the Old World".Le più colte
Le più colte (literally, "the most cultured") was an apostolic letter produced by Pope Pius VII in the first year of his pontificate (1801) in the form of a motu proprio, written in Italian, which set out drastic reforms in agricultural policy within the Papal States.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.Napoleon Tiara
The Napoleon Tiara was a papal tiara given to Pope Pius VII in June 1805 a few months after he presided at the coronation of Napoleon I and Joséphine de Beauharnais. While lavishly decorated with jewels, it was deliberately too small and heavy to be worn and meant as an insult to the pope. In the painting of The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David, the tiara is held behind the pope by one of his aides.Noble Guard (Vatican)
The Noble Guard (Italian: Guardia Nobile) was one of the household guard units serving the Pope. It was formed by Pope Pius VII in 1801 as a regiment of heavy cavalry. Conceived as the Pope's personal guard, the unit provided a mounted escort for the Pope when he moved about Rome in his carriage and mounted guard outside his apartments in the papal palaces. The guardsmen were also available for special missions within the Papal States at the behest of the pope. One of their first major duties was to escort Pius VII to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte.Nogent-sur-Vernisson
Nogent-sur-Vernisson is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.
It has a population of approximately 2,000 (2012). The main employer in the town is the CIMRG plant which manufactures components for Renault cars and employs some 800 people.
Nogent-sur-Vernisson is the site of the Arboretum national des Barres, adjacent to which is a division of the research agency Irstea (formerly Cemagref), which works to conserve the genetic resources of native trees.The town has a 12th-century AD church of St Martin in which Pope Pius VII celebrated Mass while on his way to the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804. There are also remains of walls from Roman times.Papal travel
Papal travel outside Rome has been historically rare, and voluntary travel was non-existent for the first 500 years. Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) undertook more pastoral trips than all his predecessors combined. Pope Francis (2013-), Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) also travelled globally, the latter to a lesser extent due to his advanced age.
Popes resided outside Rome—primarily in Viterbo, Orvieto, and Perugia—during the 13th century, and then absconded to France during the Avignon Papacy (1309–1378). Pope Vigilius (537-555) in 547, Pope Agatho (678-681) in 680, and Pope Constantine in 710 visited Constantinople, whereas Pope Martin I (649-655) was abducted there for trial in 653. Pope Stephen II (752-757) became the first pope to cross the Alps in 752 to crown Pepin the Short; Pope Pius VII repeated the feat over a millennium later to crown Napoleon.Portrait of Pope Pius VII
The Portrait of Pope Pius VII is an 1805 portrait of Pope Pius VII by the French painter Jacques-Louis David to thank the pope for assisting at the coronation of Napoleon I of France. Pope Pius appears in David's The Coronation of Napoleon, depicted as blessing the emperor, when in fact he was merely a spectator, assisting at the ceremony with a resigned expression throughout.Roman Catholic Diocese of Strongoli
The Diocese of Strongoli was a Roman Catholic diocese in Italy, located in the city of Strongoli, Calabria. In 1818, it was suppressed, with the bull De utiliori of Pope Pius VII, and his territory was absorbed in the Diocese of Cariati.Roman Catholic Diocese of Umbriatico
The Diocese of Umbriatico (also Diocese of Umbriaticum) (Latin: Dioecesis Umbriaticensis) was a Roman Catholic diocese located in the town of Umbriatico in the province of Crotone in southern Italian region of Calabria. In 1818, it was suppressed with the bull De utiliori of Pope Pius VII, and incorporated in the diocese of Cariati.Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum
Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum (The care of all Churches) was a papal bull issued in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, reestablishing the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) after its suppression by the 1773 bull issued by Clement XIV, Dominus ac Redemptor. Nevertheless, the order continued to exist in some places. Pius VII had earlier, with the brief Catholicae Fidei (March 7, 1801), approved the existence of the Society of Jesus in Russia. The Vicar General, Franciszek Kareu, was declared "Superior General of the Jesuits in Russia."Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter, also named Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, on June 24, 1969.Spinetta Marengo
Spinetta Marengo (Piedmontese: Marengh) is a town in Piedmont, Italy located within the municipal boundaries of the comune of Alessandria. The population is 6,417.On 14 June 1800 the village was the scene of an important battle between the French army commanded by Napoleon and an Austrian army led by Melas. Every second Sunday in June, there is traditionally a costumed commemoration of the battle, drawing many international visitors. According to local legend, Majno, a thief who was said to have robbed Pope Pius VII while on his way to Paris in 1804 to crown Napoleon emperor, laid up in hiding in the woods of Fraschetta, just by Spinetta Marengo.The famous dish Chicken Marengo is named after the town. According to legend, Napoleon's chef created the dish from the few ingredients he could find after the battle, using a sabre instead of a cooking knife.
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
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|History of the papacy|
|Early Middle Ages|
|High Middle Ages|
|Late Middle Ages|
of the faithful