POPE PIUS VII (14 August 1742 – 20 August 1823), born BARNABA
NICCOLò MARIA LUIGI CHIARAMONTI, reigned as
Pope 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
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
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 ,
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
Pope Benedict XVI began the process towards canonizing him
as a saint, and he was granted the title
Servant of God .
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early life
* 1.2 Episcopate and cardinalate
* 2 Papacy
* 2.1 Election
* 2.2 Negotiations and exile
* 2.3 Relationship with
* 2.4 Restoration of the Jesuits
* 2.5 Opposition to slavery
* 2.6 Other activities
* 2.7 Cultural innovations
* 2.8 Canonizations and beatifications
* 2.9 The "miracle" of Pius VII
* 2.10 Relationship with the
* 2.11 Condemnation of heresy
* 2.12 Death and burial
* 3 Beatification process
* 4 Monuments
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
* 7.1 Citations
* 7.2 Sources
* 8 Further reading
* 9 External links
The birthplace of Pius VII
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
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
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
Rome , and was ordained a priest on 21 September
EPISCOPATE AND CARDINALATE
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
Tivoli , near
Rome . Pius VI soon named him, in February 1785, the
San Callisto , and as the
Bishop of Imola , an
office he held until 1816.
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
Servant of God
Papal conclave, 1799–1800 Site of the papal
conclave that elected Pius VII
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
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
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 original when apprehending Pius VI. 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
whence he proceeded to Rome.
NEGOTIATIONS AND EXILE
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
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:
* A proclamation that "Catholicism was the religion of the great
majority of the French" but was not the official religion, maintaining
religious freedom, in particular with respect to Protestants .
* The papacy had the right to depose bishops (this made little
difference, because the French government nominated them).
* The state would pay clerical salaries and the clergy swore an oath
of allegiance to the state.
* The church gave up all claims to church lands that were taken
* Sunday was reestablished as a "festival", effective
18 April 1802.
The arrest of Pius VII Pius VII receives extreme unction
while Napoleon's prisoner in 1812
As pope, he followed a policy of cooperation with the
French-established Republic and Empire. He was present at the
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 . 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.
RELATIONSHIP WITH NAPOLEON I
Pope Pius VII presided over the Coronation of
Napoleon I , as
Jacques-Louis David Main article:
Napoleon and the
From the time of his election as pope to the fall of
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
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.
RESTORATION OF THE JESUITS
Suppression of the Society of Jesus
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.
OPPOSITION TO SLAVERY
Pius VII joined the declaration of the 1815
Congress of Vienna ,
Cardinal Secretary of State
Ercole Consalvi , and urged
the suppression of the slave trade. This pertained particularly to
places such as
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."
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 reviews plans for the
Monte Pincio .
Pius VII was a man of culture and attempted to reinvigorate
archaeological excavations in Ostia which revealed ruins and icons
from ancient times. He also had walls and other buildings rebuilt and
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.
CANONIZATIONS AND BEATIFICATIONS
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
Berardo dei Marsi ,
Giuseppe Maria Tomasi and Crispin of
Viterbo . The "miracle" of Pius VII in 1811
THE "MIRACLE" OF PIUS VII
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.
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES
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
CONDEMNATION OF HERESY
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
DEATH AND BURIAL
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.
He was briefly interred in the Vatican grottoes but was later buried
in a monument in Saint Peter\'s Basilica after his funeral on 25
August. Monument by
Bertel Thorvaldsen on the tomb of Pius VII
Basilica of St. Peter
An application to commence beatification proceedings were lodged to
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.
He has since been elected as the patron of the Diocese of
the patron of prisoners.
The current postulator of the cause is Father Giovanni Farris.
Pope Pius VII's monument (1831) in St. Peter\'s Basilica was created
by the Danish sculptor
Bertel Thorvaldsen , a Protestant.
* Apostolic Prefecture of the
Cardinals created by Pius VII
Jacob Anton Zallinger zum Thurn , papal councillor in German
affairs (1805 - 1806)
* John Carroll , first US bishop
* ^ English: BARNABAS NICHOLAS MARY LEWIS CHIARAMONTI
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Servant of God
Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti".
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* ^ Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates by City Journal
* ^ Fortescue, Adrian and George D. Smith, _The Uniate Eastern
Churches_, (First Giorgas Press, 2001), 210.
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