XI (MUnster. 1891); Artaud de Mohtor, History of the Popes (New York, 1867), I, 481-484; AnnSe Dominicaine, vii, 125- 54; 874-77, and the monograph of Ferreton (Treviso. 1904). M. A. Waldron.
Benedict XII (Jacques Fournier), third of the Avignon popes, b. at Saverdun in the province of Toulouse, France, elected 20 December, 1334; d. at Avignon 24 April, 1342. Nothing is known of his parentage or boyhood. In youth he became a Cistercian monk in the mon- astery of Boulbonne, whence he moved to that of Fontfroide, whose abbot was his natural uncle, Arnold Novelli, by whose name Fournier was also known. He studied at the University of Paris, where he received the doctorate in theology. Mean- time he was made Abbot of Fontfroide, succeeding his uncle who was created cardinal 19 December, 1310. In December AR.M.sut LJl.nedict XII 1317, he became Bishop of his native Diocese of Palmiers, was translated to Mirepoix 26 January, 1327, and was made cardinal by Pope John XXII, 18 December, 1327. On the latter's death, 4 December, 1334, the cardinals in conclave, most of whom opposed a return to Rome, demanded of Cardinal de Comminges whose election seemed assured, the promise to remain at Avignon. His refusal precipitated an unexpected canvass for canditiates. On the first ballot, 20 De- cember, 1334, many electors, intending to sound the mind of the conclave, voted for the unlikely Cardinal Fournier, who, though he was one of the few men of real merit in the college, was but lightly regarded because of his obscure origin and lack of wealth and following. He amazed the conclave by receiving the necessary two-thirds vote. On 8 January, 1335, he was enthroned as Benedict XII.
Resolved to re-establish the papacy at Rome, Benedict signalized his accession by providing for the restoration of St. Peter's basilica and the Lateran. He was prepared to acquiesce in the peti- tion of a Roman deputation soliciting his return, but his cardinals pictured the impossibihty of living in faction-rent Italy. They were right, whatever were their motives, and Benedict yielded. Con- science-stricken during a critical illness, he proposed as a compromise a transfer of his court to Bologna. The cardinals urged the slender hope of securing obedience, and Benedict decided to remain at Avig- non, where in 1339 he commenced to build the mas- sive papal castle which still exists. Mindful always of distracted Italy, he often sent money to succour the famine-stricken people and to restore churches. Reform of abuse was Benedict's chief concern. Immediately after his elevation he remanded to their benefices clerics not needed at Avignon, and menaced with summary chastisement violators of the law of residence. He revoked the scandalous "expectancies" granted by his predecessors and forbade conferring benefices in commendam. (See CoMMEND.^TORY Abbot.) He Condemned unseemly "pluralities" and conferred benefices with such con- scientious discrimination that several were left long vacant, and so gave colour to the calumny that he was himself harvesting their revenues. He in- veighed vigorously against greed for gain among ecclesiastics; regulated the taxes on documents issued by papal bureaux; made episcopal visitation less of a financial burden to the clergy; abolished the practice of countersigning requests for papal favours, which was extremely lucrative to venal officials; and estab- lished the Registry of Supplications for the control of such petitions. Abhorring nepotism, he granted preferment to but one relative, naming the eminent
Jolm Bauzian Archbishop of Aries in deference to the insistence of the cardinals; he compelled his only niece to discourage noble suitors and marry one of her own humble rank. A legend, vouched for by jEgidius of Viterbo (d. 1532), accredits him with say- ing, "a pope should be like Melchisedech. without father, mother, or genealogy". Monastic reform particularly engaged his zeal. Himself a Cistercian, he sought to revive pristine monastic fervour and devotion to study. Pertinent papal constitutions and visitations of monasteries attest his solicitude for a monastic renaissance.
Being a learned theologian, he was as bishop, cardi- nal, and pope, keenly interested in scholastic discus- sions. He terminated the controversy on the ve.xed question as to whether the Beatific Vision was en- joyed before or only after the General Judgment. John XXII had advocated the latter view and stirred up vigorous discussion. Eager to solve the ques- tion, Benedict heard the opinions of those maintain- ing the theory of deferred vision, and, with a com- mission of theologians, gave four months to patristic research. Their labours terminated in the proclama- tion (29 January, 1336) of the Bull "Benedictus Deus" defining the immediate intuitive vision of God by the souls of the just having no faults to expiate. Zealous too for the preservation of the Faith, he stimulated the bishops of infected districts to vigilance in the repression of heresy and urged the use of the preventive remedies of the Inquisition. He combatted energetically the anti-papal doctrines which the ecclesiastico-political theorists of the dis- turbetl Avignon period had spread, and which were unfortunately sustained by a school of misguided Franciscans. (See Fraticelli, M.\rsilius of Padua, William of Occam; Michael of Cesena.) Dis- tressed by disloyalty in Ireland, he tried to persuade Edward III to establish the Inquisition in his realm and urged him to assist the Irish bishops to extirpate heresy. But, though the most ardent foe of heresy, Benedict was remarkably patient and loving in deal- ing with heretics. He looked also to the interests of the Faith in the East; negotiated for the union of the Eastern Church with Rome through a delegate of the Emperor Andronicus, whose sincerity, however, Bene- dict was forced to question; manifested his solicitude for the Church in Armenia which, in the early four- teenth century, svitfered from Mohammedan inva- sions, succouring the mifortunates in temporal mat- ters and healing doctrinal ditferences which had long rent Armenia with schism.
In purely ecclesiastical affairs Benedict's pontifi- cate was creditable to himself and productive of good to the Church. Pious, prudent, and firm, he strove conscientiously to meet the Church's needs at a critical period. In political relations, however, he was not so successful. Inexperienced in politics, he had little taste for diplomacy and an imperfect knowledge of men and affairs of the world. Con- flicting political motives confused him, and hesitancy and vacillation contrasted painfully with his firmness and decision in ecclesiastical matters. Though de- termined to act independently of Philip VI of France, the latter generally succeeded in committing the pope to his policy. He helped to prevent his return to Rome. He frustrated his desire to make peace with the Emperor Louis of Bavaria whom Jolm XXII had excommunicated for fomenting sedition in Italy, proclaiming himself King of the Romans, and in- truding an anti-pope. Willing to absolve him should he but submit to the Church, Benedict exposed to Louis's delegates his generous terms of peace (July, 1335). But Philip, aided by the cardinals, persuaded the pope that his generosity encouraged heresy and rebellion. Benedict yielded. Thrice the imperial envoys came to Avignon, but French influence pre- vailed, and, on 11 April, 1337, Benedict declared it