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BENEDICT


431


BENEDICT


impossible to absolve Louis. The latter, as Benedict i'eared, allied himself with Edward III of England against France. In vain the pope tried to avert war, but he was no match for the kings and their allies. His good offices were spurned; and he was humiliated by Philip's later alliance with Louis, who had also allied to himself the pope's political and ecclesiastical enemies, and by the emperor's denial of the pope's authority over him, and, worst insult of all, by his usurpation of papal power in declaring the nullity of the marriage of John Henry of Bohemia and Margaret Maultasch, that the latter might marry his son, Louis of Brandenburg. The French king hindered Benedict's projected crusade against the infidels, making the war with England an excuse to forego his promise to lead the armies, and even di- verting the money subscribed for it to financing his own wars, despite the protests of the conscientious pope. Benedict's crusading ardour foimd solace in Spain, where he encouraged the campaign against the Mohammedans who in 1339 invaded the peninsula.

Benedict XII has not escaped calumny. Re- former, foe of heresy, builder of the Avignon papal palace, unwilling ally of France and enemy of Ger- many, he made many enemies whose misrepresenta- tions have inspired most non-Catholic appreciations of his character. Much harm was done to his memory by the satires of Petrarch, who, though befriended and honoured by Benedict, yet bitterly resented his failure to return to Rome. His natural obesity, too, stimulated caricature and xmdeserved criticism. But history offers a vindication and testifies that, though he failed to cope succe.s.sfully with the political diffi- culties to which he fell heir, his piety, virtue, and pacific spirit, his justice, rectitude, and firmness in ruling, his zeal for doctrinal and moral reform, and his integrity of character were above reproach.

Ravn.\ldus, in B.\ronius. Annates (Bar-Ie-Duc, 1872). XXV, 20-274; Christophe, Hist, de ta papaute pendant te XlV'siecle (Paris, 1853). II, 36-79; Rocquain, La Cour de Rome (Paris, 1895), II. 437-463; Pastor-Antrobus, History of the Popes (St. Louis. 1898), I, 83-86; Vidal. Benoit XII: Lettres (Paris, 1902); Daumet. Benoit XII: Lettres (Paris, 1889); Acta SS.. XIII. 83-86; Liber Pontificalis. ed. Duchesne (Paris. 1886), II, 486. 527; MrRATORl. Rerum Italicarum Scriptores (Milan, 1734), III-XIII; Le Bachelet in Diet, thiol, oath.. II. (353-704, an exhaustive theological study with a good bibliography.

John B. Peterson.

Benedict XIII, Pope (Pietro Francesco Or- siNi), b. 2 February, 1649; d. 23 February, 1730. Being a son of Ferdinando Orsini and Giovanna Frangipani of Tolpha, he belonged to the archducal family Orsini-Gravina. From early youth he ex- hibited a decided liking for the Order of St. Dominic, and at the age of sixteen during a visit to Venice he entered the Dominican novitiate against the will of his parents, though he was the eldest son and heir to the title and estates of his childless uncle the Duke of Bracciano. Their appeal to Clement IX was fruitless; the pope not only approved the purpose of the young novice, ┬░Xin"""" but even shortened his novitiate by half in order to free him from the importunities of his relatives. As student and novice, the young prince was a model of humility and zeal, and devoted himself to the acquisition of eccle- siastical learning. At the age of twenty-one he was promoted to a professorship. On 22 February, 1672, he was elevated to the cardinalate by his relative Clement X. He protested strenuously against this honour, but was compelled to accept it under the vow of obedience by the General of the Dominicans, at the instance of the pope. As cardinal he adhered



strictly to the observance of the rule of his order, and never laid aside its habit. In 1675 having the choice between the Archbishopric of Salerno and that of Manfredonia (Siponto) he chose the latter because it was a poor diocese and required great exercise of pastoral zeal. His virtuous life not only overcame the opposition made by his relatives when he became a monk, but exercised such a salutary influence that in time his mother, his sister, and two of his nieces embraced the religious life in the Third Order of St. Dominic. During the conclave that followed the death of Clement X (1676), he was one of the band of cardinals knowTi as the zelanti who had agreed that no considerations of worldly prudence would influence them in the choice of a new pope. In the go\'ernment of his diocese. Cardinal Orsini was unremitting in his labours and zeal. He visited even the most remote hamlets and was not less watchful over temporal than over spiritual things He provided for the needs of the people, repaired churches and held a diocesan sj-nod, the decrees of which he published. In 1680, when Innocent XI transferred him to Cesena, he left to the people of Siponto a memorial of his apostolic activity in a pastoral letter on the rules of Christian life which he had always inculcated. At Cesena his frugality, modesty, and activity, his devotion to the poor and his constant preacliing brought about a throrough- going reformation among both clergy and people. Seeing on his frequent journeys the condition of the churches in even the poorest parishes, he neglected none and by the promulgation of strict rules, he abolished all known abuses.

In 1686, a serious illness, attributed by his physi- cians to the climate, caused his transfer to Benevento, where he remained for thirty-eight years or until he was elected pope. During this long period he seldom left his diocese. Each year he made an episcopal visitation to every parish. Whenever necessary, he built or renovated churches. He built hospitals and strove incessantly for the alleviation of the sufferings of the poor. Twice during his episcopate (5 June, 1688, and 14 March, 1702) Bene- vento was visited by earthquakes and on these occasions his courage, his active charity in behalf of the stricken inhabitants, and his energy in the reconstruction of the city, won for him the title of the "Second Foimder" of Benevento. He held two provincial synods, the first in 1693 attended by eighteen bishops, the second in 1698, with an attendance of twenty, the acts of which were ap- proved at Rome. The only reproach made against his administration is that his simplicity and child- like confidence exposed him to the wiles of some unscrupulous persons who abused his confidence.

Cardinal Orsini had already taken part in four conclaves, when Innocent XIII died in March, 1724; and in all he had acted in the spirit of the zelanti. The conclave at which he was himself chosen as- sembled on 20 March; two months afterwards (25 May) no choice had been made. This long delay weighed heavily on the soul of Orsini, who commenced a novena of prayers to his patron, St. Philip Neri, that the election of a new pope might be no longer delayed. Before the novena was finished he saw with terror that he himself would be chosen, and, reluctant to accept a position which filled him with dread, he sought by all means in his power to pre- vent his election. Against his oft repeated protesta- tions he was chosen 29 May, 1724, and even after the final ^'ote was taken he refused to yield, arguing that his age, his physical weakness, his incapacity, and a resolution which he made never to become

Cope, should exempt him from such a grave responsi- ility. He yielded only when it was made clear to him that grave dangers were to be feared if the conclave should be reopened. So with tears, and