|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 68) (aged|
Rome, Papal States
|Coat of arms|
|Other popes named Leo|
Pope Leo XII (22 August 1760 – 10 February 1829), born Annibale Francesco Clemente Melchiorre Girolamo Nicola Sermattei della Genga,
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2016. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
The Papal States, officially the State of the Church, were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the Pope, from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy from roughly the 8th century until the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia unified the Italian Peninsula by conquest in a campaign virtually concluded in 1861 and definitively in 1870. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Romagna, and portions of Emilia. These holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.
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.
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.
Spoleto is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east-central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is 20 km (12 mi) S. of Trevi, 29 km (18 mi) N. of Terni, 63 km (39 mi) SE of Perugia; 212 km (132 mi) SE of Florence; and 126 km (78 mi) N of Rome.
The province of 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.
He was the uncle of Gabriele della Genga Sermattei who in the 19th century was the only nephew of a pope to be elevated to cardinal.
Gabriele della Genga Sermattei was a Catholic Cardinal and Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals.
A cardinal-nephew was a cardinal elevated by a pope who was that cardinal's relative. The practice of creating cardinal-nephews originated in the Middle Ages, and reached its apex during the 16th and 17th centuries. The last cardinal-nephew was named in 1689 and the practice was extinguished in 1692. The word nepotism originally referred specifically to this practice, when it appeared in the English language about 1669. From the middle of the Avignon Papacy (1309–1377) until Pope Innocent XII's anti-nepotism bull, Romanum decet pontificem (1692), a pope without a cardinal-nephew was the exception to the rule. Every Renaissance pope who created cardinals appointed a relative to the College of Cardinals, and the nephew was the most common choice, although one of Alexander VI's creations was his own son.
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.
Osimo is a town and comune of the Marche region of Italy, in the province of Ancona. The municipality covers a hilly area located approximately 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of the port city of Ancona and the Adriatic Sea. As of 2015, Osimo had a total population of 35,037.
Marcantonio Colonna was an Italian Catholic cardinal. Born in Rome on 16 August 1724, Colonna was made Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria by in Aquiro Pope Clement XIII on 19 November 1759. He was then ordained a deacon on 9 March 1760 and a priest on 1 February 1761. He was appointed Titular Archbishop of Corinthus and Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Pace by Pope Clement XIII on 19 April 1762. Soon thereafter, on 25 April, Colonna was ordained a bishop. Pope Clement XIII acted as his consecrator and Pope Clement XI and Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart acted as co-consecrators.
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.
Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western, central and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva.
Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from August 1765 and sole ruler of the Habsburg lands from November 1780 until his death. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Francis I, and the brother of Marie Antoinette. He was thus the first ruler in the Austrian dominions of the House of Lorraine, styled Habsburg-Lorraine. Joseph was a proponent of enlightened absolutism; however, his commitment to modernizing reforms subsequently engendered significant opposition, which resulted in failure to fully implement his programmes. He has been ranked, with Catherine the Great of Russia and Frederick the Great of Prussia, as one of the three great Enlightenment monarchs. His policies are now known as Josephinism. He died with no sons and was succeeded by his younger brother, Leopold II.
Pope Pius VI, born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 15 February 1775 to his death in 1799.
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.
Dresden is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic.
Munich is the capital and most populous city of the second most populous German federal state of Bavaria, and, with a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city of Germany after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Württemberg is a historical German territory roughly corresponding to the cultural and linguistic region of Swabia. Together with Baden and Hohenzollern, two other historical territories, it now forms the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. Württemberg was formerly also spelled Würtemberg and Wirtemberg.
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.
In 1814 della Genga was chosen to carry Pope Pius VII's congratulations to Louis XVIII of France upon his restoration.
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.
Pope Pius VII, born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, 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.
Pope Pius VIII, born Francesco Saverio Castiglioni, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 31 March 1829 to his death in 1830.
Papabile is an unofficial Italian term first coined by Vaticanologists and now used internationally in many languages to describe a Roman Catholic man, in practice always a cardinal, who is thought a likely or possible candidate to be elected pope. A literal English translation would be "pop(e)able" or "able to be pope". In Italy the term has become very common and people use it for other situations too.
The death of Pope Gregory XVI on 1 June 1846 triggered the papal conclave of 1846. Fifty of the 62 members of the College of Cardinals assembled in the Quirinal Palace, one of the papal palaces in Rome and the seat of two earlier 19th century conclaves. The conclave began on 14 June and had to elect a pope who would not only be head of the Catholic Church but also the head of state and government of the Papal States, the extensive lands around Rome and Northern Italy which the Catholic Church governed.
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.
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.
The Mayor of Rome is an elected politician who, along with Rome’s City Council of 48 members, is accountable for the strategic government of Rome. As Rome is a comune speciale since 2009, the office is different from the offices of the other Italian cities. The title is the equivalent of Lord Mayor in the meaning of an actual executive leader.
Carlo Odescalchi, was an Italian prince and priest, archbishop of Ferrara, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Vicar of the Diocese of Rome. Close collaborator of popes Pius VII and Gregory XVI, he renounced his titles in order to become a Jesuit in 1838.
Giuseppe (Andrea) Albani was an Italian Roman Catholic Cardinal. He played an important role in the elections of Leo XII, Pius VIII and Gregory XVI.
Saint Vincenzo Strambi - in religious Vincenzo Maria di San Paolo - was an Italian Roman Catholic prelate who was a professed member from the Passionists and served as the Bishop of Macerata-Tolentino from 1801 until his resignation in 1823. Strambi became a Passionist despite its founder Saint Paul of the Cross refusing him several times due to Strambi's frail constitution. But he practiced Passionist austerities which continued after his appointment as a bishop that saw him favor his religious habit rather than the usual episcopal garb. He was known for his charitable projects that included the care of the poor and the reduction of diocesan expenditures in order to provide for them; he took special interests in the education and ongoing formation of priests.
Tommaso Riario Sforza was the Neapolitan Cardinal who, as protodeacon, announced at the end of the 1846 conclave the election of Cardinal Giovanni Mastai-Ferretti as Pope Pius IX.
Sisto Riario Sforza was an Italian Roman Catholic cardinal who served as the Archbishop of Naples from 1845 until his death. Sforza's rapid rise through the Church ranks began with a series of unique appointments before he served as the Bishop of Aversa for seven months before he was promoted to the Naples archdiocese and the cardinalate two months after that. He was a close supporter of Pope Pius IX and was a vocal participant in the First Vatican Council.
Annibale is the Italian masculine given name and surname equivalent to Hannibal (q.v.).
Antonio Lamberto Rusconi, J.U.D. was an Italian cardinal who served as bishop of Imola.
Benedetto Barberini was a Catholic Cardinal and Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals.
Carlo Oppizzoni, spelled also Opizzoni or Oppizoni, was a Roman Catholic cardinal and Archbishop.
Blessed Caterina Sordini was an Italian Roman Catholic professed religious that established the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration devoted to the Eucharist. She assumed the religious name of "Maria Maddalena of the Incarnation" when she became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis during her adolescence.
Tommaso Bernetti was an Italian Roman Catholic prelate and cardinal who served in the Secretariat of State and the Roman Curia during his time in the cardinalate. He came from Fermo and was named a cardinal in 1826 before beginning his work in the Curia. He had worked prior to his time in the cardinalate as a papal legate and governor with a dispensation for not having been a priest at that point.
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