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his own palace at Anagni, he was one of the two cardinals who remained with him, when all the others fed. On the death of that pope, in 1303, our cardinal bishop was chosen to succeed him, and took the name of Benedict, the Christian name of his predecessor, in honour of him who had been the cause of his advancement from a low station. Among his first measures be granted absolution to the king of France, and annulled the decrees of Boniface against him, which restored peace to that country, and this he farther promoted by reinstating the Colonna family in all their honours and possessions. He made it his study to quiet the disturbances that his predecessor had raised, not only in France, but in most other kingdoms, and to regain by conciliatory measures those whom the haughty and imperious behaviour of his predecessor had alienated from the apostolic see; but his pontificate was short. He died the year following his election, July 6, 1304, not without suspicion of poison, administered, as some think, by the relations of Boniface, in revenge for his having re, ceived that pope's enemies into favour, but others impute this crime to the Florentines, whose city he had laid under an interdict, when it was distracted by two barbarous facţions, called the Neri and the Bianchi. The writers of Benedict's time concur in reporting that he was a man exemplary in every respect, inclined to peace and con, ciliation, and one who had no desire to enrich his family. One trait of his character seems to support this last instance of forbearance. His mother approaching him in a very rich dress to congratulate him on his promotion, he affected to consider her as an impostor, and said : “My mother is not a princess, but a poor woman;" but next day, when she returned in her ordinary dress, he embraced her with affection, and treated her with every mark of respect. He wrote comments on the gospel of St. Matthew, the book of Job, and the Revelations, besides several sermons, and letters to the king of France and other princes, concerning the reformation of abuses that had crept into the church in their respective kingdoms; but of his works, the only one printed is a comment on the fifth chapter of Matthew, and some letters in Rainald, Wadding, and Cherubini.'
! Bower's Lives of the Popes.--Dupin.-Waleh's Lives of the Popese
BENEDICT XII. (POPE), whose name was James Fournier, was a native of Saverdun, in the diocese of Pamier, the son of a miller, or of an obscure person; but some are of opinion that he was descended of a noble family. He embraced a religious life when young, among the Cistertians, and having afterwards received the degree of master of divinity in the university of Paris, he was made abbot of Fontfroide, in Narbonne, and when he had governed that monastery for six years, with great applause, he was made first bishop of Pamiers, and nine years after translated to Mirepoix. In December 1327, pope John XXII. created him cardinal presbyter of St. Prisca, and in 1334, he was elected pope, contrary to all expectation. The conclave had chosen Comminge, cardinal bishop of Porto, as the most proper person, but the French cardinal insisting that he should promise never to go to Rome, he refused to accept the office on a condition so prejudicial to the church. In this dilemma, the cardinals being at a loss whom to nominate, some of them proposed James Fournier, the most inconsiderable of the whole college, “omnium infimus," and he was unanimously elected : this unexpected turn gave occasion to some of the writers of his days to attribute the whole to divine inspiration, with as good reason, no doubt, as in the case of any of his predecessors or successors.
Benedict was as much surprised as any of his brethren, and either out of humility, or because he was conscious he knew little of public affairs, candidly told them that they had elected an ass. His actions, however, did not justify this comparison. He was indeed a stranger to the arts of the court, but he was a learned divine, well versed in the civil and canon law, and a man of exemplary life and probity. His first act was that of liberality. The day after his election, he distributed among the cardinals 100,000 florins out of the treasure left by his predecessor; and a few days after gave 50,000 for repairing the churches of Rome. In his first public sermon he preached on the beatific vision, and maintained that the just on their death saw God face to face, before the day of the general resurrection, contrary to the doctrine held by his predecessor ; and he was so impressed with the necessity of establishing this doctrine, that he published in 1336 a constitution, as it was called, directly in opposition to the notion of purgaa
tory in any shape. The whole of his political administration appears to have been of the pacific kind, and in providing for the interests of the church, he preferred men of merit to vacant benefices, and was an enemy to pluralities; and in some of the religious orders he introduced reformations which we may be certain were beneficial and wise, because they raised the indignation of the monks, who have on that account painted his character in the blackest colours. His last effort for the peace of Europe was to reconcile the kings of France and England, then at war, but while employed on this, he died of a short illness, the consequence of suppressed evacuation, April 25, 1342. Like his predecessor, he avoided aggrandizing his family, as most other popes had done, and could scarcely be prevailed upon to admit his relatives into his presence, when they came to congratulate him on his promotion. He used to say “ James Fournier had relations, but pope
Benedict has none,” and contented himself with ordering the expences of their journey to be defrayed out of the apostolic chamber. The monks whom he had reformed, however, contrary to all contemporary evidence, have accused him of avarice, debauchery, and in particular, of an intrigue with the sister of the celebrated Petrarch. On the other hand, all the best historians have extolled him as a man of sanctity and a pattern of every virtue. He wrote two volumes on the state of the soul before the general judgment; eleven questions upon the same subject; sermons for the chief festivals of the year; all which are in MS. in the Vatican library. He wrote, likewise, several constitutions relating to the reformation of some religious orders, commentaries upon the psalms, various letters, and some poetical pieces.
BENEDICT XIII. (POPE), otherwise Vincenzo Maria Orsini, a Dominican friar, was a native of the kingdom of Naples, and the eldest son of the duke of Gravina. Being of a religious turn of mind from his tender years, he embraced a monastic life among the Dominicans. In 1672, partly by his family influence, he was preferred to the dignity of cardinal, and soon after to the archbishopric of Benevento, but was with the utmost difficulty prevailed upon to accept of the papal dignity, alleging that he was utterly unacquainted with state affairs, and too old to acquire that
1 Bower's Lives of the Popes.-Dupin.--Walch's Lives of the Popes.
species of knowledge. Being, however, obliged to acquiesce, he began with those measures which corresponded with his previous disposition, and the retired life he had led; reducing the pleasures and pomp
of his court, suppressing abuses, and restraining the licentiousness of his clergy. With a view to these changes, he held a provincial synod in the Lateran in 1725, but the Jesuits, of which three were at this time cardinals, highly provoked at his approving the doctrine of the Dominicans, concerning grace and predestination, found means to render all his endeavours ineffectual. On another occasion, he rose above the bigotry of his predecessors, by expressing a wish for the diffusion of scriptural knowledge; and with that view, he permitted the people in general to peruse the sacred volume, and encouraged the multiplication of copies in the modern languages, which, although it displeased the rigid catholics, was approved by a majority of the members of that church. Benedict, about the same time, testified his devotion to the muses, by publicly decorating Perfetti, a Tuscan poet, with a crown of laurel.
One leading object with him was to unite the four religious communities in Christendom. He proposed that four councils should be held at different places, each consisting of a certain number of representatives of the Romish, Greek, Lutheran, and Calvinist churches; but it is unnecessary to add that this scheme was found impracticable, In all his transactions, however, with the catholic sovereigns of Europe, he endeavoured to operate by a conciliatory temper, and although not always successful, yet the purity of his intentions was visible. It has been said that he was more of a monk than of a pope, by which we may probably understand, that he was more attached to what he conceived to be the genuine interests of the church, than to her political influence. Indefatigable in his apostolical duties, he continued to preach and pray, attended to all pontifical and sacerdotal functions, and directed the conduct of subordinate prelates and ministers of the church. He frequently visited the poor, and not only gave them spiritual comfort, but relieved them by his bounty, selling for that purpose the presents which he received. He habituated himself to the plainest fare, and lived in the most frugal manner, like a hermit in his cell, that he might more liberally bestow upon others the blessings of fortune, His chief blemish was that easiness of temper, and reluct
ance to active business, which led him to suffer cardinal Coscia, an unprincipled Neapolitan, to have the entire management of the government, and would listen to no complaints against him, although Coscia was guilty of the most enormous and notorious extortions. Yet he died, without losing his popularity, Feb. 21, 1730, in the sixth year of his pontificate. His works were published in 3 vols. 1728, fol. under the title of “ Opera di Benedetto XIII.” 1
BENEDICT XIV. (Pope), whose name was Prosper LAMBERTINI, was born in 1675, at Bologna. He was appointed canon of the Basilicon, or great church of St. Peter, then successively archbishop of Theodosia, and bishop of Ancona. He received the cardinal's hat in 1728, was deputy of the congregation of the holy office the saine year, became archbishop of Bologna in 1731, and succeeded pope Clement XII. August 17, 1740. He then 'took the name of Benedict XIV. zealously endeavoured to calm the dissensions which had arisen in the church, patronised arts and sciences, founded several academies at Rome, and declared openly in favour of the Thomists. This pope did justice to the memory of the celebrated cardinal Noris; published the bull “Omnium sollicitudinum" against certain ceremonies, and addressed a brief to cardinal Saldanha for the reformation of the Jesuits, which was the foundation of their destruction. He had also established a congregation to compose a body of doctrine, by which the troubles of the church might be calmed. This pontiff was a very able canonist, and well acquainted with ecclesiastical history and antiquities. Though he governed with great wisdom, and was very zealous for religion, he was lively in his conversation, and fond of saying bon mots. He died 1758, aged 83. His works were published before his death in 16 vols. 4to, by Azevedo. The four last contain his briefs, bulls, &c. The five first are, “A treatise on the Beatification and Canonization of Saints,” in which the subject is exhausted ; an abridgement of it was published in French, 1759, 12mo. The sixth contains the actions of the saints whom he canonized. The two next consist of supplements, and remarks on the preceding ones. The ninth treats on the “ Sacrifice of the Mass,” and the tenth on the “ Festivals instituted in honour of Jesus Christ and
? Bower's Lives of the Popcs.—Dupin. Walch's Lives of the Popes.--Mosheim, Eecl. Hist,