Carlo della Torre Rezzonico born 1693
Clement XIII was born at Venice, March 7, 1693, of noble patricians of that republic, John Baptist Rezzonico and Victoria Barbadigo.
The Rezzonico family derives its origin from the city of Como, and was there from an early date admitted to the decurionship. There it also obtained the title of free barons of the Holy Empire, by virtue of a diploma of Leopold I, in 1665, granting them permission to use on their arms the imperial eagle of Austria. About the middle of the sixteenth century a part of the family settled successively at Parma and Genoa. From this last city the pontiff's grandfather Aurelius Rezzonico, the head of the house, removed to Venice in 1687, and was registered in the Golden Book.
At the age of ten Carlo went to Bologna to study rhetoric and philosophy in the Jesuit college of Saint Francis Xavier; he then returned home and for two years pursued a theological and legal course. Having received the doctor's cap at Padua, he came to Rome at the age of twenty-two, and in 1714 was admitted into the noble ecclesiastical academy; there, under the direction of learned men, others James Lanfredini, then a celebrated advocate, and subsequently a distinguished cardinal, he thoroughly studied legal science. With such acquirements and solid virtues, Carlo entered the prelacy on the 28th of March, 1716, and was appointed prothonotary participant.
Clement XI sent him as governor to Rieti, then to Fano. In 1725 Carlo was recalled to Rome, to become one of the ponenti di Consulta. In 1729 he was appointed auditor of the Rota, a post which he filled for eight years with zeal and ability. To reward these services Clement XII created him cardinal on the 20th of December, 1737. Benedict XIV conferred on him the see of Padua, where he resided for sixteen years, bishop, pastor, and father; and to this day the memory of his charity, of his mild and sagacious supervision, is retained.
On the death of Benedict XIV, in 1758, his funeral was celebrated, though, in consequence of the ninth day falling on Whitsunday, the period was restricted to eight days. On that day, as on Christmas, Easter, and other solemn feasts, bulls of Pius IV and Gregory XV prescribe that the funeral of a pope should be suspended, and the value of the tapers which would have been used be given to the poor.
On the 15th of May, Whitsunday, twenty-seven cardinals entered the conclave. Five, actually in Rome, were prevented by ill health from entering on that day, among others Cardinal Mesmer, aged eighty-seven. Several cardinals from other parts of Europe subsequently arrived.
In the ballot on the 19th of June, Cardinal Cavalchini obtained twenty-one votes, and two days later thirty-three cardinals resolved to name him pope, but the same evening the French cardinals, through Cardinal de Luynes, notified the cardinal-dean that their court excluded Cavalchini. Cardinal Guadagni said zealously but sincerely to the French members of the college: "Vos autem Spiritui Sancto semper resistis."The next day Cardinal Lante informed Cavalchini of the action of France. He replied with the courage of conscious virtue: "It is a manifest proof that God deems me unworthy to fill the functions of his vicar upon earth."
Some of the electors, headed by Cardinal de Roth, who entered the conclave on the 29th of May, with the instructions of the emperor, thought of elevating Rezzonico, and labored with remarkable promptitude to secure his election. In the ballot of the 4th of July he had twenty-two out forty-four votes, and on the 6th, after some discussion, he was chosen by thirty-one votes. He lacked twelve votes, and of course his own; these were given to Cardinal d'Elci, dean, and to various cardinals.
Rezzonico, invited to accept the election, shed copious tears; they urged him not to refuse the tiara, and he yielded to the entreaties of his friends. In memory of Clement XII, who had given him the purple, he took the name of Clement XIII. On the 16th of July, 1758, he was crowned, and on 13th of November he solemnly took possession of Saint John Lateran.
In communicating his elevation to the Catholic courts, Clement manifested all the apostolic ardor of his soul. He exhorted them to a prompt peace.
The senate of Venice had published an edict forbidding any of its subjects to treat of any matter with the Roman court without the permission of the republic, except matters relating to the penitentiary. This edict led to dissensions between Venice and Benedict XIV, who frequently solicited the repeal of the act.
Clement was a Venetian, and, relying on the love which his fellow-citizens bore him, renewed the appeal. By a letter of August 5, he thanked the senate for their expressions joy at the election of one of their sons. The Rezzonico family had been signally honored on that occasion. The senate almost to a man proceeded to the Rezzonico palace to felicitate Aurelius, brother of the new pope.
The senate suspended the execution of the act for four months, and soon after announced to His Holiness its absolute revocation, asking him to accept the new testimony of their joy.
Clement wished to show the Empress Maria Teresa a striking proof of his esteem. He addressed her a brief renewing to her and her successors the perpetual title of "Apostolic," already given to Saint Stephen, king, by Pope Sylvester II, so that they might be addressed as Apostolic Majesty.
On the 8th of September, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, the pope proceeded to the Church of Saint Mary del Popolo, and received from Constable Colonna the palfrey and tribute for the fief of the kingdom of Naples, the vacancy of the see having prevented their being offered on Saint Peter's day.
At Padua Clement nobly performed a bishop's duties. He wrote, in consequence, to all the bishops of Christendom to remind them of those duties: "Swear peace with each other. On the day of his ascension, our Lord recommended to his apostles Peace alone. Be not eager to rule, show no pride, but be liberal to the poor. They have an undoubted right to the goods of the Church, which belong to the poor, while the bishop is only the administrator. Be assiduous in prayer, which is ever efficacious when accompanied by faith, humility, and perseverance. Do not neglect to offer the Holy Sacrifice; there you will obtain prudence to manage affairs. Instruct your flock concerning Christian duty. As bishops cannot do everything in person, be circumspect in the choice of pastors to aid you. Do not admit to holy orders all who present themselves without vocation. If you cannot preach, if you deem yourselves unfitted to certain occupations, do what you can, administer the sacraments, frequent the canons in the Choir, give conferences on moral theology, and especially never leave your churches without grave reasons."
So necessary did Clement deem residence that by an edict of March 3, 1759, he required strict residence of archbishops, bishops, and ecclesiastics of every grade who had a benefice or a title, obliging them to constant personal residence. Revoking all previously accorded permissions, he ordered all ecclesiastics not retained by official duty at Rome to leave the city within twelve days, and proceed direct to their churches; or otherwise incur the penalties imposed by the Council of Trent and the Apostolic Constitutions, and additional penalties provided by the act.
The vocation of Cardinal York called him to the priesthood. Prince Charles Edward, his brother, was full of life; he had ventured to London in 1753, and came back with hopes which were never realized, but which he could never give up. The three courts of the house of Bourbon were consulting as to his marriage. The cardinal seemed free to follow his vocation. Accordingly, the pope, in a consistory held in October, made him Bishop of Corinth in partibus, and consecrated him in the Church of the Holy Apostles.
Meanwhile Count d'Oeyras, Marquis de Pombal, persecuted the Jesuits with a rage which Rome could neither conceive nor tolerate. Under pretexts of an impossible conspiracy, and accusations never proven, the minister had them banished from his master's States, and Clement had welcomed them with affable generosity. Pombal, not satisfied with sending innocent victims to the scaffold, endeavored to prevent the pope from receiving the Jesuits into his dominions. Clement proposed the only thing that could be asked in reason, a reform if needed; but the minister ordered the pope to decree the destruction of the order. Clement, however, would not yield to the violence of the cruel minister of Joseph I.
Pombal supported his demand by a malicious forgery entitled "Abridged Relation of the Republic which the Religious of the Society of Jesus of the Province of Portugal and Spain have Established in the Domains of the Two Monarchies, and of the War which they have Declared and Sustained against the Spanish and Portuguese Armies." It was written by Pombal himself, and no such republic or armies existed in Paraguay. Absurd as such a charge may appear in these days of rapid communication, it found believers, and strict orders were given to prevent the publication of any refutation. Unfortunately, too, the court of Madrid, although no mention of such matters was to be found in the official despatches from South America, at last was induced to give its support to the monstrous imposture. High officials spoke of losing pitched battles against the troops of the Society of Jesus.
While the courts in the Peninsula were thus carrying on a war of unscrupulous bitterness and malice against a devoted order in the Church, France swarmed with writers who openly assailed religion. Among other works appeared De l'Esprit, by Helvetius, which was at once condemned De Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris.
While Portugal gave so much cause for grief, affecting scenes occurred in Corsica. At the instance of General Paoli and other Corsican notables, the pope had deputed with necessary faculties, but without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the respective bishops and the temporal authority of the Genoese, Monsignor Caesar Crescentius de Angelis, Bishop of Segni, conferring on him the title of apostolic visitor for the island of Corsica. Civil war had given rise to increasing trouble and irreligion in many dioceses. The churches of Aleria, Mariana, Ajaccio, and Nebbio were destitute of pastors. The Corsicans, where they were masters, expelled all who were deemed favorable to the Genoese. The apostolic visitor having landed, the republic of Genoa, by an edict in the name of the doge and governors, offered a reward of six thousand crowns to any one who should arrest the pontifical agent and deliver him to the republic. The Holy Father assembled a consistory, and showed how insulting this edict was to the Holy See, inasmuch as the sending of a visitor concerned only ecclesiastical matters, without any refer to political questions. Was religion not to be revived in Corsica, vice banished, and abuses punished? Then of itself respect for the lawful prince would be enkindled. The pope accordingly overruled, annulled, and condemned edict. The Genoese maintained their order to seize Monsignor de Angelis; and the pope, who had in view only the interests of his sacred duty, could not abandon either his desires of religious concord or his minister, the bearer of the olive-branch to a Catholic country.
The King of Naples having offered to mediate, Clement replied that the Genoese must first recall their offensive edict, and then he would think of recalling the visitor. In this way, even if the difference should not be at once appeased, it would assume a peaceful aspect, and a settlement would become an object of hope.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand, King of the Two Sicilies, wished ~\to obtain the investiture of that kingdom. Cardinal Orsini, the king's minister, a man of honorable character, was sent with a proxy authorizing him to offer homage and fealty.
In a consistory Monsignor Emaldi, secretary of briefs to princes, read this proxy, and then the cardinal took the oath of fidelity. After signing and sealing it with his arms, he touched the Gospels, and handed the document to the master of ceremonies. Then the pope, taking the cardinal by the hand, granted the investiture solicited. The bull of concession was signed by the pope and by all the cardinals present.
By an autograph letter the pope directed the conservators of Rome to print, at the expense of the Capitoline Chamber, the Roman inscriptions collected throughout the city of Rome by the Benedictine Father, Peter Louis Galetti, afterwards bishop of Cyrene. These were to illustrate the history of many Roman families. This work was published,, and stands as proof of Clement's love for historical studies.
On the14th of June, 1761, Clement XIII condemned an Exposition of Christian Doctrine, printed at Naples in 1758, 1759, and 1760, and translated from the French of Mesenguy. To restrain the faithful from the dangers incurred by the use of such books, Clement, by an encyclical addressed to the bishops of the Catholic world, exhorted them to use, in instructing their flocks, the Roman Catechism drawn up by his predecessors, and especially by Pope Saint Pius V, after the Council of Trent. In fact, the pontiff, to condemn more absolutely the heresies of the time, had drawn up a catechism teaching what was to be believed and what was to be avoided in matters of faith. To meet the heresies contained in the work condemned, Clement ordered a new edition of the Catechism prepared by himself, and it was accordingly issued from the press of the chamber. The Roman Catechism was compiled by three famous theologians. The Creed and Sacraments, were assigned to Mutius Calini of Brescia, Archbishop of Zara, and afterwards Bishop of Terni, who also drew up the Index of Prohibited Books, and revised the Roman Breviary and Missal. Peter Calesini, a learned Milanese, revised the Decalogue. The Lord's Prayer was the work of Julius Poggiani, a celebrated man of Suna, in the diocese of Novara. Poggiani also rewrote the other parts, to render the style uniform. A congregation appointed by Saint Pius V, presided over by Cardinal William Sirlet, revised the doctrine of the whole work. With such care and patience was the Roman Catechism issued.
All admired the mildness of Clement XIII, but it had well-nigh led to evils afflicting the Romans. The roads began to be unsafe. Brigands devastated the land. Complaints against the pontifical government arose on all sides.
Clement ordered Cardinal Torrigiani, secretary of state, to renew the edicts issued against any who waylaid travelers upon the roads and troubled isolated houses. A bull of Sixtus V (July 1, 1585), republished by the pope, alarmed the bandits, and the very name of Sixtus, who once restored public security, was enough to recall to their normal state the interrupted communications of commerce.
On the 20th of September, 1761, the pope beatified Gregory Barbadigo, Archbishop of Padua, a relative of his own. The Roman senate were ordered to repair to the Vatican to venerate the newly beatified.
Clement was in general so loved, so applauded, so good, so beneficient, that this preference suddenly given to one of his mother's relatives gave rise to no discontent; moreover, Cardinal Barbadigo had, by his eminent virtues, deserved the honor conferred on him by the Holy See.
Like all pontiffs, Clement was eager to complete the works of his predecessors. The fountain of Trevi, the great work of Salvi, lacked several indispensable ornaments. The bas-reliefs had been made merely of stucco; they were now replaced by marble, and statues were added.
By a bull published September 11, Clement conceded to the patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops, faculty to give to their flocks the papal benediction, with plenary indulgence, twice a year, once at Easter and once at their option. Inferior prelates allowed to wear the mitre received permission to give this benediction a second time each year; but this permission was not to be exercised till a bull was obtained, which was, however, issued gratis.
The pope, mindful of the years which he had sat in the Rota, showed his affection for it. By two constitutions the Holy Father secured decorum and a speedier administration of justice.
The first of these constitutions confirmed the priveleges granted by ten pontiffs, adding still more honorable distinctions. An ancient method of judgments was restored, faculties were extended, and a desirable expedition given to causes.
The second abolished the sale of offices of notary of the Rota, and reimbursed moneys actually paid. It instituted a new regulation, assembling in a college all the notaries attached to the tribunal, with the right to draw up any act, and to be recognized as such in the tribunals of Rome. Finally, more suitable halls were prepared for these magistrates in the Vatican.
Meanwhile hostile dispositions full of persecution against the Jesuits increased in France. One of the pretexts used was the case of Father Lavalette, of that society.
In 1761 Father Anthony Lavalette was made superior-general of all the missions in South America. He was soon accused of being engaged in trade. M. de Bompar, commandant at Martinique, and M. Husson, intendant, defended his conduct; but he was a Jesuit, and this was sufficient to make him an object of persecution. Accusations were framed at Paris and laid before De Rouille, minister of the marine. The league against the society, encouraged by Pombal, was sure of the Parliament of Paris, but not as yet of the court and ministry. The aid of Madame de Pompadour, the favorite of Louis XV, was, however, soon gained. She assumed the air of a devotee in order to obtain influence with Queen Mary Leczinska, to whom she was lady of honor.
But to cover all, she wished a confessor who would absolve her without insisting on her departure from the palace, satisfied with the mere statement that she had broken off all intercourse with the king. The Jesuit, Father de Sacy, her confessor in her earlier days, refused to comply with her request and his refusal increased a bitterness aroused by Father de Neuville, who, in a sermon preached before the king on Candlemas, 1757, after Damien's attempt on his life, called the monarch's attention to God's singular goodness, and urged him to turn to his Maker with his whole heart by a sincere and perfect conversion. Madame de Pompadour, therefore, threw herself heart and soul into the party which sought the ruin of the Jesuits. The members of that order, in spite of all the efforts of their enemies, had still great influence over youth by their colleges, and over all ages by their sodalities. The sodalities were then what they have always been, pious associations of zealous persons unted in prayers and good works. No one had ever dreamed that such associations could be dangerous; they had no secrecy, nothing but what tended to nourish faith, piety, the practice of works commanded or counselled by the Gospel; they were, moreover, under the supervision and protection of the first pastors. None of these considerations arrested the action of the Parliament. Philosophy, as infidelity styled itself, and Jansenism then ruled in that body, and it must needs gratify its enmity against the Jesuits; it had, too, to punish the society that had so often resisted parliamentary assaults on the rights of the Church. Now it beheld itself upheld by Madame de Pompadour, irritated by Father de Neuville's sermon and Father de Sacy's severity; upheld, too, by the ministry, earnestly importuned by the cabinets of Lisbon and Madrid. The Parliament denounced the sodalities as clandestine conventicles, suspicious assemblies, full of danger to the State. An act of April 28, 1760, suppressed them all; and it is to be remarked that at the very time when these asylums of piety were proscribed, Masonic lodges, till then almost unknown in France, began to extend and multiply unchecked and uncensured. Encouraged by this first success, the hostile party sought an opportunity for a more decisive blow against the Jesuits. This, unfortunately, Father Lavalette furnished.
With almost all authority in his hands, he was led away by the hope of restoring the financial condition of the mission, long oppressed with debts incurred by acts of charity, and now affording a bare sustenance to the missionaries. Father Lavalette, without the knowledge of Laurence Ricci, the general of the society, purchased with borrowed money considerable estates in Dominica, a neighboring island, and employed two thousand slaves in cultivating them. While clearing the grounds a part of the negroes were swept off by an epidemic and the labor arrested. Meanwhile the day for repaying the million livres borrowed in Lyons and Marseilles approached, and Father Lavalette, to satisfy his creditors, borrowed again at ruinous rates, and without advice plunged into new speculations in hope of retrieving.Without confining himself to selling the products of his estates, he bought colonial produce to sell again, and sent several shiploads, not to France, but to Holland, hoping thus to elude discovery. War with England was threatening, and the latter country with her usual policy began, before declaring war, to sweep French vessels from the seas. Most of the ships of Father Lavalette fell into the hands of the English. Undismayed, he rushed into new operations, every one more disastrous than the last. The general, informed at last of this disorder, could scarcely credit the fact, but direct information from Martinique, in 1757, dissipated all doubts. He at once despatched a visitor, who broke his leg on the way; a second died; a third was captured by the English; and the fourth, Father Francis de la Marche, reached Martinique only to find it in the hands of the English. He at once cited Father Lavalette before him, and after examination deprived him of all administration, spiritual and temporal, and suspended him a sacris, till absolved by the general. Father Lavalette signed a full statement, acknowledging his guilt, and admitting that he had acted without the knowledge or consent of his superiors.
While his failure was thus made known, the chief creditors, in concert with the Jesuits of France, aided by many bishops, sought means quietly to settle the whole affair, and of a total of two million four hundred thousand francs admitted by Father Lavalette, had succeeded in raising eight hundred thousand, when the party in the pay of Pombal saw the danger. They urged some of the creditors to sue, not the mission of Martinique, but the society as responsible. The case came off in the Parliament of Paris; and led by the advocate-general, Le Pelletier de Saint Fargeau, father of one of the regicides of Louis XVI, the Parliament condemned the society in France. But no sooner did they attempt to meet this decision than an act passed confiscating all their property; and at the same time forged claims poured in, swelling the original indebtedness to five million of francs.
The French episcopate did not abandon the society. Of fifty-one archbishops and bishops then in Paris, forty-four showed themselves favorable to the members of the society and signed a declaration in their favor; and of the remain seven, Monsignor de Grasse, Bishop of Angers, added his signature; two others belonged to the family of Choiseul, the prime minister.
On the 6th of August, 1761, the procurator-general appealed from all the briefs or bulls concerning the Society of Jesus. This was followed by an act prohibiting the Jesuits from maintaining colleges, and forbidding any of the king's subjects to study there. Louis XV suspended the act for a year, and promised the pope that it should not be put in force, but the magistrates decreed that the suspension should not extend beyond April 1, 1762.
The weakness of the court encouraged the audacity of the enemies of the society, and Parliament went so far as to accuse the Jesuits of idolatry!
Rome was not insensible to these terrible proceedings. Clement XIII addressed a brief to Louis XV in regard to the Jesuits on the 9th of June, 1762. "We beg Your Majesty," said the vicar of Christ, "with the most ardent expression of desire, not to banish the Jesuits. Their cause is essentially connected with that of the Catholic religion. most sacred rights of religion are at stake. If lay magistrates violate them, religion itself will perish. The rules of a holy institute approved and confirmed by the Holy See are concerned; they cannot in any manner be abandoned the decision of magistrates. The pontiff, after addressing fervent prayers to God, recurs now with confidence to the royal authority. He conjures the king to remedy such imminent evils, to avoid scandal which must arise, to extend his protecting arm to a tottering society, and at the same time to religion itself."
The pope also addressed the French bishops: "You cannot, without being sensibly affected, see such brave defenders, such learned masters, such useful laborers torn from you."
"We lament," he wrote again, "that in France religion finds more enemies than defenders; we mourn that a society ever vigilant to defend the Catholic faith should be oppressed by a perverse faction. The institute approved by the Council of Trent, confirmed by the pontiffs, loaded with favors by kings of France, is assailed with opprobrium which reaches the very height of absurdity. Laymen take on themselves to declare null vows whose validity is a question for the Church alone to decide."
The pope concludes by exhorting the bishops to patience, constancy, and prayer, which gives strength to support these accumulated evils.
At that time the Bishop of Valence having communicated to the pope the insults offered to the Jesuits, the pope replied: " What, will not they refrain from persecuting the members of a society which has so well deserved of Catholicism and Christendom? These very religious who were received two centuries before in France, and protected by the good will of the kings, are suddenly assailed by those who should be the guardians of justice. They are condemned without trial or investigation. They have committed no crime; the hatred and envy of factions bring forward only vague charges. Against all justice, they are expelled to the prejudice of the public weal and the great injury of the Catholic Church."
By a brief addressed to the Cardinals de Rohan, de Rochechouart, le Choiseul, and de Bernis, the Holy Father announced to them that the Parliament having decreed the exile of the Jesuits, and declared their institute impious and irreligious, an institute approved as pious by the Catholic Church assembled in the Council of Trent, the Holy See, which had till then tolerated these excesses, could no longer do so without being unfaithful to its ministry. Accordingly, in a consistory the pontiff had revoked and declared null the act of the Parliament. The pope besought the cardinals, whose dignity united them so closely to Rome, to defend the honor of the Holy See with courage and constancy.
The Church of France groaned, said the pope, because men had shaken off the authority of the sovereign pontiff and of the Universal Church. Every one published his opinions, no matter how contrary to the faith and subversive of religion. The pope sought in vain a remedy for these evils; he wished at least to save the portion of the flock still uncontaminated.
Lorraine, which belonged to King Stanislas, was exempt from these miseries. Clement wrote entreating this prince not to permit the Jesuits to be expelled from his States. His Holiness portrayed the grief of the bishops of France on being deprived of the aid of these religious. He conjured him to imitate Joshua, who, in his advanced age, said to the magistrates whom he summoned around him: "If you will embrace the errors of these nations, . . . they shall be a pit and a snare in your way" (Joshua xxiii. 12, 13).
The pope added, in his letter to the king: "Reflect that the schools at Pont-a-Mousson, long since confided to the Jesuits, have been the barrier preventing the introduction of the doctrines of Luther, Calvin, Baius, Jansen, and Quesnel. These doctrines will soon enter if these religious are expelled and the direction of that university imprudently given to other professors."
Early in 1764 a scarcity attracted the pope's attention. The people of the neighborhood came to Rome for bread. No one was repulsed, and the public treasury met the wants of all.
Meanwhile, in France, they began to ask for the suppression of the Jesuits, whom they now wished destroyed in all other countries. The Archbishop of Paris, that prelate in whom all recognized another Saint Athanasius, saw that it was the duty of his ministry to defend and justify them. He issued a pastoral to his flock, in which he unmasked the calumnies of the oppressors and showed the innocence of the persecuted. The words of a prelate of such learning and virtue were rejected, and the archbishop was banished.
The king loved him, but he dared not follow his inclinations and resist the Parliament; all that the monarch could do, all that he believed it in his power to do, was to allow the archbishop to choose the place of his exile.
Clement no sooner heard of this than he sent to the prelate a consoling brief to revive his courage amid so much affliction. The pope praised the archbishop's firmness, his priestly fortitude, which revived the ancient Christian heroes, rushing forward to face every combat for the faith. The Holy Father regarded the archbishop as the model of ancient discipline and episcopal constancy.
In the summer the pope was informed that an almost unexampled scarcity menaced Rome. He imported grain from Sicily, the Marches, and Leghorn; he sent to Marseilles, where, during the plague forty-four years before, the poor had wanted bread. The grateful city showed itself worthy of the benefit conferred by Clement XI. Even strangers from other parts came to Rome for aid. The pope sent them away with provisions, and even gave them money to take them home, telling them that he thanked them for coming thus to ask relief from the Father of all.
At this time the Bishop of Nola, who had just left the see of Chieti, wrote to the pope to declare to him that in his former diocese he had always employed to the advantage of his flock the zeal and care of Jesuits, and that he intended to the same at Nola, because he saw in them brave and courageous laborers.
The pope replied that, in transferring him, his object was to place that prelate in a more salubrious district, and to give new blessings to the see of Nola, by confiding it to a pastor filled with true and sincere spiritual solicitude.
His Holiness praised the bishop's intention of calling for aid on the Jesuits, who would be as devoted at Nola as at Chieti. The pope added: "We know ourselves, by long experience at Padua, the probity, activity, and prudence of these Fathers. Now, in the pontificate, we receive from all sides proofs of their vigilance. During the last scarcity they were intrusted with the men's Reclusorio, where they had gathered the poor of the city, and those religious fulfilled their duties with the exactness to be expected of them."
Aware that the cause of the Church was really struck at through the members of the society, His Holiness felt obliged to defend them; and so he would defend them to the end with all his power. He daily commended them to God, to good Catholics, and to the Bishop of Nola himself, exhorting him to employ the zeal of the Fathers for the greater glory of their holy institute.
While the Jesuits received these testimonies of gratitude from Rome, the Parliament of Paris extracted from works of various Fathers of the society some propositions which, of its own authority, it declared pernicious; and it sent the last, entitled Assertions, to the bishops of the kingdom, that they might warn their diocesans not to admit these maxims. The Bishop of Angers was the first to approve this act, and he published a pastoral on the subject. Clement was no sooner aware of it than he sharply rebuked the prelate for assailing the society. His Holiness declared that the Parliament which had published the work was avowedly composed of persons, for the most part, enemies of the Church. This Parliament, by undertaking to address books to the bishops, insulted the first pastors, to whom alone it belongs to judge books that concern religion; that right is conferred on no lay power, and still less on a tribunal where truth is oppressed and trampled upon. Thus the Bishop of Angers erred in approving the aggression of a lay power and bestowing praise upon it.
The pope wrote to the same effect to the bishops of Aleth and Soissons, who had also approved the act of the Parliament and had exhorted their people to reject the propositions denounced without good grounds by the Parliament.
The Bishop of Sarlat wrote three letters to the pope. In the first he spoke in general of the wretched state of the Church in France. In the second he gave an account of what had been done for religion from 1755 to 1764. He disclosed the causes of the troubles which agitated sacred things to the point of exposing them to the most imminent danger. Speaking of the encyclical of Benedict XIV on Jansenism, the bishop said that, considered in itself, and in spite of the enemies of the faith and the friends of toleration, it was the rampart of the bull Unigenitus, the triumph of the strong, the ignominy of the weak, and the condemnation of the refractory. In the third letter the bishop cited the criminal dogmas of the Jansenists, the errors which they disseminated to the prejudice of religion. His Holiness must have learned that these impious and absurd doctrines were daily spread abroad. The letter closed by saying that the Church in France had received from its enemies a mortal wound in the suppression of the society. They had required exile to facilitate the destruction of the Catholic Church, a destruction which could not take place as long as the most impregnable bulwark was opposed to their arms.
In 1765 Clement took other measures in regard to the Jesuits, deeming it a duty to renew his protection to that part of the family of regular orders. He recognized, as the Holy See had already so often said, that the institute of the Society of Jesus was to be regarded as founded by a canonized saint, approved after diligent examination by the pontiffs Paul III, Julius III, Paul IV, Gregory XIII, and Paul V, repeatedly confirmed by others, encouraged and adorned by new favors, singularly recommended by bishops of all times, especially protected by the most powerful princes, decared a pious institute by the Council of Trent, and illustrious as having given nine saints to the Church.
Then the pope thought it his duty to publish a bull to remedy the evils inflicted on the Church by the wrong done the society. This bull was the constitution Apostolicum pascendi munus, dated at Saint Mary Major, January 7, 1765. It approved the order, with high praise; and to meet the wishes of the bishops from all parts of the world desiring it, he declared the institute, as well as the ministers dependent on it, pious, useful to the Church, worthy of the constitutions by which nineteen popes had approved, honored, and recommended it.
The bull had no sooner appeared than libellous works were issued in various countries assailing it. Three of these were condemned at Rome.
the 26th of January, 1765, the Congregation of Rites approved the worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion had been extending for many years, and pious souls were the more deeply attached to it as they saw the love of the Son of God disappearing from among men. It had been authorized by several briefs, among others by one of Benedict XIV, March 28, 1757.
On the 6th of February, 1765, Clement XIII approved the decree of the congregation; and the bishops of France soon after decided, in a deliberation on the subject, to celebrate the feast in their dioceses, and to induce their colleagues to follow that example. Pastorals were also issued explaining this devotion to the faithful and meeting objections to it. The true faithful are well aware that the worship of the Sacred Heart is only one way of exciting in us love to the Son of God, and the approbation of the Church is sufficient who only seek light.
Like all his predecessors, Clement omitted no opportunity to show his love for art. He acquired from individuals a number of statues, which he presented to the museum in the Capitol.
The Church had other troubles. The revolt already mentioned still subsisted at Utrecht.
By a constitution of June 18, 1765, Clement exempted from all jurisdiction the monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, mother-house of the congregation of the Olivetans in the diocese of Pienza in Tuscany.
In 1767 the pope learned with affliction that the Catholic religion was oppressed in Poland. In the native land of Sobieski, foreign powers granted a public protection to Protestants and schismatics. The bishops of Cracow and Kiev had even been violently arrested and conveyed to their diocese. Zalucky, Bishop of Kiev, proceeded to Rome, the at that very moment when the Jesuits were banished from many kingdoms, and their suppression furiously demanded, he the habit in that persecuted order.
Monsignor Visconti was nuncio in Poland. Clement ordered him to use every effort to mitigate the misery of the Catholics, and to obtain for them freedom to practise the holy religion in which they were born. The remonstrances of the pope led to the union of most of the magistrates of the kingdom in a confederation. There they resolved to uphold the liberty of their nation and the dominant Catholic religion, without admitting the novelties which Protestants sought to introduce.
Meanwhile, Charles III, King of Spain, by a decree of February 17, 1767, ordered all the Jesuits in his kingdom to be banished. This command was executed with cruel rigor; sickness, infirmity, sudden indisposition, formed no excuse. It was an act of savage barbarity unworthy of civilized nations; and armed force obeyed, as though ordered to rush with fury on foreigners condemned to exile for crimes.
By a letter of March 31, the king informed the pontiff, declaring that he had been compelled to act thus for the good of religion, the advantage of his people, the preservation of his life, and the peace of his realms. He added that, to save the apostolic chamber from expense in supporting these individuals whom he sent to the Father and minister of all the faithful, a suitable pension should be given for life to each of these individuals.
At this announcement Clement was seized with shudders that he could not control, and he expressed his grief in a letter to the king. Among other things, he said that during the nine years of his pontificate he had suffered no anguish more bitter than that which now overwhelmed him. This expulsion of the Jesuits plunged him into despair, and he could not refrain from crying out as Caesar did when struck by Brutus, whom he had regarded as his son: "Thou, too, my son!" The pope added: "A Catholic king will then, by so bitter a chalice, bring down to the grave an aged pontiff, his tender Father! The arm which should annihilate the enemies of the Holy See will aid them in their project, and take arms with them to destroy a society useful to the Church, to God; a society instituted by Spanish saints to propagate his glory throughout the world. A Catholic king will deprive his people of all the advantages resulting from the sermons, missions, catechisms, spiritual exercises, administration of sacraments, and the best instruction of youth! A king who will not permit the meanest of his subjects to suffer punishment without being brought to trial, is about to exile a great number of ecclesiastics consecrated to God and the commonwealth, without citing them, without hearing them, without allowing them to defend themselves. Is it not trampling under foot their right to maintain their reputation, to preserve their property, and to live freely in their native Iand?"
"The assemblage of priests is surely innocent, as well as their whole institute, and he swears it before God and man. The king must reflect then on the loss of his soul, his soul which he loves above all, reflect on the miseries which this expulsion will entail on the souls of his subjects, deprived of such courageous workmen."
"The pontiff presents to the king, not the entreaties of his queen–for from heaven, where he believes her reigning, that princess, from her affection to the Jesuits, must address her spouse ardent prayers–but the prayers of Christ himself and the Church, his spouse, which will never behold without bitter grief the abolition of the institute of Saint Ignatius." By his whitened head he besought the king to revoke the edict, since, as long as virtue shall be honored, all men will praise and exalt Ahasuerus, who revoked, at entreaty of Queen Esther, the edict published against the Jews.
"The pope exhorts the king to prove his equity, his love of truth, that the shades of so much misery may be scattered. Let the king hear his bishops, good men, his own conscience:he will find that the punishment inflicted on the society is utterly unjust."
Thus did the afflicted pontiff address the Catholic king. That prince had upright intentions; but he was misled by some of his ministers, who were in the cabal formed in France. The Revolution which subsequently broke out there would not have come had not the innovators first abolished the Jesuits, whom the authors of the Revolution regarded as an obstacle to their designs.
King Charles III, plunged in his error, replied to the pope on the 2nd of May. He was affected by the affliction the pope felt at the expulsion of the Jesuits; but he complained still more that His Holiness would not believe that Spain had just motives for following this course. At the same time the king explained none of these motives, nor did he subsequently give any valid reason to justify this action.
After this expulsion from Spain, the king ordered his son, the King of Naples, to expel those religious from the Two Sicilies also. This was done on the 3rd of November. They were all escorted by troops to the frontiers of the Ecclesiastical States.
Clement was deeply moved by this new affront, and wrote to the king, complaining that he violated the rights of the pontifical principality by this violent aggression. In fact, the pope deemed it a duty not to receive these religious; but they were introduced by force, and his rights were thus invaded.
These protests and others of the good pope were unheeded; the more the Holy See sought to support the Jesuits, the more their destruction was sought.
The conduct of the King of Naples, who acted at the instigation of his father, seemed to Clement a manifest insult. Monsignor San Severino was ordered to leave Naples and retire to his diocese; but that prelate was retained on the pretext that he had been appointed confessor to the king. Moreover, the king sent a force against Benevento, and conveyed to the mint the church plate and precious metals belonging to the suppressed houses of the society.
Meanwhile Clement applied on all sides to the most powerful intercessors, and awaited the success of his constant prayers and supplications.
Proceedings for a canonization had been begun; it was proposed to the pope to interrupt them. He replied that the Holy See could not postpone any of its duties. Then six saints were solemnly canonized.
(1) John Cantius, a Polish priest, born in Cracow of a very noble family on the 24th of June, 1406. He was appointed professor of theology in the academy of Cracow, and died December 24, 1473. Ever since, each new dean of philosophy, when he takes the oath in that university, is invested with his red robe, known as the reverenda; and each professor, in imitation of the saint, daily receives a poor man at his table.
The process for his canonization was sent to Urban VIII, who submitted it for examination to the Congregation of Rites. It was not spoken of again till 1666. Then Alexander VII ordered it to be resumed. Clement X approved, in 1675, the immemorial cultus of the saint, and beatified him without ceremonies (equipollent), In 1680 Innocent XI permitted the memory of Blessed John to be celebrated every year with office and Mass double. In 1767 Clement XIII approved five miracles of the Blessed John, and on the 2nd of February, in the same year, decreed that they might proceed to his canonization, and actually proceeded. Clement XIV subsequently, by decree of September 8, 1770, granted the office and Mass to the whole Church, with the rite semi-double. Then Pope Pius VI, by decree of February 25, 1784, made it a double rite.
The second saint canonized by Clement XIII was Saint Joseph Calasanctius, a noble Aragonese of Peralta, in the diocese of Urgel, born September 11, 1556, founder of the Pious Schools, of which he took the habit March 15, 1616.
The third saint canonized was Saint Joseph of Copertino, a fief in the diocese of Nardo, near Otranto, born in a low condition, June 17, 1603; a lay brother among the Capuchins in 1620, dismissed by them after eight months' trial; then a lay tertiary among the Conventual Franciscans; admitted at last to the priesthood, June 19, 1625, among the Professed Clerks. Clement XI, by a decree of July 10, 1711, permitted Saint Joseph to be beatified, although he had not been dead fifty years, as prescribed by Urban VIII. Clement XII approved the virtues in the heroic degree on the 15th of August, 1735. Benedict XIV approved the miracles on the 19th of September, 1752, and beatified him on the 24th of February, 1753. The office of the Blessed Joseph was then allowed to the Conventuals, the Capuchins, whose habit he had borne for a time, the Observantines, and other branches.
Clement XIV, by a decree of August 8, 1769, approved the proper office, and prescribed the Mass on the double rite for the whole Church.
The fourth saint was Jerome Miani, a Venetian senator, born in 1481. He founded the order of Regular Clerks of Somascho, in which, from humility, he would not receive the dignity of the priesthood. He died February 8, 1537, aged fifty-six.
The Congregation of Rites, by a decree of August 15, 1736, approved the virtues of the saint in the heroic degree. Benedict XIV approved two miracles by a decree of April 23, 1747, and on the 29th of September solemnly beatified him. Clement XIII, by a decree of May 25, 1766, approved two other miracles wrought after the beatification. The feast was celebrated July 20.
The fifth saint in this canonization was Saint Seraphin of Ascoli, so called from his long residence in that city, born of very poor parents at Montegranaro, in the diocese of Fermo. He was a Capuchin lay brother, having taken the habit at Jesi in 1564, and died October 12, 1604. Paul V verbally permitted, in 1610, a lighted lamp to be placed before the body of the servant of God. Urban VIII, in 1625, confirmed the usage at the request of Donato, Bishop of Ascoli. Clement XI beatified Seraphin equipollenter, and confirmed a decree of the Congregation of Rites granting immemorial cultus. Benedict XIII, by a decree of July 18, 1729, permitted the whole Franciscan order to celebrate the office and Mass double on the 12th of October, the anniversary of the saint's death; moreover, Clement XIII, by a decree of September 24, 1763, approved new miracles proven by an investigation of the ordinary. On his canonization the guild of master masons took this saint as their protector, because he had worked at their trade before he took the religious habit.
The sixth canonization was that of Saint Jane Fremyot, Baroness de Chantal, born at Dijon, January 23, 1572, married in 1593 to Christopher de Rabutin, Baron de Chantal, widow in 1602, and in 1610 foundress, under the direction of Saint Francis de Sales, of the Nuns of the Visitation.
This order soon had sixty-seven monasteries, which increased so rapidly that by the end of the century they numbered one hundred and fifty, with six thousand six hundred religious. Saint Jane Frances died at Moulins, December 13, 1641. Benedict XIV beatified her November 21, 1751, and permitted the office and Mass to be celebrated throughout the Visitation order, at Dijon, her birthplace, and at Annecy, where her body is preserved. Clement XIII, by a decree of March 9, 1766, approved two miracles; and Clement XIV assigned the office and Mass of this saint to the 21st of August for the whole Church.
At that time Mary Josephine, Archduchess of Austria (sister of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, Queen of France) was about to cross the Pontifical States to become the of queen of Ferdinand IV, King of Naples. To felicitate and receive her as queen at the frontier of the Roman States, Clement despatched Monsignor Bartholomew Millo, domest prelate, who on this occasion received the title of nuncio apostolic. This princess, who was only seventeen, was continuing her journey pleasantly, when she fell sick, and after a few days' illness expired. The two courts agreed that another archduchess should set out to espouse the king, and Mary Caroline came to Rome, May 8, 1768, to proceed to her new capital.
This same year the Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Parma, having, after the example of Portugal, France, and Spain ordered the expulsion of the Jesuits, added to this measure, so painful to the heart of Clement, orders to execute rigorously a restrictive edict of his father, the late duke. These commands infringed ecclesiastical immunities and episcopal authority; and men deplored these threatening edicts, especially in a country which the Holy See claimed by legitimate right.
Clement annulled the edict, published, he said, in his duchy of Parma by an illegal secular authority; and by virtue of the sacred canons, the decrees of the general councils, and the apostolic constitutions, especially the bull In coena Domini, he declared that the authors of the edict, and all who took part in its execution, should incur censures if they did not retract it. The bishops of Parma, Piacenza, and Borgo San Donnino were urged not to permit the execution of the censured acts. The Duke of Parma appealed for support to the courts of his family. They declared the bull Alias apostolatus null, because it had not been received by the crowns of France and Spain. They maintained that the brief invaded the rights of sovereigns, and to prevent the pope from issuing further bulls against Parma, they renewed their demands for the abolition of the Jesuits. At Paris, and especially at Naples, no effort was spared to create new troubles for the Holy Father.
Before long a corps of French troops, with a president of Parliament from Provence, and eight counsellors, advanced to take possession of Avignon and Carpentras, in the county Venaissin, where the Jesuits were still in possession of their and houses.
The Holy See had possessed Avignon for four centuries. Clement VI had purchased it for eighty thousand gold florins for Jane I, of Anjou, Queen of Naples and Countess of Provence. The sale was ratified by the king her husband, and by the Emperor Charles IV. The latter exempted the state from all subjection to the empire, on which Provence depended, because it formed part of the ancient kingdom of Arles. The monarchs of France had always recognized the independence of the popes in this territory, although Louis XIV, at the time of his quarrels with the Holy See, seized Avignon in 1682, and did not restore it till 1690.
While France was pursuing this high-handed course, the Neapolitan troops seized Ponte Corvo, a pontifical fief on the frontiers of the Roman State, and the duchy of Benevento, which was encircled by the kingdom of Naples–both possessions which had been enjoyed by the Holy See from 1052, under the reign of Saint Leo IX.
Still, all these insults failed to force Clement to decree the suppression of the Society of Jesus.
The reply of Clement was based in part on the authority of the bull In coena Domini. The Count de Firmian, governor of Milan, whom the discussion did not concern, interfered throughout; and in the emperor's name he notified all the bishops of the duchy, on the 19th of October, not in future to regard the bull, and to take down copies wherever they were set up. It was thus almost absolutely suppressed in the Milanese as it had been in Portugal by Pombal, and as it was soon to be suppressed in the Venetian States.
Cardinal Pozzobonelli, Archbishop of Milan, and Cardinal Durini, Bishop of Pavia, presented to Firmian respectful remonstrances for the emperor, and declared that the imperial minister must treat with Rome, as they could satisfy him as far as they were concerned. The bull In coena Domini had been renewed by a successor of Saint Peter, venerated on the altars, by the great Saint Pius V. In this very duchy it had been repeatedly published by Saint Charles Borromeo, another canonized saint. Since that time it had been executed in the dioceses where it was received; it was not in the power of the present prelates, said the two cardinals, to suppress and abolish a bull,, in view of the veneration which all the faithful owe to the successor of Peter, the visible head of the Church. These replies arrested at the time the action of Firmian; but, notwithstanding this success, the efforts might be resumed at Milan. Clement addressed a letter full of affectionate entreaty to the Empress Maria Teresa, beseeching her intervention with the house of Bourbon to terminate a difference so cruel and afflicting in its results. She replied on the 2nd of August, expressing her readiness to employ her good offices in maintaining peace if religion was threatened; but the cabinet of Vienna saw no danger to religion, as it was a mere contest for the principality, on which each is his own judge. Other princes could not pass upon such questions; the court of Vienna did not see, therefore, how it could in this assist and serve the Holy Father.
At this time M. d'Aubeterre, the French ambassador at Rome, urged his government to send troops from Corsica and occupy the banks of the Tiber; but Choiseul, with all his hatred of religion, hesitated to attempt the abolition of the Jesuits in this way. "I doubt," he writes, "whether the king would be disposed to take such extreme measures."
On the 7th of September, in the same year, the Venetian senate passed a law prescribing, among other things, that bishops in the States of the republic should have right of visitation over the churches and houses of regulars; that, not withstanding contrary usage, no religious orders from other countries should be admitted; superiors of religious houses could no longer sue or condemn their subjects without recurring to secular tribunals. No one was to be permitted to take the religious habit before the age of twenty, or make profession before twenty-five, and all who made profession must be subjects of the republic.
On the promulgation of this law, the bishops were ordered to proceed to visit every religious house in their dioceses. Some prelates obeyed; but Cardinal Molino, Bishop of Brescia, declared that he could not execute this command without the permission of the pontiff. His Eminence frankly declared that, without prejudice to the duty he owed his own prince, the republic, he believed that in such matters the supreme authority belonged to the Holy See. The senate merely renewed its order, and the cardinal persisted, but on being summoned to the capital he repaired to Ferrara, and his revenues were sequestrated.
Clement addressed a letter to all the bishops, explaining his intentions in this matter. The law of the senate tended to destroy the authority which the Holy See exercises over regulars. If the edict sought to restore discipline, it was notorious how much mischief had been done by lay intrusion in the administration of regular establishments. The constitution explained the authority of bishops, and detailed the exemptions granted by the fifth General Council of Lateran, in the time of Leo X. Bishops, therefore, could not avail themselves of the authority offered by the republic, but must confine themselves to that given by the Council of Trent, to which all owed veneration and obedience.
We now reach the close of the pontificate of Clement XIII. He was more than ever pursued by the three courts. Cardinal Orsini, ambassador from Naples, Count d'Aubeterre, ambassador from France, and Azpura, charge d'affaires for Spain, most importunately urged the abolition of the Society of Jesus. Having received orders to employ the most efficacious means to obtain their request, they solicited a collective audience to present themselves to the pope at once, to request the abolition which they were to obtain at any price. A master of ceremonies saved the pope from an audience dangerous to his actual condition, his malady, pulmonary disease, requiring him to refrain from all violent conversation. He laid before His Holiness a memoir giving precedents for such an audience, but explaining that, according to usage, once in presence of the Holy See, Prince Orsini, cardinal, would be led to a seat, Count d'Aubeterre remain standing, and the Spanish charge remain kneeling, during the whole audience. The envoys did not press for such an audience.
With the beginning of 1769 Clement experienced spasms and a violent cough; he was compelled to keep his bed, and gave up all affairs. On the 2nd of February suffocation became so frequent that, during the night between that day and the 3rd, he expired, aged seventy-five years, ten months, and twenty-six days.
Good, pious, mild, and facile, Clement attacked none, and was obstinately assailed by almost the whole of Europe. He resisted courageously. He repeated the noble words of Osius, Bishop of Cordova, to the Emperor Constans II: "God has confided the empire to you; to us, ecclesiastical things. Whoever of us should wrest the empire from you, would disobey God who rules; fear then to commit a great crime by usurping ecclesiastical things."
A strong element of religion and goodness, a beneficent disposition, an unalterable meekness, love for the poor, entitled Clement to the regret of his subjects, and the veneration of even the enemies of the Holy See. "Good citizens," said Count d'Albon, "cannot utter the name of Clement XIII without emotion. He was truly a father to his people; their happiness was above all things dear to his heart, and he labored earnestly for it. His most touching grief, affecting him even to tears, was the sight of misery that he could not relieve.
A tomb by Canova was erected to this pope by his nephew Senator Rezzonico. It is in the transverse nave to the right of the great cross in Saint Peter's, and is highly esteemed. It represents the pope kneeling at prayer. On the left, Religion, more than life-size, holds a cross of gilt metal. the right, a genius, seated, leaning on an urn, holds a torch in the right hand. Charity and Fortitude, life-size, are seated near the urn; and then two lions couchant, one sleeping, on pedestals. Canova wished by these to typify the character of Clement XIII. The sleeping lion is the symbol of meekness, roused by no insult that it can bear without detriment to duty; the lion fully awake is the symbol of the pope's courage when, assailed on all sides by those who would extort from him the abolition of the Jesuits, he resisted their violence, though enfeebled by disease and in constant pain.
This biographical data is from "The Lives and Times of the Popes" by The Chevalier Artaud De Montor. Published by The Catholic Publication Society of New York in ten volumes in 1911. The pictures, included in the volumes, were reproduced from " Effigies Pontificum Romanorum Dominici Basae."