Pope Innocent XIII
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|Papacy began||8 May 1721|
|Papacy ended||7 March 1724|
|Consecration||16 June 1695
by Galeazzo Marescotti
|Created Cardinal||7 June 1706
by Clement XI
|Birth name||Michelangelo dei Conti|
13 May 1655|
Poli, Lazio, Papal State
|Died||7 March 1724
Rome, Papal State
|Coat of arms|
|Other popes named Innocent|
Pope Innocent XIII (Latin: Innocentius XIII; 13 May 1655 – 7 March 1724) was born as Michelangelo dei Conti and was Pope from 8 May 1721 to his death in 1724. He is the last pope to date to take the pontifical name of "Innocent" upon his election.
Pope Innocent XIII was reform-oriented, and he imposed new standards of frugality, abolishing excessive spending. He took steps to finally end the practice of nepotism by issuing a decree which forbade his successors from granting land, offices or income to any relatives - something opposed by many cardinals who hoped that they might become pope and benefit their families.
Michelangelo dei Conti was born on 13 May 1655 in Poli, near Rome as the son of Carlo II, Duke of Poli. Like Pope Innocent III (1198–1216), Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241) and Pope Alexander IV (1254–1261), he was a member of the land-owning family of the Conti, who held the titles of counts and dukes of Segni. He included the family crest in his Pontifical coats of arms.
In 1706 he became Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quirico e Giulitta under Pope Clement XI (1700–21). From 1697 to 1710 he acted as papal nuncio to the Kingdom of Portugal, where he is believed to have formed those unfavourable impressions of the Jesuits which afterwards influenced his conduct towards them.
After the death of Pope Clement XI in 1721, a conclave was called to choose a new pope. It took 75 ballots just to reach a decision and choose Conti. After all candidates seemed to slip, support turned to Conti. The curial factions also turned their attention to him. In the morning of May 8, 1721, he was elected. He chose the name of Innocent XIII in honour of Pope Innocent III. On the following 18 May, he was solemnly crowned.
In 1721 his high reputation for ability, learning, purity, and a kindly disposition secured his election to succeed Clement XI as Pope Innocent XIII. His pontificate was prosperous, but comparatively uneventful.
Innocent XIII prohibited the Jesuits from prosecuting their mission in China, and ordered that no new members should be received into the order. This indication of his sympathies encouraged some French bishops to approach him with a petition for the recall of the bull Unigenitus by which Jansenism had been condemned; the request, however, was peremptorily denied.
Innocent XIII, like his predecessor, showed much favour to James Francis Edward Stuart, the "Old Pretender" to the British throne and liberally supported him. The pope's cousin, Francesco Maria Conti, from Siena, became chamberlain of James' little court in the Roman Muti Palace.
Death and legacy
Innocent XIII fell ill in 1724. He was tormented by a hernia of which he spoke to nobody but his valet. At one point, it had burst and caused inflammation and fever. Innocent XIII asked for the last rites, made his profession of faith, and died on 7 March 1724, at the age of 69. His pontificate was unremarkable, given that he was hampered by physical suffering. He was interred at St Peter's.
Innocent XIII was above the middle height and strongly built, with light eyes and a large nose. He was quite grave and was majestic in bearing, believing that his predecessor had perhaps shown somewhat too much mildness and affability. He never allowed people, except cardinals and ambassadors, to be seated in his presence; all others were obliged to remain kneeling or standing at all times. He was not wanting in either modesty or humility, but he thought it necessary to be of a reserved bearing, and no one better than he could sustain the dignity of the office.
In 2005 upon the occasion of the 350 years since the birth of the late pontiff, the citizens in the late pope's village of birth asked the Holy See to introduce the cause of beatification for Innocent XIII.
|Papal styles of
Pope Innocent XIII
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
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|Catholic Church titles|
8 May 1721 – 7 March 1724