Pope Innocent XIII
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|Bishop of Rome|
|Papacy began||8 May 1721|
|Papacy ended||7 March 1724|
|Consecration||16 June 1695|
by Galeazzo Marescotti
|Created cardinal||7 June 1706|
by Pope Clement XI
|Birth name||Michelangelo dei Conti|
|Born||13 May 1655|
Poli, Lazio, Papal States
|Died||7 March 1724 (aged 68)|
Rome, Papal States
|Coat of arms|
|Other popes named Innocent|
Pope Innocent XIII (Latin: Innocentius XIII; 13 May 1655 – 7 March 1724), born as Michelangelo dei Conti, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States 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, and Isabella d'Monti. 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.
Conti commenced his studies in Ancona and then with the Jesuits in Rome at the Collegio Romano and then later at La Sapienza University. After he received his doctorate in canon law and civil law, he was ordained to the priesthood. Conti also served as the Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura in 1691, later to be appointed as the Governor of Ascoli until 1692. Conti was also the Governor of Campagna and Marittima from 1692 to 1693 and the Governor of Viterbo from 1693 to 1695.
Pope Innocent XII selected Conti as the Titular Archbishop of Tarso on 13 June 1695 and he received his episcopal consecration on 16 June 1695 in Rome. Conti was also the nuncio to both Switzerland and Portugal.
On 7 June 1706, Conti was elevated to the cardinalate and was made the Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quirico e Giulitta under Pope Clement XI (1700–21). His appointment came about as the replacement of Gabriele Filippucci who declined the cardinalate. He would receive his titular church on 23 February 1711. 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. While in Portugal, he was witness to Father Bartolomeu de Gusmão's early aerostat experiments.
He was also transferred to Osimo as its archbishop in 1709 and was later translated one last time to Viterbo e Toscanella in 1712. He also served as Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals from 1716 to 1717 and resigned his position in his diocese due to illness in 1719.
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 as the successor of Clement XI. After all candidates seemed to slip, support turned to Conti. The curial factions also turned their attention to him. His high reputation for ability, learning, purity, and a kindly disposition secured his election, which occurred the morning of 8 May 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 by the protodeacon, Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili.
His pontificate was prosperous, but comparatively uneventful. He held two consistories that saw three new cardinals elevated on 16 June 1721 and 16 July 1721.
The Chinese Rites controversy that started under his predecessor continued during his reign. 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.
Innocent XIII held two consistories in which he named three cardinals. One of those new cardinals was his own brother, Bernardo Maria.
Doctor of the Church
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 68. His pontificate was unremarkable, given that he was hampered by physical suffering. He was interred in the grottoes at Saint Peter's Basilica.
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|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Innocentius XIII.|
|Catholic Church titles|
8 May 1721 – 7 March 1724