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Pope Clement XIV (31 October 170522 September 1774), born Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli, was Pope from 1769 to 1774. At the time of his election, he was the only Franciscan friar in the College of Cardinals.


Early life

Ganganelli was born in Santarcangelo di Romagnamarker. He received his education from the Jesuits at Riminimarker and the Piarists of Urbinomarker, and in 1724, at the age of nineteen, entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual of St. Francis with the Franciscan name of Lorenzo Francesco. In 1741 he was made definitor generalis of the order (Catholic Encyclopedia). Ganganelli became a friend of Pope Benedict XIV (1740–58). In 1758 he was appointed by that Pope to investigate the issue of the traditional blood libel regarding the jews, which he found to be untrue[3949]. Pope Clement XIII (1758–69) appointed him Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Panispernamarker in 1759, at the insistence of Lorenzo Ricci, the General of the Jesuits.

Ganganelli was elected Pope Clement XIV on 19 May 1769 and was installed on 4 June, 1769, after a conclave that had been sitting since 15 February, 1769, heavily influenced by the political manoeuvres of the ambassadors of Catholic sovereigns who were opposed to the Jesuits. Some of the pressure was subtle: for an unprecedented impromptu visit to the conclave by Emperor Joseph II (1765–90) and his brother Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany, officially incognito, the seals were broken, the Austrians inspected the proceedings with great interest and brought with them a festive banquet ( Pirie 1965 p 269). During the previous pontificate the Jesuits had been expelled from Portugalmarker and from all the Bourbon courts: Francemarker, Spainmarker, Naplesmarker, and Parmamarker; now the general suppression of the order was urged by the faction called the "court cardinals", who were opposed by the diminished pro-Jesuit faction, the Zelanti ("zealous"), who were generally opposed to the encroaching secularism of the Enlightenment.

King Louis XV of France's (1715–74) minister, the duc de Choiseul, had former experience of Rome as French ambassador, and was Europe's most skilled diplomat. "When one has a favour to ask of a Pope", he wrote, "and one is determined to obtain it, one must ask for two." Choiseul's suggestion, advanced to the other ambassadors, was that they should press, in addition to the Jesuit issue, territorial claims upon the Patrimony of Peter: the cession of Avignonmarker and the Comtat Venaissin to France; to Spain the duchies of Beneventomarker and Pontecorvomarker; for Naples an extension of territory adjoining the Papal Statesmarker; and for Austriamarker an immediate and final settlement of the vexed question of Parma and Piacenzamarker that had occasioned a diplomatic rift with Pope Clement XIII.

Election to the papacy

Cardinal Ganganelli was elected pope on 19 May, 1769, largely due to support of the Bourbon courts, which had expected that he would suppress the Society of Jesus. He took the name Clement XIV.


Clement XIV's policies were calculated from the outset to smooth the breaches with the Catholic Crowns that had developed during the previous pontificate. The dispute between the temporal and the spiritual Catholic authorities was perceived as a threat by Church authority, and Clement XIV worked towards the reconciliation of the European sovereigns. The arguing and fighting among the monarchs seemed poised to lead Europe towards heavy international competition – a situation which would have resembled the European situation in the late nineteenth century.

By yielding the Papal claims to Parmamarker, Clement XIV obtained the restitution of Avignon and Benevento, and in general he succeeded in placing the relations of the spiritual and the temporal authorities on a friendlier footing. The Pope went on to engage in the suppression of the Jesuits, the decree to this effect being written in November 1772, and signed in July 1773.

This measure, to late nineteenth century Catholics, had covered Clement XIV's memory with infamy in his church, and was also quite controversial, with the Catholic Encyclopedia (?) supporting Clement XIV's suppression of the Jesuits as "abundantly justified".

His work was hardly accomplished, before Clement XIV, whose usual constitution was quite vigorous, fell into a languishing sickness, generally attributed to poison. No conclusive evidence of poisoning was ever produced. The claims that the Pope was poisoned were denied by those closest to him, and as the Annual Register for 1774 stated, he was over 70 and had been in ill health for some time.

Clement XIV expired on 22 September, 1774, execrated by the Ultramontane party, but widely mourned by his subjects for his popular administration of the Papal States.

The Catholic Encyclopedia (or the 1876 Encyclopædia Britannica) opines that:

no Pope has better merited the title of a virtuous man, or has given a more perfect example of integrity, unselfishness, and aversion to nepotism. Notwithstanding his monastic education, he proved himself a statesman, a scholar, an amateur of physical science, and an accomplished man of the world. As Pope Leo X (1513–21) indicates the manner in which the Papacy might have been reconciled with the Renaissance had the Reformation never taken place, so Ganganelli exemplifies the type of Pope which the modern world might have learned to accept if the movement towards free thought could, as Voltaire wished, have been confined to the aristocracy of intellect. In both cases the requisite condition was unattainable; neither in the 16th nor in the 18th century has it been practicable to set bounds to the spirit of inquiry otherwise than by fire and sword, and Ganganelli's successors have been driven into assuming a position analogous to that of Popes Paul IV (1555–59) and Pius V (1566–72) in the age of the Reformation. The estrangement between the secular and the spiritual authority which Ganganelli strove to avert is now irreparable, and his pontificate remains an exceptional episode in the general history of the Papacy, and a proof how little the logical sequence of events can be modified by the virtues and abilities of an individual.

Jacques Cretineau-Joly, however, wrote a critical history of the Pope's administration.

Suppression of the Jesuits

Clement XIV and Mozart

Pope Clement XIV and the customs of the Catholic Church in Rome are described in letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his father Leopold Mozart written from Rome in April and May of 1770 during their tour of Italy the same year. Leopold found the upper clergy offensively haughty, but was received by the pope with his son after Wolfgang demonstrated an amazing feat of musical memory. The papal chapel was famous for performing a Miserere mei, Deus by the seventeenth-century composer Gregorio Allegri whose music was not to be copied outside of the chapel on pain of excommunication. The fourteen-year-old Wolfgang was able to transcribe the composition in its entirety after a single hearing. Clement XIV knighted the young Mozart, the only ruler who ever accorded him a similar honour in his lifetime. Ever after, Mozart was able to pass himself off as a noble when he cared to.


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