From May 29, 1724, until his death in 1730, Pope Benedict XIII was the pope. The case for making him a saint was opened in 1755, but it was quickly closed. It was opened again and closed again twice. In the end, after his death, he was called “Servant of God.” He was born into the Orsini-Gravina family, and he liked the Order of St. Dominic from a young age. When he was 16, he went to Venice against his parents’ wishes and decided to join the Dominican novitiate. His parents did everything they could to stop him from making the choice, but the young man was set on it. He was a simple, humble man who was very religious and loved the church. He was soon made a cardinal. When Pope Innocent XIII died in 1724, he was chosen to take his place. As someone who believed in living a simple life, he didn’t like how extravagant the cardinals and ecclesiastics were. He tried to get them to change by making them live a very strict life. As someone who liked peace, he was always at odds with John V of Portugal and the Jansenists over foreign policy. He was also the pope when the famous Spanish Steps and the University of Camerino were opened.
Early years and childhood
Pope Benedict XIII was born as Pietro Francesco Orsini on February 2, 1649, in Gravina, Puglia, Kingdom of Naples, to Ferdinando III Orsini, duke of Gravina, and Giovanna Frangipani della Tolfa.
At a young age, he became interested in the Order of St. Dominic. His parents did not want him to join the order, though, because he was their oldest son and the heir to the title and estates of his uncle, the Duke of Bracciano, who had no children.
At age 16, he went to Venice and joined the Dominican novice program. His parents were shocked and did everything they could to change his mind. They even tried to talk to Pope Clement IX, but it didn’t help. Instead, the pope helped the young man and even cut his time as a novice in half.
As a student and beginner, he showed himself to be very honest and committed. He was humble and enthusiastic, and he worked very hard to learn about church matters. At age 21, he was given the title of professor.
A Later Years
Pietro Francesco Orsini was elevated to the rank of the Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto on 22 February 1672 by Pope Clement X who was his relative. Orsini was given this honor against his will, and he did not like it. But the pope told the General of the Dominicans to make him take it because he had sworn to be obedient.
As a cardinal, he kept living a simple life and obeying the rules of his order. He never gave up on this habit. In 1675, he could become either the Archbishop of Salerno or of Manfredonia (Siponto). He chose the second one because, since it was a poor diocese, he thought it would require him to be a better pastor. Then, in 1680, Orsini became the Archbishop of Cesena and Benevento (1686).
Because of how he lived and how much he cared about the church, not only did his family support his decision to become a monk, but he also led some of his family members down the religious path. His mother liked the religious life in the Third Order of St. Dominic, even though she didn’t like it when he first decided to join the Dominican Order. His sister and two nieces did the same thing.
When Pope Innocent XIII died in 1724, a meeting called a conclave was held to choose his successor. Even though Orsini was thought to be one of the papabile, there were no clear candidates. People thought he would make a good pope because he lived a simple life and had strong values.
Orsini, who was always humble, at first refused to run for office because he thought he wasn’t good enough. After a lot of convincing by the cardinals, he finally agreed, and on May 29, 1724, he was chosen as pontiff. When he became pope, he chose the name “Benedict XIII” after Pope Blessed Benedict XI, who was also a member of the Dominican Order.
As someone who didn’t care about material things, he made the cardinals and ecclesiastics follow strict rules because he didn’t like how they spent money. During the Jubilee in 1725, he took care of the Grand Penitentiary himself.
Soon, he was known for putting a lot of his own personality into official events. This not only made his staff look bad, but it also caused trouble for the public. He did this once at the door of Saint Peter’s to kiss the floor, and he did it again when he refused to be carried in the Sedia Gestatoria but insisted on walking through the basilica.
In 1728 and 1730, Pope Benedict XIII made Bernardine of Feltre and Peter Fourier saints. Hyacinth of Mariscotti, Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Vincent de Paul, and John del Prado are some of the other people he made saints.
In 1728, he made Pope Gregory VII a saint and made Agnes of Montepulciano, Aloysius Gonzaga, and Boris of Kyiv saints as well. The famous Spanish Steps were also named after him, and he started the University of Camerino.
Works of note
People knew Pope Benedict XIII for his dedication to the church and his work to help people. He built and fixed up a lot of churches, made hospitals, and worked very hard to help the poor and downtrodden. He was given the title of “Second Founder” of Benevento, a city where he had worked for almost 40 years, in honor of his kindness and selfless work for good causes.
Personal History and Legacies
He lived to be 81 years old and died of Catarrh on February 21, 1730.
In 1755, when Pope Benedict XIV was in power, the process to make him a saint began. However, it was stopped soon after. It was opened again and closed again twice. He was finally given the title “Servant of God” after he died.
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