BENEDICT (Benedictus), the name taken by fourteen of the popes.
Benedict I was pope from 573 to 578. He succeeded John III., and occupied the papal chair during the incursions of the Lombards, and during the series of plagues and famines which followed these invasions.
Benedict II was pope from 684 to 685. He succeeded Leo II., but although chosen in 683 he was not ordained till 684, because the leave of the emperor Constantine was not obtained until some months after the election.
Benedict III was pope from 855 to 858. He was chosen by the clergy and people of Rome, but the election was not confirmed by the emperor, Louis II., who appointed an anti-pope, Anastasius (the librarian). But the candidature of this person, who had been deposed from the presbyterate under Leo IV., was indefensible. The imperial government at length recognized Benedict and discontinued its opposition, with the result that he was at last successful. The mythical pope Joan is usually placed between Benedict and his predecessor, Leo IV.
Benedict IV was pope from 900 to 903.
Benedict V was pope from 964 to 965. He was elected by the Romans on the death of John XII. The emperor Otto I. did not approve of the choice, and carried off the pope to Hamburg, where he died.
Benedict VI was pope from 972 to 974. He was chosen with great ceremony and installed pope under the protection of the emperor, Otto the Great. On the death of the emperor the turbulent citizens of Rome renewed their outrages, and the pope himself was strangled by order of Crescentius, the son of the notorious Theodora, who replaced him by a deacon called Franco. This Franco took the name of Boniface VII.
Benedict VII was pope from 974 to 983. He was elected through the intervention of a representative of the emperor, Count Sicco, who drove out the intruded Franco (afterwards Pope Boniface VII.). Benedict governed Rome quietly for nearly nine years, a somewhat rare thing in those days.
Benedict VIII, pope from 1012 to 1024, was called originally Theophylactus. He was a member of the family of the count of Tusculum, and was opposed by an anti-pope, Gregory, but defeated him with the aid of King Henry II. of Saxony, whom he crowned emperor in 1014. In his pontificate the Saracens began to attack the southern coasts of Europe, and effected a settlement in Sardinia. The Normans also then began to settle in Italy. In Italy Benedict supported the policy of the emperor, Henry II., and at the council of Pavia (1022) exerted himself in favour of ecclesiastical discipline, then in a state of great decadence.
Benedict IX, pope from 1033 to 1056, son of Alberic, count of Tusculum, and nephew of Benedict VIII., was also called Theophylactus. He was installed pope at the age of twelve through the influence of his father. The disorders of his conduct, though tolerated by the emperors, Conrad II. and Henry III., who were then morally responsible for the pontificate, at length disgusted the Romans, who drove him out in 1044 and appointed Silvester III. his successor. Silvester remained in the papal chair but a few weeks, as the people of Tusculum quickly recovered their influence and reinstated their pope. Benedict, however, was obliged to bow before the execration of the Romans. He sold his rights to his godfather, the priest Johannes Gratianus, who was installed under the name of Gregory VI. (1045). The following year Henry III. obtained at the council of Sutri the deposition of the three competing popes, and replaced them by Suidger, bishop of Bamberg, who took the name of Clement II. But before the close of 1047 Clement II. died, probably from poison administered by Benedict, who was reinstalled for the third time. At last, on the 17th of July 1048, the marquis of Tuscany drove him from Rome, where he was never seen again. He lived several years after his expulsion and appears to have died impenitent.
Benedict X (Johannes "Mincius," i.e. the lout or dolt, bishop of Velletri) was pope from 1058 to 1059. He was elected on the death of Stephen IX. through the influence of the Roman barons, who, however, had pledged themselves to take no action without Hildebrand, who was then absent from Rome. Hildebrand did not recognize him, and put forward an opposition pope in the person of Gerard, bishop of Florence (pope as Nicholas II.), whom he supported against the Roman aristocracy. With the help of the Normans, Hildebrand seized the castle of Galeria, where Benedict had taken refuge, and degraded him to the rank of a simple priest.
Benedict XI (Niccolo Boccasini), pope from 1303 to 1304, the son of a notary, was born in 1240 at Treviso. Entering the Dominican order in 1254, he became lector, prior of the convent, provincial of his order in Lombardy, and in 1296 its general. In 1298 he was created cardinal priest of Santa Sabina, and in 1300 cardinal bishop of Ostia and Velletri. In 1302 he was papal legate in Hungary. On the 22nd of October 1303 he was unanimously elected pope. He did much to conciliate the enemies made by his predecessor Boniface VIII., notably France, the Colonnas and King Frederick II. of Sicily; nevertheless on the 7th of June 1304 he excommunicated William of Nogaret and all the Italians who had captured Boniface in Anagni. Benedict died at Perugia on the 7th of July 1304; if he was really poisoned, as report had it, suspicion would fall primarily on Nogaret. His successor Clement V. transferred the papal residence to Avignon. Among Benedict's works are commentaries on part of the Psalms and on the Gospel of Matthew. His beatification took place in 1733.
See C. Grandjean, "Registres de Benoît XI." (Paris, 1883 ff.), Bibliothèque des Ecoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome.
Benedict XII (Jacques Fournier), pope from 1334 to 1342, the son of a miller, was born at Saverdun on the Arriège. Entering the Cistercian cloister Bolbonne, and graduating doctor of theology at Paris, he became in 1311 abbot of Fontfroide, in 1317 bishop of Pamiers and in 1326 of Mirepoix. Created cardinal priest of Santa Prisca in 1327 by his uncle John XXII. he was elected his successor on the 20th of December 1334. Benedict made appointments carefully, reformed monastic orders and consistently opposed nepotism. Unable to remove his capital to Rome or to Bologna, he began to erect a great palace at Avignon. In 1336 he decided against a pet notion of John XXII. by saying that souls of saints may attain the fulness of the beatific vision before the last judgment. In 1339 he entered upon fruitless negotiations looking toward the reunion of the Greek and Roman churches. French influence made futile his attempt to come to an understanding with the emperor Louis the Bavarian. He died on the 25th of April 1342.
See the source publications of G. Daumet (Lettres closes, patentes et curiales, ... Paris, 1899 ff.), and J.-M. Vidal (Lettres communes, ... Paris, 1903 ff.).
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Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna), (c.1328-1422 or 1423), anti-pope, belonged to one of the most noble families in Aragon. His high birth, his legal learning - he was for a long time professor of canon law at Montpellier - and the irreproachable purity of his life, recommended him to Pope Gregory XI, who created him cardinal in 1375. He was almost the only one who succeeded in making a firm stand in the tumultuous conclave of 1378; but the deliberation with which he made up his mind as to the validity of the election of Urban VI. was equalled, when he took the side of Clement VII., by the ardour and resourcefulness which he displayed in defending the cause of the pope of Avignon; it was mainly to him that the latter owed his recognition by Castile, Aragon and Navarre. When elected pope, or rather anti-pope, by the cardinals of Avignon, on the 28th of September 1394, it was he who by his astuteness, his resolution, and, it may be added, by his unswerving faith in the justice of his cause, was to succeed in prolonging the lamentable schism of the West for thirty years. The hopes he had aroused that, by a voluntary abdication, he would restore unity to the church, were vain; though called upon by the princes of France to carry out his plan, abandoned by his cardinals, besieged and finally kept under close observation in the palace of the popes (1398-1403), he stood firm, and tired out the fury of his opponents. Escaping from Avignon, he again won obedience in France, and his one thought was how to triumph over his Italian rival, if necessary, by force. He yielded, however, to the instances of the government of Charles VI., and pretending that he wished to have an interview with Gregory XII., with a view to their simultaneous abdication, he advanced to Savona, and then to Porto Venere. The failure of these negotiations, for which he was only in part responsible, led to the universal movement of indignation and impatience, which ended, in France, in the declaration of neutrality (1408), and at Pisa, in the decree of deposition against the two pontiffs (1409). Benedict XIII., who had on his part tried to call together a council at Perpignan, was by this time recognized hardly anywhere but in his native land, in Scotland, and in the estates of the countship of Armagnac. He remained none the less full of energy and of illusions, repulsed the overtures of Sigismund, king of the Romans, who had come to Perpignan to persuade him to abdicate, and, abandoned by nearly all his adherents, he took refuge in the impregnable castle of Peñiscola, on a rock dominating the Mediterranean (1415). The council of Constance then deposed him, as a perjurer, an incurable schismatic and a heretic (26th July 1417). After struggling with the popes of Rome, Urban VI., Boniface IX., Innocent VII. and Gregory XII., and against the popes of Pisa, Alexander V. and John XXIII., Pedro de Luna, clinging more than ever to that apostolic seat which he still professed not to desire, again took up the struggle against Martin V., although the latter was recognized throughout almost all Christendom, and, before his death (29th November 1422, or 23rd May 1423), he nominated four new cardinals in order to carry the schism on even after him.
See Fr. Ehrle, Archiv für Lit. und Kirchengesch. vols. v., vi., vii.; N. Valois, La France et le grand schisme d'occident (4 vols., Paris, 1896-1902); Fr. Ehrle, "Martin de Alpartils chronica actitatorum temporibus domini Benedicti XIII." (Quellen und Forschungen aus dem Geb. der Gesch., Görres-Gesellschaft, Paderborn, 1906).
Benedict XIII (Piero Francesco Orsini), pope from 1724 to 1730, at first styled Benedict XIV., was born on the 2nd of February 1649, of the ducal family of Orsini-Gravina. In 1667 he became a Dominican (as Vincentius Maria), studied theology and philosophy, was made a cardinal in 1672 and archbishop of Benevento in 1686. Elected pope on the 29th of May 1724, he attempted to reform clerical morals; but neither the decrees of the Latin council (1725) nor his personal precepts had much effect. He confirmed the bull Unigenitus; but, despite the Jesuits, allowed the Dominicans to preach the Augustinian doctrine of grace. State affairs he left entirely to the unpopular Cardinal Nicolo Coscia. He died on the 21st of February 1730. His works, were published in 3 vols. at Ravenna in 1728.
Benedict XIV. (Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini), pope from 1740 to 1758, was born at Bologna on the 31st of March 1675. At the age of thirteen he entered the Collegium Clementinum at Rome. He served the Curia in many and important capacities, yet devoted his leisure time to theological and canonistic study. Benedict XIII. made him archbishop of Theodosia in partibus, then of Ancona (1727), and the next year created him cardinal priest. In 1731 Clement XII. translated him to his native city of Bologna, where as archbishop he was both efficient and popular. He published valuable works, notably De servorum Dei beatificatione et canonizatione, De sacrificio missae, as well as a treatise on the feasts of Christ and the Virgin and of some saints honoured in Bologna. In a conclave which had lasted for months he was elected on the 17th of August 1740 the successor of Clement XII. Benedict XIV. was not merely earnest and conscientious, but of incisive intellect, and unfailingly cheerful and witty. In several respects he bettered the economic conditions of the papal states, but was disinclined to undertake the needed thorough-going reform of its administration. In foreign politics he made important concessions to Portugal, Naples, Sardinia, Spain, and was the first pope expressly to recognize the king of Prussia as such. In 1741 he issued the bull Immensa pastorum principis, demanding more humane treatment for the Indians of Brazil and Paraguay, and in the bulls Ex quo singulari (1742) and Omnium sollicitudinum (1744) he rebuked the missionary methods of the Jesuits in accommodating their message to the heathen usages of the Chinese and of the natives of Malabar. In accord with the spirit of the age he reduced the number of holy days in several Catholic countries. To the end of his life he kept up his studies and his intercourse with other scholars, and founded several learned societies. His masterpiece, Libri octo de synoda diocesana, begun in Bologna, appeared during his pontificate. He died on the 3rd of May 1758.
His works, published in twelve quarto volumes at Rome (1747-1751), appeared in more nearly complete editions at Venice in 1767 and at Prato, 1839-1846; also Briefe Benedicts XIV., ed. F.X. Kraus (2nd ed., Freiburg, 1888); Benedicti XIV. Papae opera inedita, ed. F. Heiner (Freiburg, 1904). See Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie, ii. 572 ff.; Wetzer and Welter, Kirchenlexikon, ii. 317 ff.
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Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)