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Pope Clement XIV

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Pope Clement XIV

Clement XIV
Papacy began 19 May 1769
Papacy ended 22 September 1774
Predecessor Clement XIII
Successor Pius VI
Consecration 28 May 1769
by Federico Marcello Lante Montefeltro Della Rovere
Created Cardinal 24 September 1759
by Clement XIII
Personal details
Birth name Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli
Born (1705-10-31)31 October 1705
Sant' Arcangelo di Romagna, Romagna, Papal States
Died 22 September 1774(1774-09-22) (aged 68)
Rome, Papal States
Buried Basilica of Ss XII Apostles, Rome
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Motto Ursus velox (Quick bear)[1]
Coat of arms }
Other popes named Clement

Pope Clement XIV (Latin: Clemens XIV; 31 October 1705 – 22 September 1774), born Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli, reigned from 19 May 1769 to his death in 1774. At the time of his election, he was the only Franciscan friar in the College of Cardinals. He is the last pope to take the name "Clement" upon his election.

He is best known for his suppression of the Society of Jesus.


Early life

Ganganelli was born in Santarcangelo di Romagna. He received his education from the Jesuits at Rimini and the Piarists of Urbino, and in 1724, at the age of nineteen, entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual with the name of Lorenzo Francesco. In 1741 he was elected as Definitor General of the order.[2] Ganganelli became a friend of Pope Benedict XIV (1740–58), who in 1758 appointed him to investigate the issue of the traditional blood libel regarding the Jews, which Ganganelli found to be untrue.[3]

Cardinal Ganganelli

Pope Clement XIII (1758–69) appointed him Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Panisperna in 1759, at the insistence of Lorenzo Ricci, the General of the Jesuits.

Election to the papacy


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, including the return of Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin to France, the duchies of Benevento and Pontecorvo to Spain, an extension of territory adjoining the Papal States to Naples, and an immediate and final settlement of the vexed question of Parma and Piacenza that had occasioned a diplomatic rift between Austria and Pope Clement XIII.

The conclave 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. During the previous pontificate, the Jesuits had been expelled from Portugal and from all the courts of the House of Bourbon, which included France, Spain, Naples, and Parma. 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.


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 and was installed on 4 June 1769.


Papal styles of
Pope Clement XIV
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

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 reconciliation among the European sovereigns. The arguing and fighting among the monarchs seemed poised to lead Europe towards heavy international competition.

By yielding the Papal claims to Parma, Clement 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 suppress the Jesuits, writing the decree to this effect in November 1772 and signing it in July 1773.

This measure, to late 19th-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 died 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) says that:

[N]o 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

The Jesuits had been expelled from Brazil (1754), Portugal (1759), France (1764), Spain and its colonies (1767) and Parma (1768). Though he had to face strong pressure on the part of the ambassadors of the Bourbon courts Clement XIII always refused to yield to their demands to have the Society of Jesus suppressed. His successor Clement XIV tried to placate the enemies of the Jesuits by treating them harshly: he refused to meet the Superior General, Lorenzo Ricci, ordered them not to receive novices, etc.

The pressure kept building up to the point that Catholic countries were threatening to break away from the Church. Clement XIV ultimately yielded "in the name of peace of the Church and to avoid a secession in Europe" and suppressed the Society of Jesus by the brief Dominus ac Redemptor of the 21 July 1773.[4] However in non-Catholic nations, particularly in Prussia and Russia, where papal authority was not recognized, the order was ignored. It was a result of a series of political moves rather than a theological controversy.[5]

Clement XIV and Mozart

Tomb of Clement XIV.

Pope Clement XIV and the customs of the Catholic Church in Rome are described in letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and of his father Leopold Mozart, written from Rome in April and May 1770 during their tour of Italy. Leopold found the upper clergy offensively haughty, but was received, with his son, by the pope, where Wolfgang demonstrated an amazing feat of musical memory. The papal chapel was famous for performing a Miserere mei, Deus by the 17th-century composer Gregorio Allegri, whose music was not to be copied outside of the chapel on pain of excommunication. The 14-year-old Wolfgang was able to transcribe the composition in its entirety after a single hearing. Clement made young Mozart a knight of the Order of the Golden Spur.[6]

Death and burial

The last months of his life were embittered by his failures and he seemed always to be in sorrow because of this. On 10 September 1774, he was bedridden and received Extreme Unction on 21 September 1774. It is said that St. Alphonse Liguori, assisted Clement XlV in his last hours by the gift of bi-location.

Clement XIV died on September 22, 1774. When his body was opened for the autopsy, the doctors ascribed his death to scorbutic and hemorrhoidal dispositions of long standing that were aggravated by excessive labour and the habit of provoking artificial perspiration even in the greatest heat. His Neoclassical style tomb was designed and sculpted by Antonio Canova, and it is found in the church of Santi Apostoli in Rome. To this day, he is best remembered for his suppression of the Jesuits.

See also


  1. ^ "Pope Clement XIV (1769-1774)". GCatholic. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Suppression of the Jesuits by Pope Clement XIV," The Catholic American Quarterly Review, Vol. XIII, 1888.
  5. ^ Roehner, Bertrand M. (1997). "Jesuits and the State: A Comparative Study of their Expulsions (1590–1990)". Religion 27 (2): 165–182.  
  6. ^ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life: Selected Letters, transl. Robert Spaethling, (W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 2000), 17.


  • Initial text from the 9th edition (1876) of the Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Spring Books, LondonThe Triple Crown: An Account of the Papal Conclaves from the Fifteenth Century to Modern TimesValérie Pirie, 1965.

External links

  • "Pope Clement XIV" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Clement XIII
19 May 1769 – 22 September 1774
Succeeded by
Pius VI
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