SEDE • VACAN | TE • MDCCLXXIV
Shield with the Coat of Arms of Carlo Cardinal Rezzonico, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (1763-1799), crossed keys above, surmounted by Cardinal's hat with six tassels on each side; the Ombrellone over all.
VENI • LVMEN • CORDIVM •
MEZZO • SCV:
The Holy Spirit, surrounded by rays and tongues of fire (Pentecost).
Berman, p. 190 #2946.
CARLO CARDINAL DELLA TORRE REZZONICO, iuniore (1724-1799), nephew of Pope Clement XIII (1758-1769), who ordained him as a priest. He was made Referendary of the Tribune of the Apostolic Segnatura in 1751. After his uncle became pope, he was immediately named Cardinal Deacon (September 11, 1758) and Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (1758-1763). He was named Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church on January 24, 1763, a post which he held until his death on January 26, 1799. He was fifty-five at the time of the conclave of 1774-1775, ad was the leader (according to Cardinal de Bernis) of the largest faction. In the new reign (Clement XIV) in 1773 he became Cardinal Bishop of Sabina, exchanging it for Porto and Santa Rufina in 1776. He was Archpriest of the Lateran and Secretary of the Roman Inquisition.
Shield with coat of arms of Msgr. Guglielmo Pallotta, surmounted by clerical hat, with six tassels on each side (signifying episcopal status)
"L' origine de tant de médailles remonte à l'époque où le conclave se tenait toujours au palais du Vatican, et où l'on interdisait à tout le monde, pendant tout le temps de sa durée, l'entrée de la cité Léonine, c'est-à-dire du quartier appelé le Borgo. Alors tous ceux qui, soit pour leurs affaires, soit pour tout autre motif, devaient se rendre dans ce quartier du Borgo, étaient arretés en tête du pont Saint-Ange ou de tout autre pont communiquant avec le Vatican; on ne laissait passer que ceux qui étaient porteurs d'une médaille expressément frappée pendant la vacance du siége au nom de l'un des personnages nommés ci-dessus."
X. Barbier de Montault, Le Conclave (Roma 1878) 19.
MSGR. GUGLIELMO PALLOTTA (1727-1795) was born in Macerata, a relative of cardinals of the 16th and 17th century. He studied law in Rome and became a protege of Carlo Card. Rezzonico. He was made a canon of the Vatican Basilica, and served on the board of the Rev. Fabbrica. He was Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Good Government, and was appointed Treasurer General of the Apostolic Chamber (Reverendae Camerae Apostolicae Thesaurius Generalis) in 1773. He was created Cardinal Priest of S. Eusebio on June 23, 1777, and transferred to Santa Maria degli Angeli (S. Maria in Thermis Diocletianis) in 1782. He was Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Council of Trent from July 1, 1785 to his death on September 21, 1795.
Fabrizio Cardinal Serbelloni was the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals and Cardinal Bishop of Ostia.
The Prefect of the Sacred Apostolic Palaces (Majordomo) and Governor of the Conclave was Msgr. Giovanni Archinto (1736-1799). He was named a cardinal on April 15, 1776.
The Governor of Rome and of the Borgo was Msgr. Giovanni Potenziani.
SEDE VA | CANTE
Shield with coat of arms of Msgr. Giovanni Potenziani, upon a cross of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, surmounted by clerical hat, with six tassels on each side (signifying episcopal status)
Pope Clement XIV had been ill on and off during most of his pontificate (extensively detailed by the French Ambassador in Rome, Cardinal de Bernis, in his dispatches to the French Foreign Ministers, Aiguillon. the Duc de Choiseul, and the Comte de Vergennes). The Pope was under constant extraordinary stress because of the Jesuit issue, deliberately imposed on him by both sides. He was subject to severe depressions, and he imagined that his life was in danger (which was no paranoid delusion), and that he was a target for assassination by poison. Cardinal Bernis noticed a change for the worse in the pope's health in an audience of August 16, which he confirmed on August 24 and 28. On September 7, Clement seemed to be in remission, and even proposed a vacation for himself at Castel Gandolfo. On the 8th he presided at ceremonies at S. Maria del Popolo, and seemed fatigued. He contracted a remittant fever. On the evening of the 19th he had a blood-letting, and another the next morning. On the 21st, at 7 p.m, he received extreme unction, and the next morning, September 8, 1774, at 8:00 a.m. he died. The autopsy indicated—despite rumors, asservations and denials—that he had not been poisoned (Masson, pp. 286-296). It is true that Cardinal de Bernis wrote to the French Minister Vergennes that he believed that the Pope had been poisoned, though he later retracted that view. Nonetheless, the Courts of Versailles, Madrid and Naples professed to believe the story—the same courts which had pressed so hard for the suppression of the Jesuits.
The Conclave began on October 5, 1774, and lasted 134 days. Twenty-seven cardinals entered into conclave, though the number later reached forty-three. The anti-French faction was led by the sub-Dean of the College, Giovanni Francesco Cardinal Albani. The French agent, Cardinal de Bernis was working with the Spanish ambassador, Florida Blanca, to frustrate the plans of some "enthousiastes" (by which he meant the Zelanti) to produce a quick election; the King of France and his minister, the Comte de Vergennes, wished to avoid at all costs a pope who might reverse the final solution of the Jesuit issue (Montor,25, a letter from Bernis to Vergennes of October 19). Cardinal de Bernis did much of the "arranging" personally. He used his cell as a social center, providing various delicacies sent in from outside to entertain his colleagues. He also spent his time searching for someone on the other side who would be reasonable enough to accept the conditions of the Bourbons.
The first candidate to make a showing was Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna, whose progress was being assisted by some votes from French adherents. Bernis put a stop to that candidacy (Montor, 26-27). In a memorial presented to the College, signed by himself on behalf of the French and Cardinal Orsini de Aragona (of Naples) on behalf of the Spanish, they demanded what they termed the traditional right accorded to the great Powers of having the Conclave wait until their cardinals could arrive. In the letter of October 19, Bernis remarkes that the Cardinal delle Lanze is about to arrive from Turin, which will augment the party of the Zelanti (Montor, 32). On October 26, he reports the "mauvaise nouvelle" that Cardinal Migazzi (Archbishop of Vienna) is about to arrive, carrying instructions from the Imperial Court. Migazzi was a friend of the Jesuits, and intimately connected with the "enthousiastes". But Bernis was assured by the two Cardinals Albani, Giovanni (Bishop of Porto; Imperial Minister Plenipotentiary in Rome) and his nephew Alessandro, that the instructions would be general in nature and that Vienna would cooperate with Versailles and Madrid. (Montor, 34-35). Migazzi arrived in Rome on November 19 and entered Conclave on the afternoon of the 23rd. ( Wolfsgruber, 235 )
On February 12, 1775, Bernis had a conversation with Cardinal Braschi, and in it he set forth the requirements of the Spaniards: no restoration of the Society of Jesus, revocation or suspension of the bull In Coena Domini (which excommunicated secular rulers who touched Church property or rights), and no agitation over claims to Parma, Piacenza and the Two Sicilies (which were papal fiefs, but which were occupied by the Spaniards without the proper legalities). On the 13th, Bernis and Braschi met again to determine who would fill the important offices in the papal government. On the 14th, Bernis undertook the job of producing a two-thirds majority for the agreeable Braschi. On the 15th of February, Braschi was elected unanimously. Again, as in 1769, the successful candidate, Giovanni Angelo Braschi (Pius VI), was a person who was not clearly identified with either point of view, and who was ill-equipped to deal with the real threats of the Enlightenment, anti-clericalism, atheism, and republican revolutionary trends.
Pope Pius VI was consecrated a bishop on February 22, 1775, and crowned immediately afterwards, by Cardinal Alessandro Albani, the Cardinal Protodeacon. He took possession of the Lateran Basilica, his cathedral church, on November 30, 1775. (Moroni, 88)
On the death of Pope Clement: Agostino Theiner, Storia del pontificato di Clemente XIV Volume III (Milano: Carlo Turati 1855) 376-400 (including a denunciation of Crétineau-Joly, Clément XIV et les jésuites). Alexis Francois Artaud de Montor, Histoire des souverains pontifes romains Volume VII (Paris 1852) 378-386, refuting the rumors of poisoning and correcting the record as to Cardinal de Bernis' considered judgment. Xavier de Ravignan, Clément XIII et Clément XIV (Paris 1854) 455-457.
On the Conclave of 1774, treat with caution: Jean-François Bourgoing, Mémoires historiques et philosophiques sur Pie VI et son pontificat, jusqu'a sa mort: ou l' on trouve des détails curieux sur sa vie privée, sur ses querelles avec les diverses puissances de l' Europe, sur les causes qui ont amené le renversement du tröne pontifical, et sur la révolution de Rome I (Paris: F. Buisson, 1800) 18 ff. [ill-informed, anti-papalist; among other things, he accepts and uses the forged letters of Caraccioli; see the critical note by Abbé de la Couture in Baldassari, p. 3-4 n.]. Pietro Baldassari, Histoire de l'enlèvement et de la captivité de Pie VI (Paris Adrien le Clerc 1839). Frédéric Masson, Le Cardinal de Bernis, depuis son ministère (1758-1794) (Paris: Plon 1884) 300-318. Gaetano Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Volume 53 (Venezia 1851), 88. Alexis Francois Artaud de Montor, Histoire des souverains pontifes romains Volume VIII (Paris 1852) 18-95 (derived from Novaes, amplified with French documents). Ferdinando Petruccelli della Gattina, Histoire diplomatique des conclaves Volume IV (Paris: 1866) Cölestin Wolfsgruber, Christoph Anton Kardinal Migazzi Fürsterzbischof von Wien (Sanigau 1890) 224-253. Francesco Antonio Vitale, Memorie istoriche e segrete del conclave del pontifice Pio VI, eletto mercoledi 15 febrajo 1775 (a cura di Ortensio Zecchino) (Rubbettino 2005) 78 pp.. Fredrik Nielsen, The History of the Papacy in the XIX Century (tr. A. J. Mason) Volume I (London 1906) 85-87; 165-166.
For the papal bull In Coena Domini, see: The Papal Bull In Coena Domini, translated into English, with a short historical introduction (London: John Hatchard & Son 1848).
© 2008 John Paul Adams, CSUN