(July 20, 1903—August 4, 1903)

No coins were issued.


photo of Luigi Cardinal Oreglia, Camerlengo in 1903

LUIGI CARDINAL OREGLIA DI SANTO STEFANO (1828-1913) was a papal diplomat. He served as Nuncio to Belgium (1866-1868) and to Portugal (1968-1873). On December 22, 1873 he was named Cardinal priest of S. Anastasia, and on the next day was named prefect of the Congregation on Indulgences and Relics. In 1885 he was named Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, an office which he held until his death on December 7, 1913. On March 24, 1884 he became Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina; in 1889 he was advanced to be Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina, then in 1896 to Bishop of Ostia with Velletri. He was Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals at the time of the Conclave in 1903, and the only one who had not been created by Leo XIII (Pierconti, 464).

Prince Mario Chigi (1832-1914), son of Prince Sigismondo Chigi della Rovere Albani, principe de Farnese (1798-1877) and Amalia Charlotte, princesa Barberini Colonna, was the Hereditary Marshal of the Holy Roman Church. On his documents appointing various officials for the Conclave of 1903, he lists his full titles: Maresciallo Perpetuo della Santa Chiesa, Custode del Conclave, Nobile romano coscritto, Principe del Sacro Romano Impero, Principe di Farnese, di Soriano e di Campagnano, Duca di Ariccia e di Formello, Marchese di Magliano Pecorareccio, Signore di Castelfusano, di Cesano, dell'Olgiata e di Scrofano, Nobile di Viterbo, Patrizio di Genova e Veneto (Pierconti, 430). He was assisted at the Conclave by his sons, Don Ludovico Chigi, Principe di Campagnano, and Don Francesco Chigi.

Prince Mario Chigi, Hereditary Marshall of the Conclave, photo 1903

Sede Vacante 1878, Arms of Prince Mario Chigi

Arms of Prince Mario Chigi, surmounted by princely coronet and drapery, flanked by two keys as supporters. The Ombrellone and crossed keys of the Sede Vacante above the shield.

Sede Vacante 1903


S(anctae) R(omanae) E(cclesiae) |



Mazio-Jencius 919.

The Governor of the Conclave was Msgr. Ottavio Cagiano de Azevedo (1845-1927). He was appointed Master of the Papal Chamber on December 31, 1901, and Papal Majordomo (Prefect of the Papal Household) in 1901. He was also a Canon of S. Maria Maggiore (1874) and of the St. Peter's Basilica (1886). On December 11, 1905 he was named a Cardinal Deacon. He became pro-Prefect and then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Religious in 1913, and Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church in December of 1915.

Monsignor Merry del Val, Secretary of the Conclave of 1903Monsignor Cagiano, Papal Majordomo, Governor of the Conclave


The Secretary of the Conclave was Monsignor Rafael Merry del Val y Zulueta (1865-1930), titular Archbishop of Nicaea (1900) [immediately above, left]. When the Secretary of the Sacred College, who would have served as Secretary of the Conclave, suddenly died, Merry del Val was elected to replace him. Merry del Val was born in London, the son of a Spanish diplomat, the Marques Rafael Merry del Val, and Sophia de Zulueta, the daughter of the Count of Torre Diaz. The young Rafael, who grew up in England, was sent to the Scottish College in Rome for graduate study. After obtaining several doctorates (philosophy, theology, canon law) from church institutions, the Gregorian University and the Academy for Noble Ecclesiastics, he was ordained (1888). He served as private secretary to Archbishop Galimberti when he was on diplomatic missions in Germany and Austria-Hungary. Merry del Val obtained a position at the Vatican in 1891 as a Privy Chamberlain. In 1896 he was secretary of the mission which decided the question of Anglican Orders. In 1897 he was sent to Canada as Apostolic Delegate to deal with pressing problems in church-state relations in the field of education. His success brought him the post of President of the Academy for Noble Ecclesiastics (1897-1903). In 1900 he was made itiular bishop of Nicaea. During the Conclave of 1903, he played an active role in marshalling opposition to Cardinal Rampolla and support for Cardinal Sarto of Venice—which was far beyond the requirments or expectations of his office. He was made a cardinal (with the titulus of S. Prassede) by Pius X, the first, in fact, of Pius' reign (November 9, 1903), and became Secretary of State (November 12, 1903 in succession to Cardinal Rampolla. When he was deprivede of the office of Secretary of State by the new Pope, Benedict XV, in August, 1914, he was appointed head of the Holy Office (1914-1930). His personal diary survives, but it has not been published.

The Maestro di Ceremonie (Prefetto delle Ceremonie pontificali) was Msgr. Francesco Riggi (Pierconti, 469).  He was assisted by Msgr. Nazareno Marzolini [Grissell, pp. 28, 32, 44]


Death of Leo XIII

In 1903 Pope Leo was 93 years of age (born March 2, 1810). The Pope first began to exhibit symptoms of illness after his postprandial walk on Friday, July 3, 1903. He had suffered from insomnia on the previous two nights, and was exhibiting symptoms of general weakness. When examined by the Papal Arch-Physician, Dr. Giuseppe Lapponi, the Pope was diagnosed as having pain in his right thorax and fluid in the lungs. He was advised to rest. Cardinal Rampolla, the Secretary of State, was kept informed, as was Count Riccardo Pecci and Count Camillo Pecci, the pope's nephews. Nonetheless, the Pope continued to give audiences. A notice in L' Osservatore Romano announced that the Pope was suffering from fatigue and had been advised to take several days of absolute rest.

On Saturday night the Pope's discomfort worsened, he got no sleep, and Dr. Lapponi decided to consult with Prof. Gaetano Mazzoni, who had once operated successfully on the Pope for a cist. On Sunday, July 5, the doctors issued a bulletin that the Pope was suffering from "epatizzazione polmonare senile" in the lower lobe of the right lung. Cardinal Rampolla notified Cardinal Oreglia, the Camerlengo, of the Pope's condition, as well as the other cardinals resident in Rome. The Vicar-General of Rome, Cardinal Respighi, had a general announcement posted, calling for prayers for the Pope and ordering the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The Pope himself received Communion and made a formal Profession of Faith. During the following night the pope had difficulty resting, and doctors prescribed digitalis and camphor. In the evening bulletin on Monday, the doctors reported "accentuated evidence of general decline, more frequent and more superficial respiration, weak pulse, and subnormal temperature" At 10:00 p.m. the Papal Sacristan, Msgr. Guglielmo Pifferi, administered Extreme Unction. Leo asked Dr. Lapponi to be sure to tell him as the last moment approached (Pierconti, 18).

On Tuesday morning, the doctor noticed that fluid was accumulating in the lung cavity of the Pope, and that his heart function was diminished. That afternoon, Dr. Mazzoni drained the fluid from the chest cavity with a syringe, using cocaine as an anasthetic (Pierconti, 26). Later that day, a diminution in renal function was observed. But the Pope was able to sleep during the night, and his labored breathing eased. The strain on his heart was lessened. The condition remained stable until mid-Thursday afternoon, when there was a sudden change for the worse in the Pope's condition. Another medical consultant was brought in, Prof. Eugenio Rossoni. He advised another draining of the lung cavity (Pierconti, 56). This was carried out on Friday morning, July 10, by Dr. Mazzoni, who drained a liter of fluid (Pierconti, 66). This stabilized the Pope's condition for several days. On Thursday, the 16th, however, some accumulation began to be noticed again (Pierconti, 157). During the night of the 17th/18th, the Pope was distressed and unable to sleep.

Cardinal Vannutelli, the Major PenitentiaryOn the morning of the 19th of July, the Pope's condition was much worsened. His breathing became more rapid, his pulse weaker. Cardinal Rampolla sent for Cardinal Serafino Vannutelli, the Major Penitentiary, whose office it was to assist the Pope in his last hours (Periconti, 190). Shortly after noon he also sent a telegram to all Papal Nuncios alerting them of the Pope's grave condition and calling for prayers. The evening examination by the three attending physicians indicated that the Pope's condition had further weakened. During the night the Pope was given injections of caffeine and camphor. During the morning of the 20th of July, 1903, Cardinal Oreglia, the Cardinal Camerlengo and Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, took up residence in the Vatican Palace (Pierconti, 202). Late in the morning the Pope showed signs of being on the verge of the death agony. The Major Penitentiary was summoned. Shortly thereafter his breathing became seriously labored. He expressed the wish to see the Cardinals. When they had gathered around his bed, he bade them farewell. He took Cardinal Oreglia's hand, and said, "Addio! Vi raccommando la Chiesa." Shortly after the Cardinals retired, the Pope had breathing trouble and a coughing fit. One after the other his closest familiars in the Papal Court approached the Pope, kissed his hand, and asked for his blessing. Several times he said, "Sia questo l' ultimo vale!" (This is the last farewell!). The Cardinals, Diplomats and members of the Papal Court gathered in the antechambers of the Papal Apartments. The Pope's relatives bade him farewell. In late afternoon the Pope had another crisis and lost consciousness (Pierconti, 208). The final agony lasted around half an hour. At 16,00 hours (4 p.m.), he was pronounced dead. His remains were washed and dressed in papal vestments by the Penitentiaries of the Vatican Basilica, who kept a prayerful vigil during the night.

Next morning, July 21, at 8:45 a.m., a procession accompanied the Cardinal Camerlengo from his apartments to the deathbed of the Pope. The ceremony of the recognition was performed, the De Profundis was sung, and the Absolution of the body performed by the Camerlengo. There was no knocking on the head of the corpse of the Pope with a silver hammer; that feature of the ceremonies had long been abandoned. After the prayers were completed, the Cardinal Camerlengo sat on a stool, while the Dean of the Pronotaries Apostolic drew up the Rogito, which was then read aloud to those present. After a final blessing, the personages retired to the Hall of the Throne, where the Rogito was signed and attested. Its contents were as follows (Pierconti, 235-239):

Die XXI mensis Julii anno MCMIII


Cum Sanctissimus Dominus noster Leo divina Providentia Papa XIII sicut Altissimo placuit circa horam IV post meridiem heri in Palatio Apostolico Vaticano debitum naturae persolverit, E.mus ac R.mus Dominus S.R.E Cardinalis Camerarius, associatus ab Ill.mis et R.mis DD. Camerae Apostolicae Clericis et Cameralibus, meque Collegii Protonotariorum Apostolicorum Decano, se contulit ad Appartamentum Pontificium dicti Palatii, et ingressus una cum omnibus supradictis in cubiculo dicti Pontificis, ibi corpus ipsiusmet Pontificis adhuc in suo lecto existens exanimatum invenit. Eique debitis reverentiis et pro Eius anima precibus effusis, Annulum deinde Piscatorium sibi tradendum petiit ab et Domino Caietano Bisleti Praefecto dicti cubiculi, qui illico et continenter Annulum praedictum, per eum ex quadam bursa sumptum, praeladato et D. Cardinali Camerario tradidit et consignavit, quem idem E.mus et R.mus Dominus accepit ad effectum deferendi in prima proxima congregatione E.morum et R.morum DD. S.R.E. Cardinalium, deque illo dictum Ill.mum et R.mum D. Praefectum cubiculi praesentem quietavit in forma et omni, etc.

Successive praeladatus E.mus ac R.mus Dominus Cardinalis mandavit confici inventarium cubiculi praedicti et mansionum dicti Palatii cum interventu illius et illorum R.morum Clericorum Rev. Camerae Apostolicae qui ad it deputatu fuerint.

After the examination of his internal organs during the enbalming, Dr. Lapponi issued a death certificate, in which the cause of death was stated to be "polmonite adinamica con susseguente pleurite emoragiaca" (Pierconti, 217).


The Cardinals

A list of the Cardinals, their conclavisti, and other participants in the Conclave of 1903 is given in Pierconti (pp. 493-502). A complete list of Cardinals is provided by "Spectator alter" (pp. 184-186) and by Civiltà Cattolica (pp. 477-479). Thirty-eight of the Cardinals were Italian (just under 60%). The average age of the cardinals was 65.6 years.


Cardinals attending:

  1. Luigi Oreglia di Santo Stefano (aged 75), Suburbicarian Bishop of Ostia e Velletri , Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals
  2. Serafino Vannutelli (aged 68), Suburbicarian Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina Major Penitentiary Sub-Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals.
  3. Mario Mocenni (aged 80), Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina
  4. Antonio Agliardi (aged 70), Suburbicarian Bishop of Albano. Vice-Chancellor of the S.R.E. [Pierconti, 178]
  5. Vincenzo Vannutelli (aged 66), Suburbicarian Bishop of Palestrina
  6. Francesco Satolli (aged 64), Suburbicarian Bishop of Frascati

  7. Jose Sebastião Neto, OFM (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of SS. XII Apostoli. Patriarch of Lisbon
  8. Alfonso Capecelatro, Orat.(aged 79), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria del Popolo. Archbishop of Capua
  9. Benoit-Marie Langenieux (aged 78), Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni a Porta Latina. Archbishop of Reims
  10. James Gibbons (aged 80), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere. Archbishop of Baltimore
  11. Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia. ex-Secretary of State of His Holiness. Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica.
  12. François-Marie-Benjamin Richard (aged 84), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Via. Archbishop of Paris
  13. Pierre-Lambert Goosens (aged 76), Cardinal Priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme. Archbishop of Malines
  14. Anton Joseph Gruscha (aged 82), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria degli Angeli. Archbishop of Vienna
  15. Angelo Di Pietro (aged 75), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina. Pro-Datary of His Holiness.
  16. Michael Logue (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Pace. Archbishop of Armagh
  17. Kolos Ferenc Vaszary, OSB (aged 71), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti. Archbishop of Esztergom
  18. Georg von Kopp (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of S. Agnese fuori le mura. Bishop of Wroclaw (Breslau)
  19. Adolph-Louis Perraud, Orat. (aged 74), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in Vincoli. Bishop of Autun
  20. Victor-Lucien-Sulpice Leçot (aged 72), Cardinal Priest of S. Pudenziana. Archbishop of Bordeaux
  21. Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of S. Bernardo alle Terme. Patriarch of Venice
  22. Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervás (aged 70), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio. Archbishop of Toledo
  23. Domenico Svampa (aged 52), Cardinal Priest of S. Onofrio. Archbishop of Bologna
  24. Andrea Carlo Ferrari (aged 52), Cardinal Priest of S. Anastasia. Archbishop of Milan
  25. Girolamo Maria Gotti, OCD (aged 69), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Scala. ex-Prefect of the SC de propaganda fide
  26. Salvador Casañas y Pagés (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Quirico e Giulitta. Bishop of Barcelona
  27. Achille Manara (aged 75), Cardinal Priest of S. Pancrazio. Archbishop of Ancona, bishop of Umana
  28. Domenico Ferrata (aged 56), Cardinal Priest of S. Prisca ex-Prefect, SC of Bishops
  29. Serafino Cretoni (aged 69), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria sopra Minerva ex-Prefect, SC on Rites.
  30. Giuseppe Prisco (aged 69), Cardinal Priest of S. Sisto. Archbishop of Naples
  31. José Martín de Herrera y de la Iglesia (aged 67), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Traspontina. Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela
  32. Pierre-Hector Coullie (aged 74), Cardinal Priest of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio. Archbishop of Lyon
  33. Guillaume-Marie-Joseph Labouré (aged 61), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria Nuova. Archbishop of Rennes
  34. Giovanni Battista Casali del Drago (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Vittoria
  35. Francesco di Paola Cassetta (aged 61), Cardinal Priest of S. Crisogono and SS. Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia in commendam
  36. Alessandro Sanminiatelli-Zabarella (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro
  37. Gennaro Portanova (aged 57), Cardinal Priest of S. Clemente. Archbishop of Reggio Calabria
  38. Giuseppe Francica Nava di Bontife (aged 57), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo. Archbishop of Catania
  39. François-Desiré Matthieu (aged 64), Cardinal Priest of S. Sabina former Archbishop of Toulouse.
  40. Pietro Respighi (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Quattro Coronati. Vicar-General of Rome.
  41. Agostino Richelmy (aged 52), Cardinal Priest of S. Eusebio. Archbishop of Turin
  42. Sebastiano Martinelli, OESA (aged 54), Cardinal Priest of S. Agostino
  43. Casimiro Gennari (aged 63), Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello
  44. Lev Skrbensky z Hriste (aged 40), Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano al Monte Celio. Archbishop of Prague
  45. Giulio Boschi (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Panisperna. Archbishop of Ferrara
  46. Jan Kniaz de Kozielsko Puzyna (aged 60), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Vitale, Valeria, Gervasio e Protasio.  Bishop of Kraków
  47. Bartolomeo Bacilieri (aged 61), Cardinal Priest of S. Bartolomeo all’Isola. Bishop of Verona
  48. Carlo Nocella (aged 76), Cardinal Priest of S. Callisto ex-Secretary, SC Consistorial.
  49. Beniamino Cavicchioni (aged 66), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Ara Coeli ex-Secretary SC of the Council.
  50. Andrea Aiuti (aged 54), Cardinal Priest without titulus, Nuncio to Portugal.
  51. Emidio Taliani (aged 65), Cardinal Priest without titulus, Nuncio to Austria
  52. Sebastián Herrero y Espinosa de los Monteros (aged 81), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Bonifacio ed Alessio. Archbishop of Valencia
  53. Johannes Katschthaler (aged 71), Cardinal Priest of S. Tommaso in Parione. Archbishop of Salzburg
  54. Antonius Hubert Fischer (aged 63), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Nereo ed Achilleo. Archbishop of Cologne

  55. Luigi Macchi (aged 71), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata . ex-Secretary of Briefs. Cardinal Protodeacon.
  56. Andreas Steinhuber, SJ (aged 77), Cardinal Deacon of S. Agata alla Suburra. ex-Prefect of the Congregation of the Index.
  57. Francesco Segna (aged 66), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Portico. Prefect of the Vatican Archives.
  58. Raffaele Pierotti, OP (aged 66), Cardinal Deacon of Cardinal-Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano.
  59. Francesco Salesio della Volpe (58), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Aquiro.
  60. José de Calasanz Vives y Tutó, OFM Cap. (aged 49), Cardinal Deacon of S. Adriano al Foro.
  61. Luigi Tripepi (aged 67), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Domnica Prefect SC Indulgences and Relics.
  62. Felice Cavagnis (aged 62), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria ad Martyres (Pantheon). ex-Secretary SC Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs.

Cardinals not attending:

  1. Pietro Celesia, OSB (aged 89), Cardinal Priest of S. Marco. Archbishop of Palermo
  2. Francis Patrick Moran (aged 72), Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna. Archbishop of Sydney


The First Congretation of Cardinals after the death of Pope Leo XIII took place on the morning after his death, July 21, at 10:30. Twenty-seven Cardinals attended. The Cardinal Camerlengo, Cardinal Luigi Oreglia, presided. The cardinals were seated according to their rank in the Sacred College, and, within the ranks, according to their seniority. An oath of secrecy was administered to each of the participants. Owing to the death of Msgr. Volpini, the Secretary of the Consistorial Congregation, who would have been Secretary of the Conclave ex officio, the Cardinals elected Msgr. Raffaele Merry del Val, titular Archbishop of Nicaea, as his replacement. While this meeting was in progress, in the death-chamber, a death-mask of Pope Leo XIII was being made. At 4:30 p.m. Dr. Lapponi began the enbalming of the body of the late Pope, during which an autopsy of the body was performed (details in Pierconti, 242-243; Grissell, p. 12). That evening the remains were placed on view in the Throne Room. Late that evening the Maestro di Camera superintended the removal the praecordia of the Pope to the Church of SS. Vincenzo ed Anastasio, to be entombed (Pierconti, 246-248).

The Second Congregation of Cardinals took place on Wednesday, July 22, at 10:00 a.m. Twenty-seven cardinals attended. It was decided that the body of the late Pope would be transferred to the Vatican Basilica that evening, under the direction of Msgr. Riggi, the Maestro di Ceremonie (Pierconti, 304-310), and, by unanimous vote, that the Conclave would be held in Rome.

At the Fifth Congregation, on Saturday, July 25, with thirty-eight cardinals in attendance, the diplomatic corps was received by the College of Cardinals.

The Ceremonies of the novendiales began in St. Peter's Basilica on the morning of Thursday, July 23 (Pierconti, 333). The Third Congregation decided that the entombment of the deceased would take place on evening of the the 25th of July.

On Sunday, July 26, the Last Will and Testament of Leo XIII (dated July 8, 1900) was opened and read in the Consistorial Hall of the Vatican Palace (Pierconti, 384-386).  The executors were Cardinal Rampolla, Cardinal Mocenni and Cardinal Cretoni. The pope had left everything to the Holy See.  There was also an envelope with 50,000 lire in it, for distribution to the poor of Rome, 20,000 lire for the poor of Perugia, and 10,000 lire for the poor of Carpineto. [Grissell, p. 10].

On Tuesday, July 28, the solemn Requiem Mass was sung by Cardinal Serafino Vannutelli, the Major Penitentiary.

On Wednesday, July 29, the solemn Requiem Mass was sung by Cardinal Kopp of Breslau (Wroclaw).

On Thursday, July 30, after the solemn Requiem Mass in the Sistine Chapel, sung by Cardinal Vincenzo Vannutelli, the funeral oration was pronounced by Msgr. Galli.


Opening of the Conclave

photo of Cardinal Sarto, Patriarch of Venice

The Conclave of 1903 began on Friday, July 31. There were 64 cardinals, but two (Cardinal Moran of Sydney and Cardinal Celesia of Palermo) did not participate. For the first time, an American, James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, participated in a papal election.  Among the 'papabili' were said to be Cardinals Antonio Agliardi, Alfonso Capecelatro, Angelo di Pietro, Girolamo Gotti, Mariano Rampolla, Giuseppe Sarto (right), Serafino Vanutelli, and Domenico Svampa. The favorite candidate at the Conclave was the Secretary of State (1887-1903), Mariano Cardinal Rampolla. His principal antagonist was the Camerlengo, Cardinal Oreglia.

At 10:15, the Mass of the Holy Spirit was sung in the Capella Paolina by Cardinal Serafino Vannutelli, sub-Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Fifty-nine cardinals participated (list in Pierconti, 480. At the end of the Mass, the discourse de elegendo pontifice was given by Msgr. VIncenzo Sardi (text in Pierconti, 476-480). At 5:00 p.m sixty-two Cardinals assembled in the Capella Paolina and sang the Veni Creator. That evening, at 9:30, the Conclave was sealed (Pierconti, 487-492).






Cardinal Girolamo GottiIn the first scrutiny, on the morning of Saturday, August 1, Cardinal Rampolla received 24 votes, Cardinal Gotti 17, Cardinal Sarto 5, Cardinal Vannutelli 4, Cardinals Oreglia, Di Pietro and Capecelatro two each; and single votes for Agliardi, Ferrata, Cassetta, Portanova, Segna and Tripepi (Sladen, 79; Mathieu, 128; Irish Ecclesiastical Record 372). The scrutiny was not followed by an accessio vote, the cardinals having decided unanimously to abolish the practice. At the afternoon scrutiny, Rampolla increased his votes to 29 and Sarto to 10; Vannutelli fell back to one vote, and Gotti to 16 (Sladen 80). Black smoke was seen from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel at 6:38 p.m. (Pierconti, 513).

photo of  Cardinal  Jan Puzyna, Archbishop of KrakowOn Sunday, August 2, at the morning scrutiny, Rampolla still had his 29 votes, but Sarto had increased his support to 21; Gotti had 9 adherents (Sladen, 80) [photo of Cardinal Gotti at left], with one vote each for Oreglia, Di Pietro and Capecelatro (Pierconti, 663). At this point there was a most unwelcome intervention: the veto of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, carried by Cardinal Jan Puzyna of Krakow (photo at right), was pronounced against Rampolla. It appears that the directions had come straight from the Emperor himself rather than his government; he had tried to have the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Anton Gruscha, carry the exclusiva, but the Cardinal refused, both on grounds of principle and of personal friendship (Radziwill, 188-190). Rampolla's immediate reply was masterful, "Vehementer doleo de gravi vulnere illato Ecclesiae libertati; quod autem ad me attinet, nihil gratius, nihil iucundius accidere poterat." This was the last time a veto was attempted; the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the claim to an Imperial Veto along with it, became defunct in November 1918. In St. Peter's Square smoke was seen coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel at 11:22 a.m. (Pierconti, 516). At the afternoon scrutiny of August 2, Rampolla's vote actually increased to 30, but Sarto had received 24 votes; Gotti still had 3 (Sladen, 81). Black smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 6:34 p.m. It was estimated that 100,000 persons were waiting in the Piazza San Pietro to see it (Pierconti, 521).

On the morning of Monday, August 3, Sarto drew ahead of Rampolla, with 27 votes to 24, with Gotti again receiving 9 (Sladen, 82). The Austrian veto was having its effect. But the black smoke poured forth again at 11:18 (Pierconti, 525). The afternoon scrutiny saw a major shift in the voting: Sarto had 35, Rampolla 16, Gotti 7, Oreglia 2, Capecelatro 1, and one blank ballot (Pierconti 663). The sfumata began at 6:27 p.m., and again the smoke was black (Pierconti, 527).



On Tuesday, August 4, on the seventh ballot, Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto, Patriarch of Venice, was elected, receiving 50 votes. Rampolla still had 10 and Gotti 2. The rumor began to spread at 10:25, Pierconti notes (p. 530), that a new pope had been chosen, but the names of several cardinals, including Sarto, were being noised about. Meanwhile, at 10:50, Msgr. Merry del Val (the Secretary of the Conclave) and Msgr. Francesco Riggi (who was a Protonotary Apostolic as well as Principal Ceremoniere) were summoned to the Sistine Chapel by Cardinal Felice Cavagnis, the junior Cardinal Deacon. Their presence was desired to witness the Acceptance of his election by Cardinal Sarto, and his choosing of a papal name. The heads of each of the orders, Cardinals Oreglia, Neto, and Macchi, stood before Cardinal Sarto's throne, while Cardinall Macchi asked for Cardinal Sarto's acceptance of his canonical election. When this was given, he asked Sarto by what name he wished to be called. Sarto took the name Pius X. Monsignor Riggi then drew up an official document attesting to the event (Pierconti, 531-532):

In nomine Domini. Amen.

Ego Franciscus Riggi, Protonotarius Apostolicus et S. Sedis Caeremoniarum Praefectus, ex officio rogatus, attestor et omnibus notum facio, Eminentissimum et Reverendissimum Dominum Josephum, Titulo S. Bernardi ad Thermas, S. R. E. Presbyterum Cardinalem Sarto acceptasse electionem de se factam in Summum Pontificem, sibique nomen imposuisse Pium X, ut de hoc publica quaecumque instrumenta confici possint.

Acta haec sunt in Conclavi habito in Vaticano Palatio post obitum fel. rec. Leonis XIII, hac die IV Augusti A. D. MCMIII, testibus adhibitis ac rogatis ac Dom. Raphaele Merry del Val Archiep. Nicaeno, Sacri Collegii Secretario, et RR.DD. Nazareno Marzolini et Francisco Ciocci consociis meis, Apostolicarum Caeremoniarum Magistris.

At 11:50 a.m. the announcement of the election was made from the balcony above the central door of the Vatican Basilica by Cardinal Macchi, the Cardinal Protodeacon.

The Coronation of Pope Pius X took place on Sunday, August 9, 1903, inside the Vatican Basilica. The triregnum (tiara) was placed on his head by Cardinal Luigi Macchi (Pierconti, 636-637).



The new pope presently issued an edict, the constitution Commissum nobis (January 20, 1904), forbidding the exercise of any veto in future conclaves:

Verum, quandoquidem et experientis docuerit, hactenus constituta ad impediendum civile Veto, seu Exclusivam non its votis respondisse, et ob mutata temporum adiunctas huiusmodi civilis potestatis immixtio nostra aetate multo videatur magis omni rationis et aequitatis fundamento destituta, idcirco Nos, pro Apostolico Nobis commisso munere, et Praedecessorum Nostrorum vestigiis inhaerentes, re mature deliberata, certa scientia et proprio motu, civile Veto, sive Exclusivam, quam dicunt, etiam sub forma simplicis desiderii, itemque omnes interventus, intercessiones quaslibet omnino reprobamus edicentes licere nemini, ne supremis quidem civitatum moderatoribus, quovis praetextu se interponere aut ingerere in gravi negotio electionis Romani Pontificis.
Quamobrem in virtute sanctae obedientiae, sub interminatione divini iudicii et poena excommunicationis latae sententiae speciali modo reservatae futuro Pontifici, onmnes et singulos S. R. E. Cardinales, tam praesentes quam futuros, pariterque Secretarium S. Collegii Cardinalium aliosque onmes in Conclavi partem habentes, prohibemus, ne, quovis praetextu, a quavis civili potestate munus recipiant Veto sive Exclusivam, etiam sub forma simplicis desiderii, proponendi, ipsumve hoc Veto, qualibet ratione sibi cognitum, patefaciant sive universo Cardinalium Collegio simul congregato, sive singulis purpuratis Patribus, sive scripto, sive ore, sive directo ac proxime, sive oblique ac per alios. Quam prohibitionem extendi volumus ad memoratos omnes interventus, intercessiones aliosque modos quoslibet, quibus laicae potestates cuiuslibet gradus et ordinis voluerint sese in Pontificis electione immiscere.

His strictures were repeated and amplified by Pope Paul VI in his constitution Summi Pontificis Eligendo (October 1, 1975), in the oath required of Cardinal-electors (Caput III. 49):

itemque nullo modo a quavis civili potestate, quovis nomine, munus proponendi veto seu exclusivam, etiam sub forma simplicis optationis, esse recepturos, neque ipsum veto, qualibet ratione nobis cognitum, patefacturos; nullique interventui, intercessioni aliique cuilibet modo, quo auctoritates saeculares cuiuslibet ordinis et gradus, vel quivis hominum coetus vel personae voluerint sese Pontifìcis electioni immiscere, auxilium vel favorem praestaturos.

The officials participating in the Conclave also have to swear an oath, in which the following is included (Caput II. 46):

Pariter promitto et iuro me nulli interventui, intercessioni aliive cuilibet modo, quo civiles potestates cuiuslibet ordinis et gradus, vel quivis hominum coetus vel personae voluerint sese electioni Pontificis immiscere, auxilium vel favorem praestaturum.



photo of Cardinal Rampolla, 1903




An eyewitness description of all of the events is provided by Hartwell de la Garde Grissell, Chamberlain of Honor di numero to several popes, in his Sede Vacante, being a Diary written during the Conclave of 1903, with Additional Notes on the Accession and Coronation of Pius X (Oxford 1903). Douglas Sladen, The Secrets of the Vatican (Philadelphia 1907) 79-82.  Another moment-by-moment account, with full documentation, is given by Adriano Pierconti, Da Leone XIII a Pio X. Diario del giorno 3 Luglio al 9 Agosto 1903, con documenti inediti (Roma: Cooperativa Poligrafica Editrice 1904).

On the Austrian veto, see [Cardinal François Désiré Mathieu], Les derniers jours de Léon XIII et le Conclave, par un Temoin (Paris: Librarie Victor Lecoffre 1904), 98-115, and for the voting statistics pp. 128-129. The details of the votes were published by the Analecta Ecclesiastica (Rome), from which they were reprinted by the Irish Ecclesiastical Record 14 (1903) 372-373.   [Anon.],   Ignis Ardens: Pio X e la Corte pontificia (Milano 1907), pp. 31-98.

Also:   [Spectator Alter], Die Krisis im Papsttum (Berlin 1904) 138-208; E.C. Smith, Life of Pius X (New York: American Catholic Publication Society 1907), pp. 78-153. Princess Catherine Radziwill, The Austrian Court from Within (New York 1916), 188-190. Peter Frei, Die Papstwahl des Jahres 1903, unter besonderer Berucksichtigung des osterreichisch -ungarischen Vetos (Bern/Frankfurt a. Main 1977). Francis A. Burkle-Young, Papal Elections in the Age of Transition, 1878-1922 (Lanham MD: Lexington Books 2000). Luciano Trincia, Conclave e potere politico. Il veto a Rampolla nel sistema delle potenze europee, 1887-1904  (Roma: Edizioni Studium, 2004).

The Jesuit journal, Civiltà Cattolica  serie XVIII Vol. XI Quad. 1276 (15 agosto 1903), carried an extensive and detailed description of the ceremonies of the Sede Vacante and Coronation of Pius X in its "cronaca contemporanea", pp. 473-484; 610-617.



April 10, 2015 6:04 PM-

© 2007 John Paul Adams, CSUN

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