1902 Encyclopedia > Gregory XVI (Bartolommeo Alberto Cappellari)

Gregory XVI
(Bartolommeo Alberto Cappellari)
(1765-1846)
Pope from 1831 to 1846




GREGORY XVI. (Bartolommeo Alberto Cappellari), pope from 1831 to 1846, was born at Belluno on September 18, 1765, and at an early age entered the order of the Camaldoli, among whom he rapidly gained distinction for his theological and linguistic acquirements. His first appearance before a wider public was in 1799, when he published against the Italian Jansenists a controversial work entitled Trionfo della Santa Sede, which, besides passing through several editions in Italy, was translated into several European languages. In 1800 he became a member of the Academy of the Catholic Religion, founded by Pius VII., to which he contributed a number of memoirs on theological and philosophical questions. When Pius VII. was carried off from Rome in 1809, Cappellari withdrew to the monastery of San Michele at Murano, near Venice, and in 1814, with some other members of his order, he removed to Padua; but soon after the restoration of the pope he was recalled to Rome, where he received successive appointments as vicar-general of the Camaldoli, councillor of the Inquisition, prefect of the Propaganda, and examiner of bishops. In March 1825 he was created cardinal by Leo XII., and shortly afterwards was entrusted with an important mission to adjust a concordat regarding the interests of the Catholics of Belgium and the Protestants of Holland. On the 2d February 1831 he was, after sixty-four days' conclave, unexpectedly chosen to succeed Pius VIII. in the papal chair. The revolution of 1830 had just inflicted a severe blow on the ecclesiastical party in France, and it seemed as if similar disasters to the papal cause were imminent in other parts of Europe, when Gregory XVI. entered upon his fifteen years' pontificate. Almost the first act of the new Government of France was to unfurl the tricolor at Ancona; and the immediate effect was to throw all Italy, and particularly the Papal States, into a state of excitement such as seemed to call for strongly repressive measures. In the course of the struggle which ensued, the temporal reign of Gregory was marked accordingly by executions, banishments, imprisonments, to an extent which makes it impossible for the candid reader to absolve him from the charges of cruelty and bigotry which were so frequently raised at the time. The embarrassed financial condition in which he left the States of the Church also makes it doubtful how far his lavish expenditure in architectural and engineering works, and his magnificent patronage of learning in the hands of Mai, Mezzofanti, and others, were for the real benefit of his subjects. The years of his pontificate were marked by the steady development and diffusion of those ultramontane ideas which were ultimately formulated under the presidency of his successor Pius IX. by the council of the Vatican. He died 1st June 1846.







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