Pope Benedict XIII

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Benedict XIII
Benedict XIII.jpg
Papacy began 29 May 1724
Papacy ended 21 February 1730
Predecessor Innocent XIII
Successor Clement XII
Ordination 24 February 1671
by Pope Clement X
Consecration 3 February 1675
by Paluzzo Paluzzi Altieri Degli Albertoni
Created Cardinal 22 February 1672
by Pope Clement X
Personal details
Birth name Pietro Francesco Orsini
Born (1650-02-02)2 February 1650[1]
Gravina in Puglia, Kingdom of Naples
Died 21 February 1730(1730-02-21) (aged 81)
Rome, Papal State
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Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Other popes named Benedict

Pope Benedict XIII (Latin: Benedictus XIII; 2 February 1650 – 21 February 1730), born Pietro Francesco Orsini, later Friar Vincenzo Maria Orsini, O.P., was the head of the Catholic Church from 29 May 1724 to his death in 1730.[2]


He was born in Gravina in Puglia to Ferdinando III Orsini, duke of Gravina, and Giovanna Frangipani della Tolfa, from Toritto. He was a member of the Orsini of Rome, the third and last member of that family to become Pope. He entered the Dominican Order and received the name Vincenzo Maria. He was named Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto on 22 February 1672 (allegedly, against his will); later he was bishop of Manfredonia, bishop of Cesena and then archbishop of Benevento. He remained a close friend of a local mystic Serafina di dio.

At first, he called himself Benedict XIV, but afterwards altered the title to Benedict XIII (the previous Benedict XIII having been considered an antipope).

Papal styles of
Pope Benedict XIII
C o a Benedetto XIII.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style Servant of God

He endeavoured to put a stop to the decadent lifestyles of the Italian priesthood and of the cardinalate. He also abolished the lottery in Rome. A man fond above all of asceticism and religious celebrations, according to Cardinal Lambertini (later Pope Benedict XIV) he "did not have any idea about how to rule".[3] The government was effectively held in his lieu by Cardinal Niccolò Coscia, who had been Benedict's secretary when he was archbishop of Benevento, and who committed a long series of financial abuses at his own advantage, causing the ruin of the Papal treasure. According to Montesquieu, "All the money of Rome go to Benevento... as the Beneventani direct [Benedict's] weakness".[4]

In foreign politics, he struggled with John V of Portugal and the Jansenists.

Pope Benedict XIII repealed the world wide smoking ban set by Pope Urban VIII.

Benedict XIII, whose orders were descended from Scipione Rebiba, personally consecrated at least 139 bishops for various important European sees, including German, French, English and New World bishops. These bishops in turn consecrated bishops almost exclusively for their respective countries causing other episcopal lineages to die. As a result, more than 90% of present-day bishops trace their episcopal lineage through him to Cardinal Rebiba.[5]

In 1727 he inaugurated the famous Spanish Steps and founded the University of Camerino.

Benedict died in 1730 and was buried in a tomb in Santa Maria sopra Minerva completed by Pietro Bracci and others. Coscia fled from the city in the circumstance, being excommunicated under the new Pope Clement XII. He was later restored and took part in the conclaves of 1730 and 1740.

The comment to Benedict's death by Pasquino, the popular satirist of Rome, was:

"This tomb encloses
the bones of a little friar:
more than a saint's lover
a protector of brigands"
Benedict XIII plaque, Spanish Steps

See also[edit]



  1. ^ De Caro, Gaspare. "Papa Benedetto XIII". Treccani.it Encyclopedia Italiana (in Italian). 
  2. ^ Pope Benedict X is now considered an antipope. At the time, however, this status was not recognized and so the man the Roman Catholic church officially considers the tenth true Pope Benedict took the official number XI, rather than X. This has advanced the numbering of all subsequent Popes Benedict by one. Popes Benedict XI-XVI are, from an official point of view, the tenth through fifteenth popes by that name.
  3. ^ Rendina, p. 590
  4. ^ Rendina, p. 592
  5. ^ Bransom, Charles (2012). "Apostolic Succession in the Roman Catholic Church". mysite.verizon.net. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Innocent XIII
29 May 1724–21 February 1730
Succeeded by
Clement XII