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Pope Benedict XI

Blessed Pope
Benedict XI
Papacy began 22 October 1303
Papacy ended 7 July 1304
Predecessor Boniface VIII
Successor Clement V
Ordination 1300
Consecration March 1300
Created Cardinal 4 December 1298
by Pope Boniface VIII
Personal details
Birth name Nicola Boccasini
Born 1240
Treviso, Italy, Holy Roman Empire
Died 7 July 1304
Perugia, Papal States
Previous post
Motto Illustra faciem Tuam super servum Tuum ("Let Your Face shine upon Your servant")
Coat of arms Benedict XI's coat of arms
Feast day 7 July
Beatified 24 April 1736
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Clement XII
Patronage Treviso
Other popes named Benedict
Papal styles of
Pope Benedict XI
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style Blessed
File:Coronation of Benedict XI.jpg
The coronation of Pope Benedict XI.
Tomb of Benedict XI.

Pope Benedict XI (Latin: Benedictus XI; 1240 – 7 July 1304), born Nicola Boccasini, was Pope from 22 October 1303 to his death in 1304. He was also a member of the Order of Preachers. Among the events of his brief pontificate was the reverting of his predecessor's papal bull, Unam Sanctam, on papal supremacy.

He was beatified with his cultus confirmed by Pope Clement XII in 1736. He is a patron of Treviso.


Pre-papal career

Boccasini was born in Treviso to Boccasio and Berarda and he studied in Milan from 1262 to 1267.

He entered the Order of Preachers in 1257 and later became a professed member of the Order of Preachers and served as a professor of theology in Venice and Treviso. He was appointed as the Master of the Order of Preachers in 1296 and issued ordinances that forbade public questioning of the legitimacy of Pope Boniface VIII's papal election on the part of any Dominican.


Boccasini was elevated to the cardinalate on 4 December 1298 by Boniface VIII as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Sabina. He was promoted to the rank of Cardinal-Bishop in 1300 and also received episcopal consecration. He also served as papal legate to France and Hungary. When Boniface VIII was seized at Anagni in 1303, Boccasini was one of only two cardinals to defend the papal party in the Lateran Palace itself.


Papal election

Main article: Papal conclave, 1303

The conclave to elect the successor of Boniface VIII was held in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran and the College of Cardinals desired an appropriate candidate who would not be hostile towards Philip IV of France. After one ballot in a conclave that lasted a day, Boccasini was elected as pope.


He was also quick to revert his predecessor's bull Unam Sanctam which asserted papal supremacy over secular rulers. He was quick to release King Philip IV of France from the excommunication that had been put upon him by Boniface VIII. Nevertheless, on 7 June 1304, Benedict XI excommunicated Philip IV's implacable minister Guillaume de Nogaret and all the Italians who had played a part in the seizure of his predecessor at Anagni. Benedict XI also arranged an armistice between Philip IV of France and Edward I of England.

After a brief pontificate that spanned a mere eight months, Benedict XI died suddenly at Perugia. As original reports had it, suspicion fell primarily on Nogaret with the suspicion that his sudden death was caused by poisoning. There is no direct evidence, however, to either support or disprove the contention that Nogaret poisoned the pope. Benedict XI's successor, Clement V removed the papal seat from Rome to Avignon, inaugurating the period sometimes known as the Babylonian Captivity. He and the French popes who succeeded him were completely under the influence of the kings of France.

Benedict XI was the author of a volume of sermons and commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, the Psalms, the Book of Job, and the Book of Revelation. He also celebrated two consistories to create two new cardinals on 18 December 1303 and 19 February 1304.

Cardinal Caesar Baronius wrote that on the Monday of Easter week in 1304, Pope Benedict XI was celebrating mass, but a pilgrim interrupted it, because he wanted the pope to hear this confession. Rather than telling him to find another time or another priest to have his confession, the Pope left the mass to hear his confession and then returned to continue the mass.[1]


Benedict XI earned a reputation for holiness and the faithful came to venerate him. Pope Clement XII approved his cultus on 24 April 1736 but it was Pope Clement XIV who beatified him in 1773. Pope Benedict XIV extended his veneration to the Republic of Venice in 1748.

Papal numbering

A note on the numbering: Pope Benedict X is now considered an antipope. At the time of Benedict XI's election, however, this status was not recognized, thus 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.


  1. ^ Leonard of Port Maurice. Counsels to Confessors. Loreto Publications, 2008


  1. ^ Leonard of Port Maurice. Counsels to Confessors. Loreto Publications, 2008

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Stephen of Besançon
Master General of the Dominican Order
Succeeded by
Albert of Chiavari
Preceded by
Leonardo Patrasso
Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia
Succeeded by
Nicolò Albertini
Preceded by
Boniface VIII
22 October 1303 – 7 July 1304
Succeeded by
Clement V

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