Gregory XVI.

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Gregory XVI.
Gregory XVI's coat of arms, modern drawing
Anonymous, contemporary lithograph
Colored engraving, 1833
Tomb of Gregory XVI. by Luigi Amici , St. Peter's Basilica

Gregory XVI. (Born September 18, 1765 in Belluno , Republic of Venice ; † June 1, 1846 in Rome ; real name: Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari ) was Pope from 1831 until his death . He is the last Pope to date to be a cardinal but not a bishop at the time of his election . In addition, he was the last member of the order until the election of Pope Francis in 2013 and is still the last monk to be elected head of the Catholic Church.


Bartolomeo Cappellari, son of the notary Giovanni Battista Cappellari, came in 1783 against the opposition of his parents as Fra Mauro in the Order of the Camaldolese one, as a monk of the monastery of San Michele di Murano in the lagoon of Venice . He studied philosophy, theology and canon law; In 1787 he was ordained a priest and in 1790 he became the reading master of the order. In 1795 Cappellari went to Rome. 1799, when Pope Pius VI. was in French captivity, he published a book called Il trionfo della Santa Sede e della Chiesa contro gli assalti dei novatori . In it, Cappellari affirmed the monarchical nature of the church and the primacy and infallibility of the papal office. In 1805 the priest Fra Mauro was elected abbot of the monastery of San Gregorio on Monte Celio in Rome.

Between 1809 and 1814, during the occupation of Italy by Napoleonic troops and the dissolution of the orders ordered by Napoleon , he worked as a lay teacher in Murano and Padua . In 1814, after Napoleon's influence in Italy had ended, he returned to the monastery of San Gregorio in Rome. In 1818 he was elected General Procurator and in 1823 General of his Order. In March 1825 Leo XII appointed him . the Cardinal and in the following year to the prefect of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide . Especially in China , Cardinal Cappellari saw a clear separation between mission and politics, so he allowed the faithful to take part in civil ceremonies without religious content. In the Prussian mixed marriages dispute (see also Kölner Wirren ), however, he insisted on the position that children from interdenominational marriages must in any case be raised Catholic. (In a letter dated January 18, 1839, he admonished the Breslau prince-bishop, Count Sedlnitzky, because of his too lax behavior in defending the rights and teachings of the church.)

On February 2, 1831, after a 54-day conclave , he was surprisingly elected to succeed Pius VIII, who had died on November 30, 1830 . After his episcopal ordination on February 3rd in St. Peter, he was crowned on February 6th .

Gregory XVI. played an important role in the redevelopment of the church's self-image after the church had withstood the storms of the French Revolution with the overthrow of almost all conditions. The strengthening of the spiritual can be understood as a result of the suppression of the worldly influence of the church and, in particular, of secularizations (expropriations). Gregory XVI. played an essential part in establishing the new spirituality in relations with the European states. In Prussia, for example, he supported the Archbishop of Cologne, Clemens August Freiherrn Droste zu Vischering (1773–1845), in carrying out church self-government. With his allocation to the Prussian government, he proclaimed the church's modern claim to independence in spiritualibus . The appointment of Johann Nepomuk von Tschiderer as Bishop of Trento also makes clear his promotion of spiritual renewal.

The close proximity of the Pope to Austrian State Chancellor Metternich is viewed critically in some places . With the help of Austrian troops, he had revolts of the liberal Carboneria put down in 1831 . However, Gregory XVI. rejected “political naturalism” and thus established the principle of Catholicism , which asserts that the spiritual authority of the church takes precedence over political and social systems.

As the first Pope since Benedict XIV , Gregory XVI. to a greater extent papal instructional letters in the form of the encyclical (actually: circulars to the bishops). The sometimes aggressive tone of these learned documents provokes critics to cite them frequently as confirmation of a certain, anti-modern understanding of the papacy. For example, Gregory XVI condemned in his first encyclical Mirari vos of August 15, 1832, not only naturalism , rationalism and religious indifference , but also freedom of conscience and freedom of expression . The appointment of cardinal state secretaries Tommaso Bernetti (officiating 1831–1836) and in particular Luigi Lambruschini (1836–1846), who was adamant about modern tendencies, suggests Gregor’s ecclesiastical conservatism.

Pope Gregory XVI died on June 1, 1846 after a week's illness of complications from an erysipelas . The Swiss cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt, who was in Rome in 1845/46, reports that the Roman population reacted to the news of death and the funeral ceremonies without reverence or mourning.

Cardinal creations


  • Il trionfo della Santa Sede e della Chiesa contro gli assalti dei novatori , 1799 (as Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari)
  • Sanctissimi Domini Nostri Gregorii Divina Providentia Papae XVI Allocutio. Habita in Consistorio Secreto IV idus decembres anni MDCCCXXXVII. Reichel, Augsburg 1838 ( digitized version )


Web links

Commons : Pope Gregory XVI  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ After Fra Mauro, who lived in the same place in the 16th century
  2. Michael Sachs: 'Prince Bishop and Vagabond'. The story of a friendship between the Prince-Bishop of Breslau Heinrich Förster (1799–1881) and the writer and actor Karl von Holtei (1798–1880). Edited textually based on the original Holteis manuscript. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 35, 2016 (2018), pp. 223–291, here: pp. 274 f.
  3. Episcopal ordination on February 3, 1831 in St. Peter , Tagspost for the district capital Augsburg, February 14, 1831, p. 191, accessed on February 16, 2013
  4. The biography of Droste zu Vischering by Markus von Hänsel-Hohenhausen (1991) is the most recent representation of the reign of Gregor XVI.
  5. Article about the last days of Pope Gregory XVI. in the Diario di Roma of June 2, 1846, in a German translation in the Wiener Zeitung of June 8, 1846, accessed on March 24, 2013.
  6. ^ Jacob Buckhardt: Works. Critical Complete Edition, Vol. 9, pp. 501f.
predecessor Office successor
Pius VIII C oa Gregorio XVI.svgPope
Pius IX
Giulio Maria della Somaglia Prefect of the Congregation De Propaganda Fide
Carlo Maria Pedicini