Leo XII.

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Leo XII.
Coat of arms of Leo XII., Modern tracing
Leo XII., Contemporary illustration

Leo XII. (Annibale Francesco Clemente Melchiorre Nicola Girolamo della Genga) (* 2. August 1760 in the castle of Genga in Fabriano in brand Region, Papal States ; † 10. February 1829 in Rome ) was from 1823 to 1829 Pope .

Origin and Clerical Career

Annibale della Genga belonged to an Italian count family. From 1793 the church jurist was titular archbishop of Tire . In 1794 he was appointed nuncio to the papal curia in Cologne. However, due to the occupation of the Rhineland by French troops, he was unable to take up his official duties there and therefore resided in Munich , where he was formally Internuntius from 1795 to 1796 . In 1814 he became nuncio in Paris , in 1816 bishop of Senigallia and cardinal (titular church: Santa Maria in Trastevere ). In 1820 he became Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome . The conclave elected him Pope on September 28, 1823.


In the 19th century there were two wings in the College of Cardinals : the zelanti (zealots), who aggressively took up the confrontation with modern intellectual currents and risked conflicts with the states, and the politicanti (politicians), who were concerned with diplomacy and compromise.

Leo XII. was counted among the zelanti and broke with the reform policy, from which the Cardinal Secretary of State Ercole Consalvi († 1824) under his predecessor Pius VII had let himself be guided. In 1824, for example, he sent Cardinal Agostino Rivarola to Ravenna , where he restored papal rule with sometimes drastic means. It was not until 1826 that Leo changed his policy and tried to improve the relationship between the Papal States and other European states.

Right at the beginning of his pontificate he condemned the tolerantism , indifferentism and membership in Bible societies that had formed everywhere. Leo XII. seems to have followed the science that flourished in the 19th century and consumed the spirit of the Enlightenment with great suspicion, especially when it threatened to shake religious attitudes.

For Leo XII. had banned smallpox vaccination , however, there is no evidence. The quote is often attributed to the Pope:

"Chiunque procede alla vaccinazione cessa di essere figlio di Dio: il vaiolo è un castigo voluto da Dio, la vaccinazione è una sfida contro il Cielo."

“Whoever undergoes the vaccination ceases to be a child of God. Smallpox is God's judgment, vaccination is a blasphemy from heaven. "

Donald J. Keefe researched this supposed quote and could not find any historical evidence for it.

Leo XII. celebrated the only Holy Year in the 19th century in 1825 (that of 1875 is only formally counted), in which he u. a. which Leonina had minted . The year was a success within Italy, but pilgrims from other countries rarely went to Rome.


  • Artaud de Montor: Histoire du Pape Léon XII. 2 volumes, 1841.
  • Schmidlin I, pp. 367-474.
  • M. Rossi: Il conclave di Leone XII. Lo Stato Pontificio e l'Italia all'indomani del Congresso di Vienna. 1935.
  • EC VII, 1156-1158.
  • LThK 2 . Volume VI, Col. 952-953.
  • Georg Schwaiger : Leo XII. In: LThK 3 6 (1997), 827-828.
  • Kelly: Reclam's Lexicon of the Popes. 1988, p. 322f.
  • Georg DenzlerLeo XII. (Annibale del la Genga). In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 4, Bautz, Herzberg 1992, ISBN 3-88309-038-7 , Sp. 1450-1451.
  • Giuseppe Monsagrati:  Leone XII. In: Massimo Bray (ed.): Enciclopedia dei Papi. Volume 3:  Innocenzo VIII, Giovanni Paolo II. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 2000 ( treccani.it ).

Web links

Commons : Leo XII.  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. For correct biographical information, date and place of birth and surname, see Ph. Boutry, Souverain et Pontife. Recherche prosographiques sur la Curie Romaine à l'age de la Restauration (1814-1846) , Roma, Ecole Francaise, 2002. pp. 359–361.
  2. 2000 years of church u. History of the Pope ( memento of January 10, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), time table, compiled by Karl Veitschegger, Austrian theologian
  3. Donald J. Keefe: Tracking the footnote. Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter ( Memento February 27, 2012 on the Internet Archive ), Volume 9, Number 4, September 1986, pp. 6-7.
predecessor Office successor
Pius VII C oa Leone XII.svg Pope
Giulio I. Gabrielli Bishop of Senigallia
Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata