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Zelanti (in the singular Zelante from which it. "Eager") since the 13th century a name for conservative members of the clergy and their lay helpers. Its concrete meaning changed with each resurgence of the term, but always denotes someone who shows zeal.

In its original meaning, the Zelanti were those members of the Franciscan order who opposed any change or relaxation of the rule of the order formulated by Francis of Assisi in 1221 and 1223. As a result of Saint Francis' strict requirements regarding the practice of poverty, his followers split into two branches, the Zelanti (or spirituals ) and the Relaxati (later known as the Minorites ). The origin of the fraticels and the reason for their growth inside and outside the Franciscan order are seen in the history of the Zelanti .

In the 18th century the Zelanti were the supporters of the Jesuits in connection with the abolition of the Jesuit order 1767–1773. In the conclave of 1774–1775 the College of Cardinals was divided into two blocks: pro-Jesuit Zelanti in the Curia and anti-Jesuit Politicanti - among the Zelanti were those Curial Cardinals who fought secular influences on the Church, the Politicanti included those cardinals who which belonged to the European royal courts. The two blocks were in no way homogeneous - the Zelanti also differed in moderate and radical.

During the pontificate of Pius VII (1800–1823) the Zelanti were more reactionary than the Politicanti , striving for a strongly centralized church in vehement rejection of secularizing reforms such as those triggered in France by the French Revolution and which now affect the Papal States radiated. The Politicanti, although not liberal, were much more moderate and preferred a conciliatory approach to the problems caused by new ideologies and the incipient industrial revolution in the early 19th century. The Zelanti and the moderates were represented in the conclave of 1823 and in the conclave of 1829 .


  • Trésor de la langue française (print version) and Trésor de la langue française informatisé (TLFi), online version ( CNRS and Université de Lorraine )
  • Hubert Wolf : Pope and the devil. The Archives of the Vatican and the Third Reich. Beck, Munich 2008, p. 268 f.

See also