Pope Clement XI

Clement XI
Papacy began 23 November 1700
Papacy ended 19 March 1721
Predecessor Innocent XII
Successor Innocent XIII
Ordination September 1700
Consecration 30 November 1700
by Emmanuel-Theódose de la Tour d’Auvergne de Bouillon
Created Cardinal 13 February 1690
by Pope Alexander VIII
Personal details
Birth name Giovanni Francesco Albani
Born (1649-07-23)23 July 1649
Urbino, Papal States
Died 19 March 1721(1721-03-19) (aged 71)
Rome, Papal States
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Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Other popes named Clement

Pope Clement XI (Latin: Clemens XI; 23 July 1649 – 19 March 1721), born Giovanni Francesco Albani, was Pope from 23 November 1700 to his death in 1721.

Clement XI was a patron of the arts and of science. He was also a great benefactor of the Vatican Library, his interest in archaeology is credited with saving much of Rome’s antiquity. He authorized expeditions which succeeded in rediscovering various ancient Christian writings, and authorized excavations of the Roman catacombs. He was of Italian and Albanian origin.[1]


Early life

Giovanni Francesco Albani was born in 1649 in Urbino to a distinguished family. His mother Elena Mosca (1630-1698) was an Italian, descended from the noble Mosca family of Pesaro, while his father Carlo Albani (1623-1684) was a patrician descended from the noble Albani family that had established itself in Urbino from northern Albania in the 15th century.[2]

Albani was educated at the Collegio Romano in Rome from 1660 onwards. He became a very proficient Latinist and gained a doctorate in both canon and civil law. He was one of those who frequented the academy of Queen Christina of Sweden. He would serve as a papal prelate under Pope Alexander VIII and was appointed by Pope Innocent XII as the Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura. Throughout this time, he also served as the governor of Rieti, Sabina and Orvieto.


Pope Alexander VIII elevated him to the cardinalate in 1690 despite his protests and made him the Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Aquiro but he later opted for the Diaconia of San Adriano al Forno and later, as the Cardinal-Priest, for the titulus of San Silvestro in Capite. He was then ordained to the priesthood in September 1700 and celebrated his first Mass in Rome on 6 October 1700.

Medal depicting Clement XI.


Election to the papacy

Main article: Papal conclave, 1700

After the death of Pope Innocent XII in 1700, a conclave was convoked to elect a successor. Albani was regarded as a fine diplomat known for his skills as a peacemaker and so was unanimously elected pope on 23 November 1700. He agreed to the election after three days of consultation.

Unusually, from the viewpoint of current practice, his election came within three months after his ordination as priest and within two months after he celebrated his first Mass, though he had been a cardinal for ten years previously. Having accepted election after some hesitation, he was ordained a bishop on 30 November 1700 and assumed the pontifical name of "Clement XI". Cardinal protodeacon Benedetto Pamphili crowned him on 8 December 1700 and he took possession of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on 10 April 1701.

Papal styles of
Pope Clement XI
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None


Soon after his accession to the pontificate, the War of the Spanish Succession broke out.

The younger Albani.

Despite initially holding an ambiguous neutrality in world affairs, Clement XI was later forced to name Charles, Archduke of Austria, as the King of Spain, since the imperial army had conquered much of northern Italy and was threatening Rome itself in January 1709.

By the Treaty of Utrecht that put an end to the war, the Papal States lost their suzerainty over the Farnese Duchy of Parma and Piacenza in favour of Austria, and lost Comacchio as well, a blow to the prestige of the Papal States.

In 1713 Clement issued the bull Unigenitus in response to the spread of the Jansenist heresy. There followed great upheaval in France, where apart from theological issues, a strong Gallican tendency persisted. The bull, which was produced with the contribution of Gregorio Selleri, a lector at the College of Saint Thomas, the future Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum,[3] condemned Jansenism by extracting and anathematizing as heretical 101 propositions from the works of Quesnel declaring them to be identical in substance with propositions already condemned in the writings of Jansenius.

The resistance of many French ecclesiastics and the refusal of the French parlements to register the bull led to controversies extending through the greater part of the 18th century. Because the local governments did not officially receive the bull, it was not, technically, in force in those areas – an example of the interference of states in religious affairs common before the 20th century.

During his reign as a pope the famous Illyricum Sacrum was commissioned, and today it is one of the main sources of the field of Albanology, with over 5,000 pages divided in several volumes written by Daniele Farlati and Dom Coletti.

Clement XI made a concerted effort to acquire Christian manuscripts in Syriac from Egypt and other places in the Middle East, greatly expanding the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana's collection of Syriac works.[4] Clement XI also was key in the decision to allow cats back into Christian homes after they were seen as overtly Pagan symbols.

Other activities

Clement XI extended the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary to the Universal Church in 1716 and also elevated 70 men to the cardinalate in 15 papal consistories.

Clement XI confirmed the cultus of Ceslas Odrowaz (27 August 1712), Jakov Varingez (29 December 1700), John of Perugia (11 September 1704), Peregrine Laziosi (11 September 1702), Peter of Sassoferrato (11 September 1704), Buonfiglio Monaldi (1 December 1717), Pope Gregory X (8 July 1713) and Humbeline of Jully (1703). He formally beatified a number of individuals: Alexis Falconieri, Bartholomew degli Amidei and Benedict Dellantella, (1 December 1717) and John Francis Régis (24 May 1716).

He canonized Andrew Avellino, Catherine of Bologna, Felix of Cantalice and Pope Pius V on 22 May 1712, Humility on 27 January 1720, Sancha of Portugal on 10 May 1705, Theresa of Portugal on 20 May 1705, Stephen of Obazine in 1701 and Boniface of Lausanne in 1702.

Contemporary Influence

In his book "Journal of a Soul", while he was preparing for the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII resolved to pray the Universal Prayer and recommends it.

Chinese Rites controversies

Another important decision of Clement XI was in regard to the Chinese Rites controversy: the Jesuit missionaries were forbidden to take part in honors paid to Confucius or the ancestors of the Emperors of China, which Clement XI identified as "idolatrous and barbaric", and to accommodate Christian language to pagan ideas under plea of conciliating the heathen.

Death and burial

Clement XI died in Rome on 19 March 1721 and was buried in the pavement of St. Peter's Basilica rather than in an ornate tomb like those of his predecessors.

Construction activity and patronage

The tomb of Pope Clement XI.

Pope Clement XI shunned nepotism and though his nephew Annibale was appointed a cardinal, it was only through personal merit.

As a builder, Clement XI had a famous sundial added in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri and had an obelisk erected in the Piazza della Rotonda in front of the Pantheon, and a port built on the Tiber River, the beautiful porto di Ripetta, demolished at the end of the 19th century.

He established a committee, overseen by his favourite artists, Carlo Maratta and Carlo Fontana, to commission statuary of the apostles to complete the decoration of San Giovanni in Laterano. He also founded a painting and sculpting academy in the Campidoglio.

He also enriched the Vatican library with numerous Oriental codices and patronaged the first archaeological excavations in the Roman catacombs. In his native Urbino he restored numerous edifices and founded a public library.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clemens XI.

See also


  1. http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/09/21/fr_lombardi_papal_journey_a_blessing_for_all_albanians/1107019, ..."a silver portrait of Pope Clement XI – who belonged to the Albani family, so was traditionally of Albanian origin."
  2. Herbermann, Charles George; Columbus, Knights of; Committee, Catholic Truth (1913). The Catholic Encyclopedia. The New York Public Library: Robert Appleton Company. p. 255. Retrieved 05/12/2010. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. "Accessed 2-5-2012". .fiu.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  4. Heal, Kristian S. (2005). "Vatican Syriac Manuscripts: Volume 1". HUGOYE: JOURNAL OF SYRIAC STUDIES. 8 (1). Retrieved 17 April 2011.


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Clement XI
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Innocent XII
23 November 1700 – 19 March 1721
Succeeded by
Innocent XIII
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