Thursday, May 26, 2005

I found this interesting when I did it. When the new Pope was named a lot of people in our office went around saying that Benedict was an omen to a harsh pope due to the history of the name. I figured why not look and see, Benedict is a pretty popular name for the popes and seems to be benign.

Name:Pope Benedict I, Preceded by: John III (561 - 574)Succeeded by: Pelagius II (579 - 590)Roman Catholic Pope #62
Dates:Born: ? (Rome, Italy)Died: July 30, 579Pope: June 2, 575 - July 30, 579 (4 years)Feast Day: May 7

Biography:Pope Benedict I reigned during a time when the Lombards were attacking papal lands and Rome itself from the north. The constant incursions proved to be a strain on the papacy and the Roman government and an army sent by the Eastern emperor to help was able to provide only a short-lived relief. Eventually famine hit Rome and Benedict himself died.

Benedict I was pope from June 2, 575 to 579. He succeeded Pope John III, and occupied the Papal chair during the incursions of the Lombards, and during the series of plagues and famines which followed these invasions. Few of the records of transactions outside Rome that help us understand the history of the Papacy survive from Benedict's reign, and perhaps because of the disruption of the Lombards in Italy few ever existed.

Name:Pope Benedict II, Preceded by: St. Leo II (682 - 683)Succeeded by: John V (685 - 686)Roman Catholic Pope #81
Dates:Born: ? (Rome, Italy)Died: May 8, 685Pope: June 26, 684 - May 8, 685 (10 months)Feast Day: May 7

Biography:Pope Benedict II had to wait an entire year after his actual election before he received official approval from the emperor. Because of this, he was able to get the emperor to agree to allow the imperial exarach in Ravenna to approve of papal consecrations in order to shorten the time involved.

Benedict II was pope from 684 to 685. He succeeded Leo II, but although chosen in 683 he was not ordained till 684, because the leave of the Emperor Constantine IV Pogonatus was not obtained until some months after the election. He obtained from the Emperor a decree which either abolished imperial confirmations altogether or made them obtainable from the exarch in Italy.
He is the patron saint of Europe.

Name:Pope Benedict III,Preceded by: St. Leo IV (847 - 855)Succeeded by: St. Nicholas I (the Great) (858 - 867)Roman Catholic Pope #105
Dates:Born: ? (Rome, Italy)Died: April 17, 858Pope: September 29, 855 - April 17, 858 (2 years)

Biography:Pope Benedict III, like his predecessors Leo IV and Sergius II, was almost immediately embroiled in conflict with king Lothair who insisted on retaining the right to give approval to the election of any new pope; also like his predecessors, Benedict was determined to assert the independence of the papacy and deny Lothair that right. As a consequence, Lothair appointed an antipope, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, but popular support was firmly behind Benedict and this conflict did not last long. It did, however, help firmly estalblish the split between church and state, with the church generally and the papacy specifically becoming ever more free from political control.
Although Anastasius was initially reduced to lay status and confined to a monastery, he would return under the next three popes to become an important papal advisor and, eventually, librarian of the Roman church (hence the name Bibliothecarius, Anastasius the Librarian).
In some of the medieval accounts of Pope Joan, a woman who allegedly ascended to the papal throne without anyone realizing her true gender, was the actual successor to Leo IV, not Benedict III. Going under the name Pope John Anglicus, he is believed by some to have reigned for two years, seven months, and four days. Her true identity was only revealed when she gave birth to a child while riding in a procession between St. Peter's Cathedral and the Lateran Palace.

Benedict III was reportedly Pope from 855 to 7 April, 858. However legend places the three-year-term of Pope Joan between the reigns of Pope Leo IV and Benedict. Thus only accepting a term of a few months for him.
Prior to his election, Benedict had a reputation for learning and piety, and elected on the refusal of the initial choice of clergy and people, Hadrian: a group of important people preferred Anastasius. This latter group had Benedict's election disavowed and Anastasius installed. However popular opinion was so strong that Benedict's consecration was allowed. The Emperor Louis II's envoys forced Benedict to handle Anastasius and adherents leniently. The schism helped to weaken the hold of the emperors upon the popes, especially upon their elections.
Benedict intervened in the conflict between the sons of Lothair I (the future Lothair II, Louis II and Charles the Bald) on the latter's death. He was active in other cases and adopted a firm position towards Constantinople. Aethelwulf of Wessex and his son, the future Alfred the Great visited Rome in Benedict's reign.

Name:Pope Benedict IV, Preceeded by: John IX (898 - 900)Succeeded by: Leo V (903 - 904)Roman Catholic Pope #118
Dates:Born: ? (Rome, Italy)Died: August, 903Pope: May/June, 900 - August, 903 (3 years)

Biography:Not much is known about the reign of Pope Benedict IV. Rome continued to be divided by conflicts over the late Pope Formosus and few records remain of this time period. Benedict appears to have been a supporter of Formosus, but much more than that is simply not known. Some reports suggest that he was murdered, but this isn't clear.

Benedict IV was pope from c. 900-903. He was the son of Mammalus, a native of Rome. The tenth century historian Frodoard commended his noble birth and public generosity. Benedict upheld the ordinances of Pope Formosus, whose rotting corpse was exhumed by Pope Stephen VI and put on trial in the infamous "Cadaver Synod" of 897. In 901, when the Carolingian emperors disappeared, Benedict could follow the example of Pope Leo III and crown Louis of Provence. In his reign, he crowned Louis the Blind as Holy Roman Emperor and excommunicated Baldwin II, Count of Flanders, for murdering Fulk, Archbishop of Reims. He died in the summer of 903 and was buried in front of St. Peter's by the gate of Guido. He succeeded Pope John IX and was followed by Pope Leo V.

Name:Benedict V, Preceded by: Leo VIII (963 - 964)Succeeded by: John XIII (965 - 972)Roman Catholic Pope #133
Dates:Born: ? (Rome, Italy)Died: July 4, 964Pope: May 22 - July 4, 964 (1 month)

Biography:Benedict V was elected pope in very unusual circumstances. Emperor Otto I had deposed Pope John XII after having found him to be unworthy and forcibly installed Leo VII as his successor. The people of Rome, however, did not like this new pope and expelled him from the city as soon as they were able. They continued to regard John XII as the proper pope and, after he died, they elected the Cardinal-Deacon Benedict as the new pope, Benedict V. Otto was furious that the Romans had elected someone in place of his chosen pope, so he marched on Rome, reinstated Leo VII, and took Benedict V back to Germany with him. He died in Germany and his remains were eventually taken back to Rome. Because of the confusion over succession, it is not entirely clear who qualifies as a valid pope and who is an antipope. If Otto's elimination of John XII was valid, then Leo VII was pope and Benedict V was the antipope. However, if the elimination was not valid, then Leo was an antipope and the popularly acclaimed Benedict was the real pope.

Benedict V (died July 4, 965), Pope (22 May 964 - 23 June 964), was elected by the Romans on the death of John XII. However the Roman emperor Otto I did not approve of the choice, had him deposed after only a month, and the ex-pope was carried off to Hamburg where he became a deacon, dying in July 965.
At the synod which deposed him the pastoral staff was broken over him by Leo VIII; this is the first mention of the papal sceptre.

Name:Pope Benedict VI, Preceded by: John XIII (965 - 972)Succeeded by: Benedict VII (974 - 983)Roman Catholic Pope #135 Antipope: Boniface VII
Dates:Born: ?Died: August, 974Pope: January 19, 973 - July, 974 (1 year, c. 6 months)

Biography: Not much is known about Pope Benedict VI except that he came to a violent end. When his protector, Emperor Otto the Great, died, the Roman citizens rebelled against Benedict and he was strangled by a priest on the orders of Crescentius, a brother of the late Pope John XIII and the son of the Theodora. Boniface Franco, a deacon who helped Crescentius, was made pope and called himself Boniface VII.

Benedict VI, Pope (972 - 974), was chosen with great ceremony and installed pope under the protection of the Emperor Otto the Great. On the death of the emperor the turbulent citizens of Rome renewed their outrages, and the pope himself was strangled by order of Crescentius, the son of the notorious Theodora.

Name:Pope Benedict VII, Preceded by: Benedict VI (973 - 974)Succeeded by: John XIV (983 - 984)Roman Catholic Pope #136Antipope: Boniface VII
Dates:Born: ? (Rome, Italy)Died: July 10, 983Pope: October, 974 - July 10, 983 (8 years)

Biography: The papacy of Benedict VII was plagued by the efforts of antipope Boniface VII, always seeking to undermine Benedict's authority and take his place. Benedict had Boniface excommunicated, but it didn't do any good - in fact, Boniface launched an insurrection and forced Benedict to flee Rome.
Benedict was forced to rely heavily on the emperor for protection; in exchange, Benedict was expected to do just what the emperor wanted.

Name:Pope Benedict VIII, Born: TheophylactPreceded by: Sergius IV (1009 - 1012)Succeeded by: John XIX (1024 - 1032)Roman Catholic Pope #144 Antipope: Gregory VI (May 1012 - December 1012)
Dates:Born: c. 980 (Italy)Died: April 9, 1024Pope: May 17, 1012 - April 9, 1024 (12 years)

Biography:The family of Pope Benedict VIII was heavily involved in Roman political intrigues, and one of the results of this was the election of an antipope, Gregory VI, in 1012 - but when German king Henry II recognized Benedict as pope Gregory quickly disappeared. Benedict then crowned Henry II as emperor in 1014.
Benedict was heavily involved in ecclesiastical reforms, attempting to improve clerical discipline, but he was even more heavily involved in military ventures, even participating in a battle at sea against Saracen forces in 1016.
Benedict VIII, né Theophylactus (died April 9, 1024), pope (1012-1024), of the noble family of the counts of Tusculum, descended from Theophylact, Count of Tusculum like his predecessor Benedict VI, was opposed by an antipope Gregory, who compelled him to flee from Rome. He was restored by Henry II of Germany, whom he crowned emperor in 1014. In his pontificate the Saracens renewed their attacks on the southern coasts of Europe, and effected a settlement in Sardinia. The Normans also then began to settle in Italy.

Name:Pope Benedict IX, Preceded by: John XIX (1024 - 1032)Succeeded by: Sylvester III (1045), Gregory VI (1045 - 1046), Clement II (1046 - 1047), and Damasus II (1048)
Dates:Born: ?Died: late 1055Elected Pope: October 21, 1032Ejected: September, 1044Returned: March 10, 1045Abdicated: May 1, 1045Deposed: December 24, 1046Returned: November 8, 1047Ejected: July 16, 1048Excommunicated: 1049

Biography:Pope Benedict IX was the nephew of his predecessor, Pope John XIX, and some records suggest that he was only twelve years old when he assumed the papacy. On matters of theology he was evidently quite orthodox, but his personal life and political positions cause him no end of trouble. During a riot in 1045 he was replaced with Pope Sylvester III - but this didn't last long and forces still loyal to Benedict returned the following year and restored him to the papal throne.
Soon after that Benedict seems to have tired of the office and sold it to his godfather, who took the name Gregory VI. Unfortunately, Benedict regretted this move and returned to have Gregory removed. In the end, Germany king Henry II grew tired of Benedict's antics and called the Synod of Sutri to settle matters, having Benedict deposed and a new pope, Damasus II, installed in his place. Benedict was also charged with simony (the buying or selling of a church office or ecclesiastical preferment) and, when he failed to appear for judgment, he was excommunicated.
Benedict IX, né Theophylactus (c. 1012 - maybe 1055, 1065, or 1085) was pope from 1032 to 1045. The son of Alberich III, count of Tusculum, Benedict was nephew of Pope Benedict VIII and Pope John XIX. His father obtained the Papal chair for him, granting it to his son in October 1032.
It has been stated that Benedict was no older than twelve when made pontiff. Some sources even claim eleven. If this were true, then he would be the youngest pope ever. But the Catholic Encyclopedia [1] ( and other sources claim that he was around 18 to 20 years old. Since his precise date of birth is unknown, we can say with certainty only that he must have been one of the youngest popes.
Benedict was entirely unsuited to be pontiff; he reportedly led an extremely dissolute life, although in terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. He was briefly forced out of Rome in 1036 and needed the support of Emperor Conrad II to return. In January 1044 he was forced from the city again and replaced by Silvester III, sometimes considered an antipope. Benedict's forces returned in April and expelled his rival.
Benedict then resigned in June possibly desiring to marry, selling his office to Priest John Gratian, his godfather (possibly for over 650 kg of gold). Gratian became Pope Gregory VI in May, 1045. Benedict apparently soon regretted the sale and returned to try to depose Gregory; Silvester also re-emerged to make his claim.
Benedict retook Rome and remained on the throne until July 1046. King Henry III intervened and at the Council of Sutri in December 1046 Benedict and Silvester were deprived of their offices and Gregory was encouraged to resign, Benedict did not actually attend. The German Bishop Suidger was crowned Pope Clement II. Benedict rejected this and when Clement II died in October 1047 he seized the Lateran Palace in November, but was driven away in July 1048 and Poppo of Brixen as Damasus II finally succeeded Clement. Benedict refused to appear on charges of simony in 1049 and was excommunicated.
Benedict's fate is obscure, he may have given up and resigned the pontificate, dying around 1065 in the Abbey of Grottaferrata. Other sources say he died in 1085. Pope Leo IX may have lifted the ban on him. Another report is that he continued to seek support for a return but died in January 1055 or 1056.

Benedict X (1058) = The bearer of this name was an antipope in the days of Nicholas II, 1056-61.
Antipope Benedict X
Pope Benedict X (reigned 1058-1059; died c. 1073 or 1080), was born John Minicus, and later became Cardinal Bishop of Velletri. He was elected in 1058, his election having been arranged by the Count of Tusculum. However, a number of Cardinals alleged that the election was irregular, and that votes had been bought; these cardinals were forced to flee Rome. Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII, had been sent by the late Pope Stephen X to the court of Empress Agnes (mother and regent for Holy Roman Emperor Henry III, then a minor), who had questioned the validity of Stephen X's election. When, on his return to Rome, he heard of Benedict X's election, he decided to oppose it, and obtained the support of the Duke of Lorraine-Tuscany and Empress Agnes for the election of Gerhard of Burgundy, Bishop of Florence, as Pope instead. Those cardinals who had opposed Benedict X's election met at Siena in December 1058, and elected Hildebrand's candidate as Pope, who then took the name Nicholas II.
Nicholas II proceeded towards Rome, along the way holding a synod at Sutri, where he pronounced Benedict X deposed and excommunicated. The supporters of Nicholas II then gained control of Rome, and forced Benedict X to flee to the castle of Gerard of Galeria. Having arrived in Rome, Nicholas II then proceeded to wage war against Benedict X and his supporters, with Norman assistance. An initial battle was fought in Campagna in early 1059, which was not wholly successful for Nicholas II; but later that same year, his forces conquered Praeneste, Tusculum and Numentanum, and then attacked Galeria, forcing Benedict X to surrender and renounce the Papacy.
Benedict X was then allowed to go free, and he retired to one of his family estates; but Hildebrand then had him imprisoned in 1060 in the hospice of St. Agnese, where he died, still a prisoner, sometime around 1073 or 1080.
The most important consequence of the affair of Benedict X was the adoption of new laws on papal elections, at a synod hosted by Nicholas II in the Lateran Palace at Easter 1059.

Name:Pope Benedict XI, Born: Niccolo BoccasinoPreceded by: Boniface VIII (1294 - 1303)Succeeded by: Clement V (1305 - 1314)Roman Catholic Pope #195
Dates:Born: 1240 (Italy)Died: July 7, 1304Pope: October 22, 1303 - July 7, 1304 (8 months)

Biography:A Domician who was born to a working-class family, Pope Benedict XI has become known in history as having had an especially weak papacy. In particular, he proved unable to stand up to the demands of King Philip IV (the Fair) of France. Philip continued to fight against the memory of Pope Boniface VIII, the pope who had excommunicated him and whom Philip had imprisoned as a consequence.
It is worth noting that Boccasino took the name Benedict XI, even though Benedict X is currently regarded as having been an antipope. This demonstrates that those who are today treated as antipopes were not always regarded as having been invalid.
Benedict XI, d. 1304, pope (1303–4), an Italian (b. Treviso) named Niccolo Boccasini; successor of Boniface VIII. Prior to his election he had been master general of the Dominican order. As pope he was able to conciliate many of the enemies Boniface had made, chiefly Philip IV of France, whose excommunication he rescinded. However, he would not yield on the excommunication of Boniface's assaulters, Sciarra Colonna and Philip's emissary, Nogaret. The Colonna faction controlled Rome, and Benedict withdrew to Perugia, a prelude to the flight of the papacy to Avignon under Benedict's successor, Clement V, in 1309. Benedict was beatified in 1638.

Pope Benedict XII Preceded by: John XXII (1316 - 1334)Succeeded by: Clement VI (1342 - 1352)Roman Catholic Pope #198
Dates:Born: c. 1280Died: April 25, 1342Pope: December 20, 1334 - April 25, 1342 (7 years)

Biography:A Cistercian monk, Pope Benedict XII focused himself on ways to reform aspects of the church, in particular some of the luxuries enjoyed by the monastic orders and the ways in which clergy were failing to live up to the standards set for them. Unfortunately, these efforts largely failed.
The papacy at this time was situated in Avignon and, although Benedict wanted to return to Rome, the chaotic political and social situation prevented him and he began construction of the massive Avignon papal palace.
Benedict XII, née Jacques Fournier (c.1280s - April 24, 1342), was pope from 1334 to 1342.
Little is known of the origins of Jacques Fournier. He is believed to have been born in Saverdun in the Comté de Foix around the 1280s to a family of modest means. He became as Cistercian monk and left to study at the University of Paris. In 1311 he was made Abbot of Fontfroid and quickly became known for his intelligence and rigorous organization. In 1317 he was promoted to be Bishop of Pamiers. There he pursued a rigorous witch hunt for heretics, which won him plaudits from the Vatican but alienated him from the local population. His effect on the simple Cathars of Montaillou high in the Ariège was documented by the historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's pioneering work of microhistory Montaillou, village occitan. In 1326, successful at rooting out the last, it was thought, of the heretics of the south, he was made Bishop of Mirepoix. A year later he was made a Cardinal.
He succeeded Pope John XXII as Pope in 1334, but did not carry out the policy of his predecessor. He practically made peace with the Emperor Louis, and as far as possible came to terms with the Franciscans, who were then at odds with the Roman see.
He was a reforming pope, and tried to curb the luxury of the monastic orders, but without much success. He also ordered the construction on the Palais des Papes in Avignon. He spent most of his time working on questions of theology, he rejected many of the ideas developed by John XXII and campaign against the Immaculate Conception. He engaged in long theological debates with other noted figures of the age such as William of Ockham and Meister Eckhart.

Name:Pope Benedict XIII Born: Vincenzo Marco Orsini, Preceded by: Innocent XIII (1721 - 1724)Succeeded by: Clement XII (1730 - 1740)Roman Catholic Pope #246
Dates:Born: February 2, 1649 (Italy)Died: February 21, 1730Pope: May 29, 1724 - February 21, 1730 (5 years)

Biography:A Dominican monk who continued to live as a friar even after his election, Pope Benedict XIII was the last pope to ever hold two diocese at the same time (Rome and Benevento). Perhaps one of the reasons why this has never occurred since is that Benedict's associates from Benevento formed a tight-knit group around him, engaging in corrupt practices and generally ruining Benedict's reputation and papacy. One in particular, Niccolo Coscia, made a great deal of money in selling church offices and taking bribes. He and his associates had little interest in anything other than enriching themselves.
By all accounts, however, Benedict himself was personally beyond reproach. He was more frugal than any of his predecessors and, as a friar, continued throughout his papacy to visit the sick and dying and minister to the poor. It is a pity that someone who could personally exemplify many of the best Christian ideals even when exalted to such a position of power and temptation could nevertheless surround himself with such corrupted and low associates.
At the same time, Benedict was also rather naive and tactless when it came to political affairs. For example, he caused an international incident when he made a point to proclaim a Feast Day for St. Gregory VII. Gregory had deposed the Holy Roman Emeror, an act which was still a sore spot for many through Europe. Benedict's poor understanding of how to handle secular leaders, when combined with the poor reputation of his associates, led to him developing and increasingly bad reputation and a general weakening of papal interests in areas like Siciliy and Sardina.
Pope Benedict XIII

For Pedro de Luna, see Antipope Benedict XIII.
Benedict XIII, born Pietro Francesco Orsini, and later in religion Vincenzo Maria Orsini (Gravina di Puglia, February 2, 1649 - February 23, 1730) was pope from 1724 to 1730. He succeeded Innocent XIII in 1724. At first, he called himself Benedict XIV (due to the superstition alleging that the number thirteen brings bad luck), but afterwards altered the title. He was a reforming pope and endeavoured to put a stop to the decadent lifestyles of the Italian priesthood and of the cardinalate. He was a member of the great Orsini family of Rome, and the last member of that family to become Pope.

Name:Pope Benedict XIV, Born: Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, Preceded by: Clement XII (1730 - 1740)Succeeded by: Clement XIII (1758 - 1769)Roman Catholic Pope #248
Dates:Born: March 31, 1675 (Bologna, Italy)Died: May 3, 1758Pope: August 17, 1740 - May 3, 1758 (17 years, 8 months)

Biography:Pope Benedict XIV had a very active pontifficate because he had many important political matters that had plagued his predecessors and that he was determined to finish off once and for all. Unfortunately, while he was able to settle many things, he often did so at great political cost and with little sense of actual victory. In concordats with Spain, Naples, and others, Benedict conceded the authority of secular leaders to appoint bishops while retaining some measure of influence; however, various political moves also led to his alienating Austria and seriously damaging Church interests there.
Benedict had better luck with internal Church matters - financial strains were eased, reformed the education of priests, condemned Jansenism once again, and revised the calendar of feasts. Less popular was his decision, promulgated in two papal bulls (Ex quo singulari and Omnium solicitudinum) that missionaries should not use Christian terminology to describe the ideas and practices of native cultures. As a consequence, many native converts abandoned Catholicism in favor of the traditional beliefs of their cultures.

Pope Benedict XIV, Ben·e·dict XIV (bĕn'ĭ-dĭkt') , (Originally Prospero Lambertini.) 1675–1758. Pope (1740–1758) who founded scientific academies, was a patron of the arts, and was tolerant of non-Catholic denominations.
Benedict XIV, 1675–1758, pope (1740–58), an Italian (b. Bologna) named Prospero Lambertini; successor of Clement XII. Long before his pontificate he was renowned for his learning and wrote a classic treatise on the subject of canonization (1734–38). In 1728 he became a cardinal. He was much interested in the Eastern churches and began (with the bull Etsi pastoralis, 1742) the modern papal legislation that favors the Eastern rites and prohibits activity that is likely to Latinize them. He beautified Rome and restored monuments, and he was munificent to Bologna. He patronized learning and welcomed scholars and artists to his court. He denounced the cruelty to the Native Americans in the disbanding of the Paraguay reductions. He was succeeded by Clement XIII.

Pope Benedict XIV

Scholar Pope, Benedict XIV
Benedict XIV, né Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini (Bologna, March 31, 1675 - Rome, May 3, 1758) was pope from 1740 to 1758.
He belonged to a noble family of Bologna, at that time the second largest city in the Papal States. Elected to the Papal chair in a time of great difficulties, chiefly caused by the disputes between Roman Catholic nations and the Papacy about governmental demands to nominate bishops rather than leaving the appointment to the church, he managed to ovecome most of them. The disputes of the Holy See with the Kingdom of Naples, Sardinia, Spain, Venice and Austria were settled. The conclave which elected him had lasted 6 months; he said to the cardinals: "If you wish to elect a saint, choose Gotti; a statesman, Aldobrandini; an honest man, elect me." He had a very active papacy, reforming the education of priests, the calendar of feasts of the church, and many papal institutions.
Perhaps the most important act of his pontificate was the promulgation of his famous laws about missions in the two bulls, Ex quo singulari and Omnium solicitudinum. In these bulls he denounced the custom of accommodating Christian words and usages to express non-Christian ideas and practices of the native cultures, which had been extensively done by the Jesuits in their Indian and Chinese missions. An example of this is the statues of the ancestors - is honor paid to the ancestors to be considered the unacceptable 'ancestor worship' or something more like the Catholic veneration of the saints - and can a Catholic legitimately 'venerate' an ancestor known to not have been a Christian? The choice of a Chinese translation for the name of God had also been debated since the early 1600s.
The consequence of these bulls was that many of these converts left the church.
He was also responsible, along with Cardinal Passionel, for beginning the catalogue of the Vatican Library.

Name:Pope Benedict XV, Born: Giacomo Della Chiesa, Preceded by: St. Pius X (1903 - 1914)Succeeded by: Pius XI (1922 - 1939)Roman Catholic Pope #259
Dates:Born: November 21, 1854 (Italy)Died: January 22, 1922Pope: September 1, 1914 - January 22, 1922 (7 years)Joan of Arc Canonized: 1920
Biography:Benedict XV was pope during the period of World War I, an conflict which produced unheard of death and devastation in Europe and which fundamentally shattered many people's faith in modern science, rationality and modernity in general. Benedict himself was rendered largely inconsequential during the war - although he pursued neutrality even while he condemned atrocities, his peace proposals were generally rejected and when the final peace settlement was being negotiated, he was given no role at all.
In fact, his efforts to remain completely neutral resulted in both sides of the conflict regarding him as being complicit with the other. He had established a "missing persons" agency to help people displaced during the war become reunited with each other but he was forced to close it down because various government grew suspicious that it was being used for espionage.
Benedict was also active in the effort to unify all of Christianity under a single leadership (namely, the pope's). To that end, he established the Congregation for the Oriental Church and the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome in 1917 as part of the long-standing Catholic desire to bring the Eastern Orthodox churches under Roman control.

Benedict XV, (Originally Giacomo della Chiesa.) 1854–1922.
Pope (1914–1922) who sponsored World War I relief efforts and sought to mediate
Benedict XV, 1854–1922, pope (1914–22), an Italian (b. Genoa) named Giacomo della Chiesa; successor of Pius X. He was made archbishop of Bologna in 1907 and cardinal in 1914, two months before his election as pope. His policy in World War I was one of the strictest neutrality, and he had the respect of all belligerents. He originated several proposals for peace. Benedict was charitable toward war victims, and he founded the Vatican service for prisoners of war. During his pontificate France and England resumed diplomatic relations with the Holy See and he promulgated (1917) the Code of Canon Law (Codex iuris canonici). He was succeeded by Pius XI.


Pope Benedict XV
Benedict XV, né Giacomo della Chiesa (November 21, 1854-January 22, 1922), was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1914 to 1922; he succeeded Pope Saint Pius X.
He was born in Genoa, Italy, of a noble family. He acquired a doctorate of law in 1875, after which he studied for the priesthood and then the training school for the Vatican diplomatic service - most of his career was spent in the service of the Vatican.

Benedict XV - Supreme Pontiff (1914-1922)
Cardinal Mariano Rampolla was a friend and patron, employing him as a secretary on being posted to Madrid and in a similar post on being appointed Secretary of State. During these years he helped negotiate a dispute between Germany and Spain over the Caroline Islands as well as organising relief during a cholera epidemic. When Rampolla left his post with the election of Pius X, and was succeeded by Cardinal Merry del Val, Chiesa was retained in his post.
However, Chiesa's association with Rampolla, the architect of Leo XIII's relatively liberal foreign policy and Pius X's rival in the conclave of 1903, made him suspicious in the eyes of the new ultra-conservative regime. He was soon to be moved out of the diplomatic service and the centre of Church power in Rome, on 16 December 1907 becoming Archbishop of Bologna.
On 25 May 1914 Chiesa was appointed a cardinal and, in this capacity, on the outbreak of World War I, and the death of Pius X, he made a speech on the Church's position and duties, emphasising the need for neutrality and promoting peace and easing suffering. The Conclave opened at the end of August, and, on 3 September 1914, Chiesa was elected Pope, taking the name of Benedict XV.
His pontificate was dominated by the war and its turbulent aftermath. He organised significant humanitarian efforts (establishing a Vatican bureau, for instance, to help prisoners of war from all nations contact their families) and made many unsuccessful attempts to negotiate peace, including the well-known Papal Peace proposal of 1917, but each side saw him as biased in favour of the other and were unwilling to accept the terms he proposed. This resentment saw the Vatican was excluded from the peace negotiations on the war's end; despite this, he wrote an encyclical pleading for international reconciliation, Pacem Dei munus. In the post war period Benedict was involved in developing the Church administration to deal with the new international system that had emerged.
In internal Church affairs, Benedict calmed the excesses of the campaign against supposedly modernist scholars within the Church which had characterised the reign of St. Pius X. He also promulgated a new Code of Canon Law in 1917 and attempted to improve relations with the anticlerical Republican government of France by canonising the French national heroine Joan of Arc. In the mission territories of the Third World, he emphasised the necessity of training native priests to replace the European missionaries as soon as possible.
In his private spiritual life, Benedict was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the modern Popes was the most fervent in propagating the wearing of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, endorsing the claim that wearing it piously brings "the singular privilege of protection after death" from eternal damnation, and giving an indulgence for every time it is kissed.
Benedict XV died of pneumonia at the age of 67 in 1922. Although one of the less remembered of the Popes of the twentieth century, he deserves commendation for his humane approach in the world of 1914-18, which starkly contrasts with that of the other great monarchs and leaders of the time.