Pietro Francesco Orsini, Papa Benedictus XIII

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Pietro Francesco Vincenzo Maria Orsini

Birthdate: (81)
Birthplace: Gravina di Puglia, Puglia, Italy
Death: February 21, 1730 (81)
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Immediate Family:

Son of Ferrante III Orsini, XI. duca di Gravina and Giovanna Frangipani della Tolfa
Brother of Dorotea Orsini; Domenico Orsini, XIII. duca di Gravina and Aurelia Orsini

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About Pietro Francesco Orsini, Papa Benedictus XIII


Pope Benedict XIII (2 February 1650 – 21 February 1730), born Pietro Francesco Orsini, later Friar Vincenzo Maria Orsini, O.P., was pope from 1724 until his death.


He was born in Gravina in Puglia to Ferdinando III Orsini, duke of Gravina, and Giovanna Frangipani della Tolfa, from Toritto. He was a member of the Orsini of Rome, the third and last member of that family to become Pope. He entered the Dominican Order and received the name Vincenzo Maria. He was named Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto on 22 February 1672 (allegedly, against his will); later he was bishop of Manfredonia, bishop of Cesena and then archbishop of Benevento. He remained a close friend of a local mystic Serafina di dio.

At first, he called himself Benedict XIV, but afterwards altered the title to Benedict XIII (the previous Benedict XIII having been considered an antipope).

He endeavoured to put a stop to the decadent lifestyles of the Italian priesthood and of the cardinalate. He also abolished the lottery in Rome. A man fond above all of asceticism and religious celebrations, according to Cardinal Lambertini (later Pope Benedict XIV) he "did not have any idea about how to rule". The government was effectively held in his lieu by Cardinal Niccolò Coscia, who had been Benedict's secretary when he was archbishop of Benevento, and who committed a long series of financial abuses at his own advantage, causing the ruin of the Papal treasure. According to Montesquieu, "All the money of Rome go to Benevento... as the Beneventani direct [Benedict's] weakness".

In foreign politics, he struggled with John V of Portugal and the Jansenists.

Pope Benedict XIII repealed the world wide smoking ban set by Pope Urban VIII.

Benedict XIII, whose orders were descended from Scipione Rebiba, personally consecrated at least 139 bishops for various important European sees, including German, French, English and New World bishops. These bishops in turn consecrated bishops almost exclusively for their respective countries causing other episcopal lineages to die. As a result, more than 90% of present-day bishops trace their episcopal lineage through him to Cardinal Rebiba.

In 1727 he inaugurated the famous Spanish Steps and founded the University of Camerino.

Benedict died in 1730 and was buried in a tomb in Santa Maria sopra Minerva completed by Pietro Bracci and others. Coscia fled from the city in the circumstance, being excommunicated under the new Pope Clement XII. He was later restored and took part in the conclaves of 1730 and 1740.

The comment to Benedict's death by Pasquino, the popular satirist of Rome, was:

"This tomb encloses 

the bones of a little friar:

more than a saint's lover

a protector of brigands"

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Pietro Francesco Orsini, Papa Benedictus XIII's Timeline

February 2, 1649
Gravina di Puglia, Puglia, Italy
February 21, 1730
Age 81
Rome, Lazio, Italy