Pope Benedict XII was the 19th pope and served from 1334 to 1342 for more than seven years. He was French and was a Pope at Avignon, which was popes who ruled outside of Rome. This article will help readers find out more about his life as a pope and the time before the papacy.
Born Jacques Fornier, historians know little about the man who would become Pope Benedict XII. He was born sometime in the 1280s, though records do not list an official date of birth. Historians believe he was born in a southwestern region of France called Cante. Feeling called to work for the Church, Jacques became a monk with the Order of Cistercians and later attended the University of Paris. Before becoming pope, he was both the Abbot at Fontfroide Abbey and the Bishop of Parmiers.
After Pope John XII passed away, a conclave met to discuss the next pope. More than half of those in attendance were in favor of a cardinal who also served as the Bishop of Porto. Jean-Raymond de Comminges refused to promise them that he would keep the papacy in Avignon. Fearing that he would move back to Rome, the conclave spent more than a week going over other names before finally settling on Jacques.
As pope, Benedict XII wanted to establish his bulls and decrees without taking into consideration the work of previous popes. He believed that monks should live in poverty and not have the benefits that they had at the time. The pope also tried to reach a compromise between the Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV and the Roman See. He also made attempts to separate himself from France and return the papacy to Italy. Following his death in 1342, Pope Benedict XII was interred in Avignon Cathedral in a tomb that remains there today.
Quick Facts About Pope Benedict XII
- He was born in Saverdun, which was a Kingdom of France circa 1280. Some historians believe he was born as late as 1285.
- The future pope’s birth name was Jacques Fornier.
- He died on April 25, 1342.
- Jacques was around the age of 57 when he died in Avignon.
- His papacy began on December 30, 1334.
- The pope’s papacy ended upon his death in 1342.
- Clement VI became the next pope and kept the papacy in Avignon.
Interesting Facts About Pope Benedict XII
- One of the papal bulls he released stated that men should not expect to receive titles or the funds attached to those titles. This bull changed how became priests and other religious leaders as well as how they would get paid for those positions.
- Though he was a Pope of Avignon and lived in France, Pope Benedict XII had a connection to Rome. He was one of the only popes from this period to assist with the reformation in Rome. The pope sent funds that Church members used to rebuild churches and other buildings.
- Pope Benedict XII was the third of seven popes known as the Pope of Avignon. It wasn’t until Pope Gregory XI began his papacy in 1370 that the throne would move back to Rome.
- The papacy of Pope Benedict XII lasted for 2,683 days or seven years and 126 days. This makes him one of the longest-reigning Popes of Avignon.
- Some of the records written during and after his papacy claim that he was a hard man and a foe of the Church. Historians today believe this was because he wanted to return the papacy to Rome in direct opposition to other religious leaders at the time.