Pope Innocent XIII was the the 244th person to lead the Church as its pope and the 13th among that group of influential people to choose “Innocent” as his name. This article seeks to distinguish him from his many, many, many predecessors and successors by highlighting any major achievements as pope and in his time spent serving the highest position within the Catholic Church.
Life Before the Papacy.
Michaelangelo dei Conti was born as the son of Duke Carlo II of Poli and Isabella d’monti. Similarly to Popes Innocent III, Gregory IX and Alexander IV, he was born into the landed gentry.
Education and Early Offices.
Conti began his studies in Ancona, then transitioned to learning from Rome’s Jesuits in the Collegio Romano. He would pursue the study of canon law and civil law at La Sapienza University, of which he earned doctorates in and moved to join the priesthood. His positions included the following titles and offices.
- 1691-Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura.
- 1691-Governor of Ascoli.
- 1692 through 1693-Governor of Campagna and Marittima.
- 1693 through 1695-Governor of Viterbo.
- June 13th, 1695. Pope Innocent XII appoints him Titular Archbishop of Tarso.
Conti also served as nuncio to Switzerland and Portugal.
Conti would become Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quirico e Giulitta by Pope clement XI‘s decision on June 7th, 1706. This came about as a means of replacing Gabriele Filippucci, who had declined becoming a cardinal. Conti would not receive his church until February 23rd of 1711. He would later move to Osimo to serve as archbishop in 1709, then again to Viterbo e Toscanella in 1712. After serving as Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals between 1716 and 1717, he resigned from his diocese in 1719 due to illness.
Papal Acts and Legacy.
While his papacy was a relatively well-run one, it was also one with little of note or achievement; Innocent XII’s papacy lasted only 34 months.
- He named three cardinals, one of whom, Bernardo Maria, was his brother.
- He beatified three people: John of Nepomuk, Dalmazio Moner and Andrea dei Conti; understandably, the last of this trio was also a 12th Century ancestor of Innocent XIII.
- He lent aid to the Venetians and Maltese in their efforts against the Turks.
- due to the ongoing debate about preaching using “foreign” language, he stopped sending missionaries to China. He also stopped the Jesuits from evangelizing to the Chinese people.
Quick Facts about Pope Innocent XIII.
- He was born in the Papal States, specifically Poli, Lazio; on May 13th, 1655.
- His full name prior to becoming pope was Michelangelo dei Conti.
- He died on March 7th, 1724.
- The circumstances surrounding his death involved a hernia that he told no one of but his personal valet. After the hernia burst open and caused fever and inflammation to surge through his body, he asked for the last rites.
- His papacy began on May 8, 1721
- His papacy ended on the day of his death.
- His papal successor Benedict XIII.
Five Interesting Facts About Pope Innocent XIII.
- He was the most recent pope to take the name “Innocent.”
- In 2005, the citizens of Poli, his hometown, asked the church to consider beatifying him.
- The design of his pontifical crest incorporated the Conti family crest.
- It was during his time as nuncio to the Kingdom of Portugal that he witnessed experiments with aerostats, an early form of aircraft that incorporated balloons.
- He took the name Innocent in honor of Innocent III, likely due to their similar backgrounds.