Benedict XI, Pope, Bl.

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Pontificate: Oct. 22, 1303 to July 7, 1304; b. Niccolo Boccasini, at Treviso, Italy, 1240; d. Perugia. The son of a notary, he entered the dominicans in 1254 and studied at Venice and Milan, becoming lector for his fellow religious in 1268. He was distinguished both as a scholar, having written commentaries on the Psalms, Job, Matthew, and Revelations, and as a religious superior. After serving as subprior, prior, and provincial of Lombardy (128296), he was elected master general of the order in May 1296. He kept the Dominicans loyal to Pope boni face viii in the crisis of 1297; served on Boniface's peace embassy to England and France; and as cardinal (1300), acted as legate to Hungary in the mission in favor of Caroberf of anjou. He was one of two faithful cardinals with Boniface VIII at Anagni. The major reason for his first-ballot election as pope was the universal esteem for his sanctity and prudential administrative talents. Benedict proved to be a peace-seeking pontiff. Anxious to end the discord of Boniface's pontificate without sacrificing principle, he modified clericis laicos and reconciled philip iv of france to the papacy. Benedict's acts should be interpreted as pastoral not appeasive. Furthermore, he did not absolve nogaret and Sciarra colonna, the principal perpetrators of Anagni. While processing their case, Benedict died suddenly at Perugia, where his cult developed immediately. He was beatified by Clement XII, April 24, 1736.

Feast: July 7.

Bibliography: c. a. grandjean, ed., Le Registre de Benôit XI (Paris 1905). b. guido, Rerum italicarum scriptores, 5001500 (Milan 174871) 3.1:672673. l. jadin, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 8:106116. g. beltrame, "La patria del b. Benedetto XI papa (12401304)," Padova 26 (1980) 1117. j. h. denton, "Complaints to the Apostolic See in an Early Fourteenth-Century Memorandum from England," Archivum Historiae Pontificiae 20(1982) 389400. g. kastner, Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie (Rome 1974). j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 210.

[e. j. smyth]