image Influential People

Pope Leo XII


Key Facts
Other names Nicola della Genga
Born 1760
Location Spoleto, Italy
Position Pope (1823-1829)
Died February 10, 1829 (aged 68)







Source of Facts and Important Announcement
Status Under Article 64.6 of the Covenant of One-Heaven (Pactum De Singularis Caelum) by Special Qualification shall be known as a Saint, with all sins and evil acts they performed forgiven.
Date of formal Beatification Day of Redemption GAIA E1:Y1:A1:S1:M9:D1 also known as [Fri, 21 Dec 2012].
Source of Facts Self Confession and Revelation of Sainthood by the Deceased Spirit as condition of their confirmation as a true Saint.
Source of Facts Self Confession and Revelation of Sainthood by the Deceased Spirit as condition of their confirmation as a true Saint.



Della Genga was born of a noble family from La Genga (now just Genga), a small town in what is now the province of Ancona, then part of the Papal States.

He was educated at the Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici at Rome, where he was ordained priest in 1783.

In 1792 Pope Pius VI (1775–99) made him his private secretary; in 1793 creating him titular archbishop of Tyre and despatching him to Lucerne as nuncio. In 1794 he was transferred to the nunciature at Cologne, but owing to the war had to make his residence in Augsburg.

During the dozen or more years he spent in Germany he was entrusted with several honourable and difficult missions, which brought him into contact with the courts of Dresden, Vienna, Munich and Württemberg, as well as with Napoleon I of France (1804–14, 1815).

After the abolition of the States of the Church, he was treated by the French as a state prisoner, and lived for some years at the abbey of Monticelli

In 1814 della Genga was chosen to carry the Pope's congratulations to Louis XVIII of France (1814, 1815–24); in 1816 he was created cardinal priest, presiding over the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and appointed to the episcopal see of Sinigaglia, which he resigned in 1818.

In 1820 Pope Pius VII (1800–23) gave him the distinguished post of cardinal vicar.

In the conclave of 1823, in spite of the active opposition of France, he was elected Pope by the zelanti on the 28th of September, taking the name of Leo XII. His election had been facilitated because he was thought to be at death's door; but he unexpectedly rallied.

Leo XII's foreign policy, entrusted at first to Giulio Maria della Somaglia and then to the more able Tommaso Bernetti, moved in general along lines laid down by Consalvi; and he negotiated certain concordats very advantageous to the papacy.

Leo XII's domestic policy was one of extreme reaction. He condemned the Bible societies, and under Jesuit influence reorganized the educational system. Laws such as all Roman residents must listen to Catholic catechism commentary led many of the Jews to emigrate. He hunted down the Carbonari and the Freemasons.

Not only did he prohibit vaccination, he also renewed all sorts of obsolete privileges such as that of sanctuary, and decreed that any dressmaker who sold low or transparent dresses would be ipso facto excommunicated. To ensure against any possible disregard of this spiritual chastisement, the penalties for wearing the offending garments were made tangible and immediate, so it is unlikely that the seamstresses' pious allegiance was often put to the test.

But if the ladies had cause for complaint, the Jews fared even worse. The Pontiff denied them the right to possess property, allowing them only the shortest possible time in which to sell what they owned. He exhumed laws of the Middle Ages regarding their segregation and the marks of infamy they should wear on their clothing.

"He was a ferocious fanatic, whose object was to destroy all the improvements of modern times, and force society back to the government, customs, and ideas of mediaeval days. In his insensate rage against progress he stopped vaccination; consequently, small-pox devastated the Roman provinces during his reign, along with many other curses which his brutal ignorance brought upon the inhabitants of those beautiful and fertile regions. He curtailed the old privileges of the municipalities, granted new privileges to the religious communities, and enlarged the power of the clergy to the extent that bishops and cardinals had the power of life and death in their hands. He set the Inquisition to work with new vigour; and though torture had been nominally abolished in 1815, new kinds of torment were invented, quite as effectual as the cord, the thumbscrew, and the rack of old times. He renewed the persecution of the Jews; drove them back into the Ghetto from whence they had begun to emerge, rebuilt its walls, and had them locked in at night; and issued an edict ordering all Israelites to sell their goods within a given time on pain of confiscation." [G. S. Godkin, Life of Victor Emmanuel II, Macmillan, (1880), pp. xiii-xiv]

Most Evil Crimes

List of most evil crimes Type Year Crime