Page 4, 7th February 1941

7th February 1941
Page 4
Page 4, 7th February 1941 — Papal Elections

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Locations: Venice, Paris, Rome


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Papal Elections

FEBRUARY 6 is the 19th anniver sary of the election of Pope Pius XI. The Cardinals had entered the conclave on the evening of Candlemas day. The first scrutiny took place on the following morning and the election took place at the fourteenth.

Ninety years earlier, another and less tranquil conclave, that of Gregory XVI, had ended on the feast of Candlemas. The future Leo XIII, then a student in Rome, wrote a vivid account of this election in a letter to his father, Count Pecci at Carpineto, Pius VIII, called the pape fantdme. because his pontificate, the shortest in recent times, had lasted only twenty months, died towards the end of 1830. The period sede vacante which followed lasted sixty-four days and it was none too short. For the spirit of Revolution was abroad.

At the final scrutiny Cardinal Capellari obtained the necessary two-thirds majority, receiving 30 votes while Paces, author of the celebrated ecclesiastical

memoirs, received 14. The aged Cardinal Albani, who had himself opposed the successful candidate to the last, had the duty of announcing the gaudium magnum from the balcony of the Quirinal, which he did in a tremulous voice. Albani, a member of a great Roman family, now extinct, had himself been deprived of the prospect of election in a most singular manner at the conclave which followed the death of Leo XII. For Chateaubriand, then French ambassador in Rome, had, on his own responsibility and without awaiting instructions from Paris, instructed Cardinal de Clermont-Tonnerre to use the veto claimed by the French Government against Albani in the conclave.

POR some centuries past papal elec.

tions have been held in Rome, usually at the Quirinal. The only conclave held out of Rome in recent times was that of Pius VII, which took place in the island church of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. After 1870 it became necessary to hold conclaves in the Vatican.

On the death of Pius IX, fears were entertained lest the Italian Government would interfere with the liberty of the conclave. No similar fears were entertamed when Leo XIII died twenty-five years later. The story of the conclave of 1903 is known in all its details from the article, Derniers lours de Leon XIII et le Conclave, which appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes for March 15, 1904 over the signature, Un Timoin, All knew that beneath this pseudonym was concealed the personality of the learned and witty academician. Cardinal Mathieu. The Cardinal had betrayed no secret in writing this article. For the legislation. then in vigour, obliged him to secrecy only so long as the conclave lasted, and the author had even been furnished with materials by the Secretariat of State.

Had Mathieu's opuscute been allowed to slumber on the shelves of libraries among the back numbers of the Revue des Deux Monde, nothing further would have happened. But it was reprinted as a brochure and widely circulated in Rome. Some readers expressed themselves disedificd by the vein of persiflage which kept cropping up and two Italian Cardinals, the then Dean of the Sacred College and another, who was later to occupy the same position, were pained at what they regarded as unjust reflections upon themselves.

THE upshot was that Pius X by a mohe proprio extended beyond the duration of the conclave the obligation to secrecy imposed on the Cardinals. It does not, however, seem clear that a Cardinal is debarred from making posthumous disclosures relating to the course of a conclave.

Mgr. Fontenelle in his life of the late Pope mentions that among the papers of a Cardinal lately deceased were found notes relating to the allocation of the votes at the last conclave but one, showing how the candidature of Cardinal Ratti, which received only 5 or 6 votes on the second day became increasingly popular on the third, receiving at the four scrutinies, respectively, 11, 14, 21 and 27 votes and at the two scrutinies on the morning of the fourth day 30 and 42. The latter figure ensured a valid election.

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