Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Quiet Coronation

The Conclave of 1914 took place in the initial months of the First World War.

Cardinals from the various combatant countries assembled in conclave to elect a new Pope as successor to Pope Pius X.

The successor, Cardinal Della Chiesa, Archbishop of Bologna, (Pope Benedict XV) had only been a cardinal for three months.

The accounts of the conclave make it clear that he was the front runner from the start, notwithstanding that for the outside world (and for many of the cardinals), he was a complete unknown.

Benedict XV declined a grand coronation in St Peter`s Basilica. The coronation took place in a reduced ceremony in the Sistine Chapel.

He was prompted by the fact that the First World War had started and already people in Europe especially Belgium were suffering greatly.

Even this gesture was twisted by those involved in the conflict.

Some claimed that he was following the precedent of Pope Leo XIII in 1878. His coronation ceremony was curtailed due to the fact that the Holy See was still precarious after the Unification of Italy and capture of Rome in 1870. Leo XIII had intended an implied protest against the Roman Government.