Sunday, September 06, 2009

Pius VI and Viterbo

Print made by Pietro Bonato 1765/6-1820/7
After Luigi Scotti (Active c 1800)
Life of Pope Pius VI / S.S.Pio VI. baccia la mano dell'incorotto corpo di S.Rosa in Viterbo/Santa Rosa of Viterbo Has Her Uncorrupted Hand Kissed by Pope Pius VI c1800
386mm x 468mm
The British Museum, London

Viterbo has seen many Popes in its long history.

Sometimes they resided more in Viterbo than in Rome

A number of Popes are even buried in Viterbo and conclaves to elect new Popes were held in the city. It is truly a Papal city.

Pope Pius VI (1717-1799) reigned during a period of reform, instigated by Joseph II, which restricted papal power.

He failed to save his territory from capture by Napoleon, and died a prisoner of the French army.

Pope Pius VI was escorted out of Rome on 20 February 1798 and began his exile.

This print shows Pope Pius VI kneeling at tomb of St. Rosa, surrounded by nuns of Viterbo abbey. Santa Maria Rosa is the patron saint of Viterbo.

The legend of Santa Rosa (1235-1252) is that she helped to eradicate those few who supported the emperors instead of the Popes, around 1250.

She wished to enter the monastery of St. Mary of the Roses, but was refused because of her poverty. Like St Gemma Galgani, her body and memory are preserved by the order which refused her admittance while still alive.