Benedict Xi., Pope

, was a native of Trevigi, belonging to the state of Venice, and the son of a shepherd, or, as some say, of a notary. His name was Nicholas Bocasini. For some time he earned a livelihood by teaching children at Venice, but becoming afterwards a Dominican, he applied himself diligently to his studies, and acquired such superiority among his order, that in 1298 he was appointed general; and, by Boniface VIII. created cardinal bishop of Sabina, from which he was soon after translated to that of Ostia. He discharged likewise several embassies with great reputation, and having returned from Hungary when Boniface was taken and imprisoned in | his own palace at Anagni, he was one of the two cardinals who remained with him, when all the others fled. On the death of that pope, in 1303, our cardinal bishop was chosen to succeed him, and took the name of Benedict, the Christian name of his predecessor, in honour of him who had been the cause of his advancement from a low station. Among his first measures he granted absolution to the king of France, and annulled the decrees of Boniface against him, which restored peace to that country, and this he farther promoted by reinstating the Colonna family in all their honours and possessions. He made it his study to quiet the disturbances that his predecessor had raised, not only in France, but in most other kingdoms, and to regain by conciliatory measures those whom the haughty and imperious behaviour of his predecessor had alienated from the apostolic see; but his pontificate was short. He died the year following his election, July 6, 1304, not without suspicion of poison, administered, as some think, by the relations of Boniface? in revenge for his having received that pope’s enemies into favour, but others impute this crime to the Florentines, whose city he had laid under an interdict, when it was distracted by two barbarous factions, called the Neri and the Bianchi. The writers of Benedict’s time concur in reporting that he was a man exemplary in every respect, inclined to peace and conciliation, and one who had no desire to enrich his family. One trait of his character seems to support this last instance of forbearance. His mother approaching him in a very rich dress to congratulate him on his promotion, he affected to consider her as an impostor, and said: “My mother is not a princess, but a poor woman;” but next day, when she returned in her ordinary dress, he embraced her with affection, and treated her with every mark of respect. He wrote comments on the gospel of St. Matthew, the book of Job, and the Revelations, besides several sermons, and letters to the king of France and other princes, concerning the reformation of abuses that had crept into the church in their respective kingdoms; but of his works, the only one printed is a comment on the fifth chapter of Matthew, and some letters in Rainald, Wadding, and Cherubini. 1

1 Bower’s Lives of the Popes. Dupin. Walch’a Lives of the Popes.
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