- Gianangelo Braschi
Born to an impoverished Italian noble family. Educated by Jesuits. Received his law degree at age 17 at Ferrara, Italy. Pope Benedict XIV offered him a position, but Gianangelo was betrothed. However, before the marriage he decided on the priesthood, and his fiancee became a nun. Papal diplomat to Naples, Italy. Papal secretary and canon in 1755. Papal treasurer in 1766. Created cardinal in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV. Abbot at Subiaco, Italy. Pope in 1775 despite the efforts of the rulers of Spain, Portugal and France who opposed his presumed support of the Jesuits. Celebrated the 19th Jubilee in 1775.
He released Jesuits who had been imprisoned by Pope Clement XIV but feared to give them great support; when he seemed inclined to permit the Society to continue in Russia, the Bourbons stormed at him, and he was forced to break them up there – on paper. Catherine of Russia gave them her support, and Pius approved of their continued work. Pius was surrounded by attempts to limit the power and influence of the papacy. Emperor Joseph II worked to limit papal power, suppressed monasteries, and changed church regulations to put them more under state control. Pius travelled to Vienna, Austria to talk to Joseph, but in vain. Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Bishop Ricci of Pistoia held a synod in 1786 which passed decrees which Pius was forced to condemn in 1794. The prince-bishops of Mayence, Treves, and Cologne issued a Febronian manifesto known as the Punctuation of Ems of 1786 which claimed that the pope was not superior to all bishops, and that Catholic kings should reduce the papal power. There was confiscation of Church property, and suppression of papal taxes and religious orders. The Constituent Assembly tried to force France into schism with the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. The Church in France was driven underground during the persecutions of the Jacobins. Pius suffered this with diginity, patience and prayer, though he protested against the suppression of religious orders. Napoleon forced Pius to accept the harsh Treaty of Tolentino in 1797, but the Directory soon took over Rome, had the aged Pope arrested and sent to France. Aged 82 and poorly treated by his captors, he died in exile. His last words: Lord forgive them.
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- New Catholic Dictionary
- “Pope Pius VI“. Saints.SQPN.com. 23 August 2013. Web. 22 July 2014. <>