The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Clement XI (1700-1721)
Consistory of June 7, 1706 (III)
Celebrated in Rome


(22) 1. CONTI, Michelangelo (1655-1724)

Birth. May 13, 1655, Poli, diocese of Palestrina. Second child of Carlo IIConti, duke of Poli, and d'Isabella Monti. Descended of the family dei Conti di Segni that had given the Church Popes Innocent III, Gregory IX and Alexander IV. Grand-nephew of Cardinal Carlo Conti (1604). Nephew of Cardinal Giannicolò Conti (1664). Brother of Cardinal Bernardo Maria Conti, O.S.B.Cas. (1721). Grand-uncle of Cardinal Bartolomeo Ruspoli (1730). on his mother's side. Other cardinals of the family were Giovanni dei conti di Segni (1200); Ottaviano dei conti di Segni (1205); Lucido Conti (1411) (pseudocardinal); Giovanni Conti (1483); and Francesco Conti (1517). He is also listed as Michael Angelus de Comitibus; and his first name as Michel' Angelo.

Education. Initial studies at the episcopal residence of Ancona; then with the Jesuits in Rome at Collegio Romano; and later at La Sapienza University, Rome (doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law).

Sacred orders. Ordained after he finished his studies.

Early life. Privy chamberlain of Pope Alexander VIII. Internuncio to Venice to present Doge Francesco Morosini lo stocco e l'elmo, the dagger and the helmet, blessed by the pope, 1690. Referendary of the Supreme Tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and Grace, August 14, 1691. Governor of Ascoli, August 17, 1691 until December 1692. Commissary general contra bannitos in the Papal States, August 18, 1691. Governor of the province of Campagna e Marittima (Frosinone), December 6, 1692 until May 1693. Domestic prelate in 1693. Governor of Viterbo (Patrimonio), May 6, 1693 until June 1695. Abbot commendatario of Mentorella; he kept the commendam even after having been elected to the papacy.

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Tarso, June 13, 1695. Consecrated, June 16, 1695, Gesù church, Rome, by Cardinal Galeazzo Marescotti, assisted by Prospero Bottini, titular archbishop of Mira, and by Sperello Sperelli, bishop of Terni. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, June 28, 1695. Nuncio in Switzerland, July 1, 1695. Nuncio in Portugal, March 24, 1698.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of June 7, 1706, in replacement of Cardinal Gabriele Filippucci, who declined the cardinalate in the consistory of May 17, 1706. Received the red hat and the title of Ss. Quirico e Giulitta, February 23, 1711. Transferred to the see of Osimo, with personal title of archbishop, January 28, 1709. Transferred to the see of Viterbo e Toscanella, August 1, 1712. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, January 13, 1716 until January 4, 1717. Resigned the government of the diocese because of illness, March 14, 1719. Prefect of the Congregation dei Confini. Participated in the conclave of 1721 and was elected pope.

Papacy. Elected pope, May 8, 1721. Took the name Innocent XIII in memory of Pope Innocent III. Crowned May 18, 1721, by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili, protodiacono of S. Maria in Via Lata. He created three cardinals in two consistories.

Death. March 7, 1724, Rome. Exposed and buried, on March 12, 1724, in the patriarchal Vatican basilica, Rome. His original sepulchre, a monument of stucco, was in the right nave of the basilica. On July 11, 1836, to open space to the cenotaph of Pope Leo XII, his remains were buried in the ground of the chapel of S. Maria della Febbre, in the grotto of the basilica. Later, they were placed in an ancient and simple sarcophagus in the grotto, with the inscription INNOCENTIUS XIII P. M. His praecordia are in the church of Ss. Vincenzo e Anastasio, Rome; and his heart was transferred to the shrine of the Mentorella, in monte Guadagnolo, and placed in a pilaster in the sanctuary with the inscription COR INNOCENTII XIII DE COMITIBUS.

Bibliography. Benzoni, Gino. "Innocenzo XIII." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, III, 420-429; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. 9 vols. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1794, VIII, 107-108; Di Sivo, Michele. "Innocenzo XIII, papa." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 625-627; Fink, Urban. Die Luzerner Nuntiatur 1586-1873 : Zur Behördengeschichte und Quellenkunde der päpstlichen Diplomatie in der Schweiz. Luzern ; Stuttgart : Rex Verlag, 1997. (Collectanea Archivi Vaticani ; Bd. 40) (Luzerner Historische Veröffentlichungen ; Bd. 32); Karttunen, Liisi. Les nonciatures apostoliques permanentes de 1650 à 1800. Genève : E. Chaulmontet, 1912, p. 240; Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 293; Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 386-387, no. 245; Notizie per l'anno 1721. Rome : Nella Stamperia di Gio: Francesco Chracas, presso S. Marco al Corso, 1721, p. 116-117, no. 56; Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 219; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen V (1667-1730). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1952, pp. 26, 33-34, 51, and 370; Weber, Christoph. Legati e governatori dello Stato Pontificio : 1550-1809. Roma : Ministero per i beni culturali e ambientali, Ufficio centrale per i beni archivistici, 1994. (Pubblicazioni degli archivi di Stato. Sussidi; 7) pp. 125, 183, 433 and 593.

Links. Biography by Michael Ott, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography by Gino Benzoni, in Italian, Enciclopedia dei papi, Treccani; and his episcopal lineage by Charles Bransom, in English, Apostolic Succession & Episcopal Lineages in the Roman Catholic Church; his sarcophagus, grotto of the Vatican basilica, Wikipedia; another view of the sarcophagus; and pilaster that contains his heart, shrine of the Mentorella, in monte Guadagnolo.

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