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Pope Pius VIII

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Papacy began 31 March 1829
Papacy ended 30 November 1830
Predecessor Leo XII
Successor Gregory XVI
Personal details
Birth name Francesco Saverio Castiglioni
Born November 20, 1761(1761-11-20)
Cingoli, Marche, Papal State
Died November 30, 1830 (aged 69)
Quirinal Palace, Rome
Other Popes named Pius

Pope Pius VIII (20 November 1761 – 30 November 1830), born Francesco Saverio Castiglioni, was Pope in 1829 and 1830.


He was born in Cingoli, Marche, the son of Count Ottavio Castiglioni and his wife Sanzia Ghislieri. He studied Canon law and, in 1800 became bishop of Montalto. After he refused to swear allegiance to Napoleon I of France (1804–14, 1815) he was taken to France, but following the defeat of France, he was, in 1816, made a Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Traspontina. He held various high offices thereafter, including that of Major Penitentiary.

"As a Cardinal, Castiglione had continued to live modestly, made no enemies, and although his own private life had always been irreproachable, he had shown no signs of censoriousness where others were concerned. He suffered from a very painful and distressing complaint, having perpetually suppurating sores on his neck and body, and was far too ill and feeble to do more than sign the documents presented to him by Giuseppe Cardinal Albani, who ruled the Papal States as autocratically as though he had himself worn the triple crown"[1].

As pope

Styles of
{{{papal name}}}
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

After the death of Pope Leo XII (1823–29), Cardinal Castiglioni was elected Pope in the papal conclave.

As Pope Pius VIII, he initiated some reforms in the States of the Church. On 24 May 1829 he issued an encyclical, Traditi humilitati. Perhaps indicating that the current debate on religious pluralism was also occurring in his own time he condemned the "foul contrivance of the sophists of this age" that would place Catholicism on par with any other religion.

Regarding Bible translations, he wrote in that encyclical:

We must also be wary of those who publish the Bible with new interpretations contrary to the Church's laws. They skillfully distort the meaning by their own interpretation. They print the Bibles in the vernacular and, absorbing an incredible expense, offer them free even to the uneducated. Furthermore, the Bibles are rarely without perverse little inserts to ensure that the reader imbibes their lethal poison instead of the saving water of salvation.

On 25 March 1830, in the brief Litteris altero, he condemned masonic secret societies and modernist biblical translations.

During his brief pontificate, the Catholic Emancipation occurred in the United Kingdom, and the July Revolution (1830) in France – after which he recognised Louis Philippe (1830–48) as the de facto king of France after the toppling of Charles X.

Pius VIII accepted the situation on mixed marriages between Protestants and Catholics in Germany, but opposed liberalising tendencies in Ireland and Poland.

Health, death and conspiracy theory

Pius VIII was in very poor health from his election until his death. Nevertheless there were rumours that he had been poisoned. Prince Don Agostino Chigi, a contemporary of the Pope's and one of the papal nobility associated with the papal court, recorded in his diary (2 December 1830):

"Nella sezione del cadavere del Pontefice che seguì ieri sera per quanto si dice, furono trovate le viscere sanissime e solo si è rinvenuta qualche debolezza nel polmone, altri dicono qualche sfiancamento nel cuore; resterebbe perciò a sapersi di qual male sia morto."
(Translation: "During the dissection of the Pope's body, which occurred yesterday evening, as far as they say, only very healthy internal organs (viscera) were found, except some weakness of the lungs, or, according to others, a tired heart; it is therefore impossible to know the cause of death.")

These few words have been interpreted by some partisans of a conspiracy theory as evidence that the Pope had indeed been poisoned. Camillo Cardinal di Pietro gave the funeral ovation for the late Pope before the cardinals entered the conclave.

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Montalto
1800 – 1816
Succeeded by
Pietro Paolo Mazzichi
Bishop of Cesena
1816 – 1821
Succeeded by
Antonio Maria Cadolini
Preceded by
Emmanuele Cardinal De Gregorio
Major Penitentiary of Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary
4 August 1821 – 31 March 1829
Succeeded by
Michele Cardinal di Pietro
Preceded by
1829 – 1830
Succeeded by
Gregory XVI
Popes of the Roman Catholic Church
PeterLinusAnacletusClement IEvaristusAlexander ISixtus ITelesphorusHyginusPius IAnicetusSoterEleuterusVictor IZephyrinusCallixtus IUrban IPontianAnterusFabianCorneliusLucius IStephen ISixtus IIDionysiusFelix IEutychianCaiusMarcellinusMarcellus IEusebiusMiltiadesSilvester IMarkJulius ILiberiusDamasus ISiriciusAnastasius IInnocent IZosimusBoniface ICelestine ISixtus IIILeo IHilariusSimpliciusFelix IIIGelasius IAnastasius IISymmachusHormisdasJohn IFelix IVBoniface IIJohn IIAgapetus ISilveriusVigiliusPelagius IJohn IIIBenedict IPelagius IIGregory ISabinianBoniface IIIBoniface IVAdeodatus IBoniface VHonorius ISeverinusJohn IVTheodore IMartin IEugene IVitalianAdeodatus IIDonusAgathoLeo IIBenedict IIJohn VCononSergius IJohn VIJohn VIISisinniusConstantineGregory IIGregory IIIZacharyStephen IIPaul IStephen IIIAdrian ILeo IIIStephen IVPaschal IEugene IIValentineGregory IVSergius IILeo IVBenedict IIINicholas IAdrian IIJohn VIIIMarinus IAdrian IIIStephen VFormosusBoniface VIStephen VIRomanusTheodore IIJohn IXBenedict IVLeo VSergius IIIAnastasius IIILandoJohn XLeo VIStephen VIIJohn XILeo VIIStephen VIIIMarinus IIAgapetus IIJohn XIILeo VIIIBenedict VJohn XIIIBenedict VIBenedict VIIJohn XIVJohn XVGregory VSilvester IIJohn XVIIJohn XVIIISergius IVBenedict VIIIJohn XIXBenedict IXSilvester IIIBenedict IXGregory VIClement IIBenedict IXDamasus IILeo IXVictor IIStephen IXNicholas IIAlexander IIGregory VIIVictor IIIUrban IIPaschal IIGelasius IICallixtus IIHonorius IIInnocent IICelestine IILucius IIEugene IIIAnastasius IVAdrian IVAlexander IIILucius IIIUrban IIIGregory VIIIClement IIICelestine IIIInnocent IIIHonorius IIIGregory IXCelestine IVInnocent IVAlexander IVUrban IVClement IVGregory XInnocent VAdrian VJohn XXINicholas IIIMartin IVHonorius IVNicholas IVCelestine VBoniface VIIIBenedict XIClement VJohn XXIIBenedict XIIClement VIInnocent VIUrban VGregory XIUrban VIBoniface IXInnocent VIIGregory XIIMartin VEugene IVNicholas VCallixtus IIIPius IIPaul IISixtus IVInnocent VIIIAlexander VIPius IIIJulius IILeo XAdrian VIClement VIIPaul IIIJulius IIIMarcellus IIPaul IVPius IVPius VGregory XIIISixtus VUrban VIIGregory XIVInnocent IXClement VIIILeo XIPaul VGregory XVUrban VIIIInnocent XAlexander VIIClement IXClement XInnocent XIAlexander VIIIInnocent XIIClement XIInnocent XIIIBenedict XIIIClement XIIBenedict XIVClement XIIIClement XIVPius VIPius VIILeo XIIPius VIIIGregory XVIPius IXLeo XIIIPius XBenedict XVPius XIPius XIIJohn XXIIIPaul VIJohn Paul IJohn Paul IIBenedict XVI

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