Benedict XIII was the 245th leader of the Catholic Church and the 13th among that lot to choose the papal name of Benedict. This article seeks to distinguish him from his many predecessors and successors by focusing on specifics and details of his life and papacy.

Life Before the Papacy.

Pietro Francesco Orsini was born in the city of Gravina in Puglia. He was the firstborn son, of six, to hail from the union of Giovanna Frangipani della Tolfa and Duke Ferdinando III Orsini. Upon reaching age 18, he gave up his inheritance and changed his name in order to enter the Dominican Order. “Vincenzo” Orsini joined the priesthood in February of 1671.

Thanks to the political and financial clout of his family, Pope Clement X decided to appoint Vincenzo the Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto roughly one year after he become a priest. He taught philosophy at Brescia, served as bishop of Mandredonia and Cesena, then became the archbishop of Benevento. After the a pair of earthquakes jostled the area in 1688 and 1702, he decided to organize charities to assist victims of the tremors.

Papal Legacy.

Pope Benedict XIII was a man more concerned with good works and spirituality than politics and statesmanship.

  • He dissolved the national lottery because he believed it was nothing more than a way to make profit.
  • He opened several hospitals yet had no idea how to handle their management, staffing or upkeep.
  • He inaugurated the Spanish Steps that sloped between the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinità dei Monti.
  • He founded the University of Camerino.
  • He settled an argument regarding the authenticity of St. Augustine’s bones, deigning them to be legitimate.
  • Most of the politics of Benedict XIII’s position were managed by Cardinal Niccolò Coscia. Cardinal Coscia did not serve his duty in the most benign of lights and did much damage to the Papal treasury while keeping Benedict XIII as little more than a puppet.

Quick Facts About Benedict XIII.

  • He was born on February 2nd, 1649 within the Kingdom of Naples.
  • While his given name was Pietro Francesco Orsini, he began to go by the name Vincenzo Maria Orsini upon entering the Dominican Order.
  • He died on February 21st, 1730.
  • The circumstances surrounding his death are the result of officiating over the funeral of Cardinal Marco Antonio Ansidei. Benedict developed a catarrh, a major surge of mucus and white blood cells around the nose and throat that arose from inflammation of his mucous membranes. The ailment was so severe that he was unable to properly breathe. When an autopsy was performed upon his corpse, it was discovered that he had lived his entire life with an over-sized heart-this may have been a factor in his declining health.
  • His papacy began May 29th, 1724.
  • His papacy ended with his life.
  • His papal successor was Clement XII.

Five Interesting Facts About Benedict XIII.

  • Prior to assuming the papacy, there was another Benedict XIII, an Aragonese noble, who was later deemed to be an antipope with Pietro’s donning of the papal crown.
  • He was the third and final member of clan Orsini to become pope.
  • He was a close friend to Serafina di Dio, a mystic.
  • Its believed by some that his promotion to Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto was made against Orsini’s wishes. Despite this, Orsini was not one to go against the Pope’s decisions.
  • After the work to canonize him concluded in 2017, he retained status as “Servant of God.”