Nicola Boccasini (Benedict XI) elected Pope

Pope Blessed Benedict XI (1240 – July 7, 1304), born Nicola Boccasini, was Pope from 1303 to 1304.

Born in Treviso, he succeeded Pope Boniface VIII (1294–1303), but was unable to carry out his policies. Benedict XI was a Dominican and when he was made Master of the Order in 1296, he issued ordinances forbidding public questioning of the legitimacy of Boniface VIII's election on the part of any Dominican. At the time of the seizing of Pope Boniface VIII at Anagni, Boccasini was one of only two cardinals to defend the papal party in the Lateran Palace itself. However, upon being elected Pope, he released Philip IV of France (1285–1314) from the excommunication that had been laid upon him by Boniface VIII, and practically ignored the bull Unam sanctam. Nevertheless, on June 7, 1304, he excommunicated Philip IV's implacable minister, Guillaume de Nogaret, and all the Italians who had played a part in the seizure of Boniface VIII at Anagni.
After a brief pontificate of eight months, Benedict XI died suddenly at Perugia. As original report had it, suspicion would fall primarily on Nogaret and that his sudden death was caused by poisoning through the agency of Nogaret. However, there is no direct evidence to support Nogaret poisoned the pope. Benedict XI's successor, Pope Clement V (1305–14), removed the papal seat from Rome to Avignon, inaugurating the period sometimes known as the Babylonian Captivity (1309–77). He and the French popes who succeeded him were completely under the influence of the kings of France.
Benedict XI was the author of a volume of sermons and commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, on the Psalms, the Book of Job, and John's Apocalypse.
(Note on numbering: Pope Benedict X is now considered an antipope. At the time, however, this status was not recognized and so the man the Roman Catholic Church officially considers the tenth true Pope Benedict took the official number XI, rather than X. This has advanced the numbering of all subsequent Popes Benedict by one. Popes Benedict XI-XVI are, from an official point of view, the tenth through fifteenth popes by that name.)

Born at Treviso, Italy, 1240; died at Perugia, 7 July, 1304. He entered the Dominican Order at the age of fourteen. After fourteen years of study, he became lector of theology, which office he filled for several years. In 1296 he was elected Master General of the Order. As at this time hostility to Boniface VIII was becoming more pronounced, the new general issued an ordinance forbidding his subjects to favour in any way the opponents of the reigning pontiff; he also enjoined on them to defend in their sermons, when opportune, the legitimacy of the election of Boniface. This loyalty of Boccasini, which remained unshaken to the end, was recognized by Boniface, who showed him many marks of favour and confidence. Thus with the two cardinal-legates, the Dominican General formed the important embassy, the purpose of which was the concluding of an armistice between Edward I of England and Philip IV of France, then at war with each other. In the year 1298 Boccasini was elevated to the cardinalate; he was afterwards appointed Bishop of Ostia and Dean of the Sacred College. As at that time Hungary was rent by civil war, the cardinal-bishop was sent thither by the Holy See as legate a latere to labour for the restoration of peace. At the time of the return of the legate to Rome, the famous contest of Boniface VIII with Philip the Fair had reached its height. When, in 1303, the enemies of the pope had made themselves masters of the sacred palace, of all the cardinals and prelates only the two Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Sabina remained at the side of the venerable Pontiff to defend him from the violence of William of Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna.

A month after this scene of violence, Boniface having died, Boccasini was unanimously elected Pope, 22 October, taking the name of Benedict XI. The principal event of his pontificate was the restoration of peace with the French court. Immediately after his election Philip sent three ambassadors to the pope bearing the royal letter of congratulation. The king, while professing his obedience and devotion, recommended to the benevolence of the pope the Kingdom and Church of France. Benedict, judging a policy of indulgence to be necessary for the restoration of peace with the French court, absolved Philip and his subjects from the censures they had incurred and restored the king and kingdom to the rights and privileges of which they had been deprived by Boniface. The Colonna cardinals were also absolved from their censures, but not reinstated in their former dignities. This policy of leniency Benedict carried out without compromising the dignity of the Holy See or the memory of Boniface VIII. Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna and those implicated in the outrage of Anagni were declared excommunicated and summoned to appear before the pontifical tribunal. After a brief pontificate of eight months, Benedict died suddenly at Perugia. It was suspected, not altogether without reason, that his sudden death was caused by poisoning through the agency of William of Nogaret. Benedict XI was beatified in the year 1773. His feast is celebrated at Rome and throughout the Dominican Order on the 7th of July. He is the author of a volume of sermons and commentaries on a part of the Gospel of St. Matthew, on the Psalms, the Book of Job, and the Apocalypse.

Benedict XI, given name Niccolo Boccasini, Roman Catholic Pope from 1303 to 1304, the son of a notary, was born in 1240 at Treviso. Entering the Dominican order in 1254, he became lector, prior of the convent, provincial of his order in Lombardy, and in 1296 its general. In 1298 he was created cardinal priest of Santa Sabina, and in 1300 cardinal bishop of Ostia and Velletri. In 1302 he was papal legate in Hungary. On the 22nd of October 1303 he was unanimously elected pope. He did much to conciliate the enemies made by his predecessor Boniface VIII, notably France, the Colonnas and King Frederick II of Sicily; nevertheless on the 7th of June 1304 he excommunicated William of Nogaret and all the Italians who had captured Boniface in Anagni. Benedict died at Perugia on the 7th of July 1304; if he was really poisoned, as report had it, suspicion would fall primarily on Nogaret. His successor Pope Clement V transferred the papal residence to Avignon. Among Benedict's works are commentaries on part of the Psalms and on the Gospel of Matthew. His beatification took place in 1736.