The Orsini Mitres (Pope Benedict XIII)

Cardinal Vincenzo Maria Orsini, later Pope Benedict XIII (1724-1730), was a Dominican friar, Cardinal and Pope who considered his religious vocation and spiritual responsibilities as a shepherd as his main priority, as opposed to being an 'ecclesiastical administrator.'  Born in 1649, he was ordained a priest in 1671 and, due to the influence of the Orsini family in Rome, was named a Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto Vecchio in 1672 -- it is said against his will.  Ultimately he remained in this post for many decades until finally in 1724 he was elected Roman pontiff, taking the name of Pope Benedict XIII. 

Cardinal Orsini / Benedict XIII, as noted, was one who was more interested in matters spiritual than worldly and was considered quite ascetic and, during his time as pontiff, built many hospitals. I note this because, in a lesson that is surely still lost on many within the Church today even at the very highest levels, he understood that this did not mean that he should impoverish the sacred liturgy. Here was a pope, prelate and a man who understood, like St. Francis of Assisi, that poverty was something one adopted in one's own personal life and private habits, not through the impoverishment of public, divine worship. Here was a man who understood there was not only no contradiction within this, but that this was in fact the right ordering of things; here was a man of God who understood that apostolic outreach and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy were not to be set into opposition with the beautification of divine worship and all that surrounded it. 

In another article we will look at some of the Orsini chasubles, but today I thought we would focus on the breathtaking mitres that were made for Cardinal Orsini, as well as one which was made for him as Pope Benedict XIII. The first three precious mitres for your consideration all date to his time as a Cardinal and are dated to the period of 1690-1710. I think little commentary is required. 




Finally, we have also have this mitre which was made for him when he reigned as Roman pontiff. As such this would date this particular precious mitre from the period of approximately 1724-1730:

Benedict XIII died in 1730 at the age of 81 and is entombed in the basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva located just beside the Pantheon in the heart of Rome.  His 'both/and' approach is surely a lesson that needs to be emphasized and learnt in our own age when people seem all too quick to adopt a worldly and secular mindset toward things such as these and set them into false opposition with one another.  

Benedict XIII was declared a Servant of God in 2017.

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