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Pope Pius VIII
(Francesco Xaverio Castiglione).
B. at Cingoli, 20 Nov., 1761; elected 31 March, 1829; d. 1 Dec., 1830. He came of a noble family and attended the Jesuit school at Osimo, later taking courses of canon law at Bologna and Rome. In Rome he associated himself with his teacher Devoti, assisted him in the compilation of his "Institutiones" (1792), and, when Devoti was appointed Bishop of Anagni, became his vicar-general. He subsequently filled the same position under Bishop Severoli at Cingoli, and, after some time, became provost of the cathedral in his native city. In 1800 Pius VII named him Bishop of Montalto, which see he shortly afterwards exchanged for that of Cesena. Under the French domination he was arrested, having refused to take the oath of allegiance to the King of Italy, and brought to Macerata, then to Mantua, and finally to France. In 1816 the pope conferred upon him the cardinal's hat, and in 1822 appointed him Bishop of Frascati and Grand Penitentiary. As early as the conclave of 1823, Castiglione was among the candidates for the papacy. At the election of 1829, France and Austria were desirous of electing a pope of mild and temperate disposition, and Castiglione, whose character corresponded with the requirements, was chosen after a five weeks' session. His reign, which lasted but twenty months, was not wanting in notable occurrences. In April, 1829, the Catholic Emancipation Bill, which made it possible for Catholics to sit in Parliament and to hold public offices, was passed in England. Leo XII had taken a great interest in Catholic Emancipation, but had not lived to see it become law. On 25 March, 1830, Pius published the Brief "Litteris altero abhinc", in which he declared that marriage could be blessed by the Church only when the proper promises were made regarding the Catholic education of the children; otherwise, the parish priest should only assist passively at the ceremony. Under his successor this matter became a cause of conflict in Prussia between the bishops and the Government (see DROSTE-VISCHERING, CLEMENS AUGUST VON). The pope's last months were troubled. In France, the Revolution of July broke out and the king was obliged to flee, being succeeded on the throne by the younger Orleans branch. The pope recognized the new regime with hesitation. The movement, which also affected Belgium and Poland, even extended to Rome, where a lodge of Carbonari with twenty-six members was discovered. In the midst of anxiety and care, Pius VIII, whose constitution had always been delicate, passed away. Before the coronation of his successor, revolution broke out in the Papal States. The character of Pius VIII was mild and amiable, and he enjoyed a reputation for learning, being especially versed in canon law, numismatics, and Biblical literature. In addition, he was extremely conscientious. Thus, he ordered all his relatives, upon his accession to the pontifical throne, to resign the positions which they held.
ARTAUD, Histoire du Pape Pie VIII (Paris, 1844); WISEMAN, Recollections of the Last Four Popes (London and Boston, 1858).