Pope Saint Benedict XI, originally known as Nicholas Boccasini, was born in Treviso, Italy, in 1240 and passed away on 7 July, 1304, in Perugia. He joined the Dominican Order when he was only 14 years old. After dedicating 14 years to his studies, he ascended to the position of lector of theology, a role he held for several years.

In 1296, amid growing hostility towards Pope Boniface VIII, Boccasini was elected as the Master General of the Order. As the leader, he issued a directive that none of his subjects should support the Pope’s opponents in any manner. He further instructed them to affirm the legitimacy of Boniface’s election in their sermons, if it was fitting to do so. Boccasini’s unwavering loyalty was appreciated by Boniface, who expressed his gratitude through various signs of favour and confidence.

Boccasini was entrusted with a critical mission to negotiate an armistice between the warring nations of England, led by Edward I, and France, led by Philip IV. He executed this mission alongside two cardinal-legates appointed by Boniface.

In 1298, Boccasini was elevated to the position of a cardinal. Later, he was designated as the Bishop of Ostia and the Dean of the Sacred College. His role extended further when Hungary was plunged into civil war. The Holy See assigned him as their representative to broker peace in the nation. Upon his return to Rome, Boccasini found himself in the midst of the intense conflict between Boniface VIII and Philip the Fair. Even when Pope Boniface VIII was overpowered by his enemies in the sacred palace, Boccasini stood by the Pope’s side, along with the Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina, to defend him against the aggression of William of Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna.

Boccasini’s loyalty was rewarded when, a month after the violence against Boniface, he was unanimously elected Pope on October 22, 1303. He took the name Benedict XI. The major accomplishment of his pontificate was the reconciliation with the French court. However, his reign was abruptly ended after just eight months when he suddenly died in Perugia. There were suspicions, not entirely unfounded, that his untimely death was a result of poisoning by William of Nogaret.

Benedict XI was beatified in 1773, and his feast is celebrated on July 7th in Rome and throughout the Dominican Order. He left behind a wealth of written works, including a collection of sermons and commentaries on parts of the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Psalms, the Book of Job, and the Apocalypse.

Photo credit: Sailko via Wikimedia Commons
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  1. Lord my prayers for all in pain and suffering. Graciously help each and every one. The youth that is looking for work to a start in their young lives. For all the people with alcohol and drug addictions. Lord help these people to turn to you for help as you will not forsake them. What ever the intension of your people today, Lord please help one and all. The Children that are suffering and cannot turn to anyone but only you Lord, graciously
    hear my prayers. Lord keep my family and husband strong and protect them from all evil, dangers, visible and invisible. Lord you have a plan for all of us. AMEN.

  2. Pope Saint Benedict xi, pray for us. Help us be more like Job, faithful without folly. If doubt arises, let us be rebuked by God our Almighty Father, and trust Him to lead us to the peace that surpasses all understanding. To murder a Pope is unconscionable, especially only 8mos in, but we remember your loyalty and reason and unifying alliance. William who? =) Thank you for your inspiring sacred example. Amen.


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