Vatican, Pope Pius VII. Beautiful Copper Baiocco Coin.
Mint Place: Rome Mint Year: 1801 (MDCCCI)
Reference: CNI 10, Paga. 77, Sera. 56, Berm. 3236, KM-1267. Denomination: Baiocco – Papal appropriation of the Basilica of St. John Lateran! Material: Copper Weight: 11.79gm Diameter: 34mm Obverse: Shield, topped by tiara, crossed keys in background. Legend: SACROSANCTAE BASILICAE LATERANENSIS POSSESS. Comment: The Pope took the Basilica of St. John Lateran as his seat on 24. Nov.1801. Exergue: BAIOCCO (Value) Reverse: Legend in four lines, year and, three moor heads below. Legend: PIVS / SEPTIMVS / PONTIFEX / MAXIMVS i. A.: MDCCCI The Basilica of St. John Lateran (Italian: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano) is the cathedral of the church of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. Officially named Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sancti Iohannes Baptista et Evangelista in Laterano ("Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, St. John Baptist and St. John the Evangelist at the Lateran", it is the oldest and ranks first (being the cathedral of Rome) among the four major basilicas of Rome, and holds the title of ecumenical mother church (mother church of the whole inhabited world) among Roman Catholics. An inscription on the façade, Christo Salvatore, dedicates the Lateran as Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, for the cathedrals of all patriarchs are dedicated to Christ Himself. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, containing the papal throne (Cathedra Romana), it ranks above all other churches in the Roman Catholic Church, even above St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Pope Pius VII, OSB (August 14, 1740—August 20, 1823), born Count Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was Pope from March 14, 1800 to August 20, 1823. Chiaramonti was born at Cesena, the son of count Scipione Chiaramonti; his mother, Giovanna Chiaramonti, was the daughter of the marquese Ghini and was related to the Braschi family. He joined the Benedictine order in 1756 at the Abbey of S.Maria del Monte of Cesena and changed his first name to Gregorio. He then became a teacher at Benedictine colleges in Parma and Rome. His career became a series of promotions following the election of a family friend, Giovanni Angelo Braschi, as Pope Pius VI (1775–99). In 1776 Pius VI appointed the 34-year old Barnaba, who had been teaching at the monastery of S. Anselmo in Rome, honorary abbot in commendam of his monastery, to complaints from the brothers. After making him bishop of Tivoli, near Rome, Pius VI made him a cardinal and Bishop of Imola in February 1785. From the time French forces invaded Italy in 1797, the cardinal cautioned temperance and submission to the Cisalpine Republic. In his Christmas homily that year in 1797 he asserted that there was no opposition between a democratic form of government and being a good Catholic: "Be good catholics and you will be good democrats", said the bishop. Following the death of Pius VI, virtually France’s prisoner, at Valence in August 1799, the conclave met on November 30, 1799 in the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio, Venice. There were three main candidates, two of whom proved to be unacceptable to the Habsburgs, whose candidate, Alessandro Cardinal Mattei, could not secure sufficient votes. After several months of stalemate, Chiaramonti was elected as a compromise candidate. He was elected Pope Pius VII at Venice on March 21, 1800 in a rather unusual coronation, wearing a papier-mâché papal tiara, the original having been seized by the French along with Pius VI. Then an Austrian vessel, the "Bellona" brought him to Pesaro, from where he reached Rome by land. One of Pius VII’s first acts was to appoint Ercole Consalvi, who had acted as secretary to the recent conclave, to the college of cardinals and to the office of secretary of state. From the beginning of his papacy to the fall of Napoleon I Bonaparte in 1815, Pius VII would be completely involved with France. He and Napoleon would continually be in conflict, often involving the French military leader’s wishes for concessions to his demands, while the Pope, although he almost always gave in to Napoleon, wanted only the return of the Papal States, and later on the release of the 13 Black Cardinals along with several exiled or imprisoned clergymen, monks, nuns, priests, his various supporters including his secretaries of state, and his own release from exile. Napoleon realized the importance of religion as a means to increase obedience and his control over the French people. It was not until the conclave of Cardinals had gathered to elect a new Pope that Napoleon decided to bury Pope Pius VI who had died several weeks earlier, with a gaudy ceremony in an effort to gain the attention of the Catholic church. This eventually led to the Concordat of 1801 negotiated by Ercole Consalvi, the Pope’s secretary of state, which re-systemised the linkage between the French church and Rome. However the Concordat also contained the "Organic Articles" which Consalvi had fiercely denied Napoleon, but which the latter had installed regardless. Against the wish of most of the Curia, Pius VII travelled to Paris for Napoleon’s coronation in 1804. Although the Pope and the papacy were promised several luxurious gifts and monetary donations, the Pope had initially refused most of these offers. In the event, Napoleon concurred but did produce a Papal Tiara, which presented as its main jewel one that had previously been confiscated by Napoleon from Pope Pius VI. The papacy had suffered a major loss of church lands through secularizations in the Holy Roman Empire following the Peace of Lunéville (1801), when a number of German princes had been compensated for their losses by the seizure of ecclesiastical property. Whatever hopes Pius VII may have had with Napoleon, the Papal States were eventually taken by the French around 1808, and when Napoleon subsequently was excommunicated, one of his officers saw an opportunity to gain praise. Although Napoleon had captured Castel Sant’Angelo and intimidated the Pope by pointing cannons at his papal bedroom, he did not instruct one of his most ambitious lieutenants, Lieutenant Radet, to kidnap the Pope. Yet once Pius VII was a prisoner, Napoleon did not offer his release; the Pope would be moved throughout Napoleon’s territories, in great sickness at times, though most of his confinement would take place at Savona. Napoleon would send several delegations of his supporters to pressure the Pope into various issues, from giving up his power, to signing a new concordat with France. The Pope would remain in confinement for over six years, and not return to Rome until May 24, 1814, when Allied forces freed the Pope on a pursuing chase of Napoleonic forces. The Pope in a final remark on the situation, had his secretary compose a letter to the British government asking for better treatment of the exiled emperor at Saint Helena. One of the final lines of the note stated, "He can no longer be a danger to anybody. We would not wish him to become a cause for remorse." At the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) the Papal States were largely restored. The pope rejoiced. The Jesuits were restored; the Index and the Inquisition were revived. The Roman Jews had to return to the ghetto. Yet he gladly offered a refuge in his capital to the members of the Bonaparte family. Princess Letitia, the deposed emperor’s mother, lived there; likewise did his brothers Lucien and Louis and his uncle, Cardinal Fesch.