- Historical event:
- 18 September 1765
- Pope Gregory XVI was a member of the Camaldolese religious order (a branch of the Benedictines named after the town of Camaldoli, Italy). All later Popes were elected from the ranks of the bishops.
Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, the man who was to become the 254th Pope in 1831, was born on this day in 1765.
As Pope, he took the name Gregory XVI and remains the last pope who took that name. He was born in the town of Belluno in the Italian Alps. Gregory XVI entered the Camaldolese order at an early age, where he took the name Mauro. The Camaldolese are a branch of the Benedictines named after the town of Camaldoli, Italy.
It is of particular interest that Gregory XVI was the last man who was elected Pope before he became a bishop. All later popes were elected exclusively from the ranks of the bishops. Gregory XVI was a priest before he became Pope, and also a cardinal (at the time one was not even required to become a priest before being made cardinal). The pontificate of Gregory XVI lasted over 15 years.
He was the first and remains the only member of the Camaldolese order to be elected Pope. In his Apostolic Letter “In Supremo Apostolatus”, he condemned slavery and the slave trade, especially that of African slaves (slavery was still common in the southern USA at the time). Pope Gregory XVI is also known as the founder of the eminent Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great, which is still active today.