POPE PIUS VI Was born 27 December 1717 at Cesena, Italy as Giovanni Angelo Braschi He died in Valence, France in exile 29 August 1799. He first studied and completed the Doctorate of Law. He became the private secretary to Cardinal Ruffo in the bishopric of Ostia and Velletri and remained in his employ as ‘uditore’ until 1753. In the employ of the cardinal he was sent on a mission to the court of Naples. Here he was observed and Pope Benedict XIV then appointed him as one of his secretaries. In 1774 he was elevated to the position of cardinal. Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II began suppressing monasteries, assumed the right to appoint clergy trying to make the state supreme in matters of conscience. Giovanni was elected Pope in 1775, succeeding Clement XIV just a year after he was made a cardinal. In 1791 he condemned the new church in France where the state church was set up by the French Revolution. Because he sided with the anti-French coalition and had protested the execution by guillotine of Louis XVI, Napoleon Bonaparte attacked the Papal States. He was forced to concede the Treaty of Tolentino in 1797. This treaty saw him hand over Avignon, Venaissin, Ferrara, Bologna and the Romagna to the French along with a huge monetary payment plus works of art and other treasures. Still smarting under the horrific damages of the Treaty of Tolentino, when Napoleon travelled north to settle with the dissident Austrians, the rumour flew around Rome that Napoleon had been defeated. This signalled the opportunity to evict the hated French from Rome, and on December 28, 1797 the French general Leonard Duphot was killed in a fracas outside the Palace Corsini and between it and the Porta Settimiana. This event when the news of it reached the victorious Napoleon near Vienna, caused his chief-of-staff General Louis Alexandre Berthier, a Huguenot, to be sent to take the pope captive. Berthier entered Rome on 14 February 1798 and by 20 February the pope was beginning his journey into exile. He was takento Monterosi, then northwest to Viterbo, then to Bolsena by the lake. Then he was taken on to Sienna where an earthquake made it necessary to move on towards Florence (the La Certosa Monastery). From Florence he was take to Parma, then back to Bologna. Immediately he was taken on through Turin to Pinerolo, then into France to Briançon. After three months he was moved to Grenoble and on to Valence arriving there on 14 July 1799. He died in Valence 29 August 1799. A statue of Pius VI is in the cathedral at Valence behind the main altar.
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