Clement XII

Pope from 1730. Lorenzo Corsini, born at Florence, studied at the Roman College and Pisa University. On his father’s death he entered the church, and became titular bishop of Nicomedia and nuncio to Vienna (1691), governor of Castel Sant’ Angelo (1696), and cardinal (1706). He became blind in 1732, but despite ill health tried to halt the decline of papal power. He defended church rights threatened by encroachments of the Catholic powers, and though forced to allow the papacy to lose its feudal rights in Parma and Piacenza, he made significant agreements with Spain and Portugal. He took action against the Jansenists. In 1738 he condemned Freemasonry,* forbidding Catholics to belong to Masonic lodges under pain of excommunication. He vigorously supported missionary activity, founding a seminary for training priests of the Greek rite at Ullano, S Italy, helping the Lebanese Maronites, and sending Franciscans to Ethiopia.