The Conclave Hall in San Giorgio Maggiore in VeniceHistorical Curiosities
The Conclave Hall in San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice
When you hear the word ‘conclave', Rome and the Vatican come to mind, but Venice was also the site of a conclave, from December 1799 to 14 March 1800.
In fact at that time Rome was occupied by Napoleon's troops and the previous pope, Pius VI, died in exile in France. Hence, the Austrian Government chose the city of Venice to elect a new pope, as many cardinals had taken refuge there.
The papal election was held at the Benedictine abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore, which is located on a small island in front of Saint Mark's Basin. The conclave was held on the first floor of the monastery and, after more than three months, the cardinals elected the Bishop of Imola Chiaramonti Barnabas, who became pope under the name of Pius VII.
The monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore became the headquarters of the foundation ‘Giorgio Cini' and the church is still held by Benedictine monks who, upon request, will show the famous hall where the conclave was held to elect a pope. It has remained exactly the same as when the Cardinals left it with their names still inscribed on the high wooden seats.
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