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INNOCENT XIII

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Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 583 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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INNOCENT XIII. (Michele Angelo Conti), pope from 1721 to 1724, was the son of the duke of Poli, and a member of a family that had produced several popes, among them Innocent III., was born in Rome on the 13th of May 1655, served as nuncio in Switzerland, and, for a much longer time, in Portugal, was made cardinal and bishop of Osimo and Viterbo by Clement XI., whom he succeeded on the 8th of May 1721. One of his first acts was to invest the emperor Charles VI. with Naples (1722); but against the imperial investiture of Don Carlos with Parma and Piacenza he protested, albeit in vain. He recognized the Pretender, "James III.," and promised him subsidies conditional upon the re-establishment of Roman Catholicism in England. Moved by deep-seated distrust of the Jesuits and by their continued practice of " Accommodation," despite express papal prohibition (see CLEMENT XI.), Innocent forbade the Order to receive new members in China, and was said to have meditated its suppression. This encouraged the French Jansenist bishops to press for the revocation of the bull Unigenitus; but the pope commanded its unreserved acceptance. He weakly yielded to pressure and bestowed the cardinal's hat upon the corrupt and debauched Dubois. Innocent died on the 7th of March 1724, and was succeeded by Benedict XIII. See Guarnacci, Vitae et res gestae Pontiff. Rom. (Rome, 1751), ii. 137 sqq., 381 sqq.; Sandini, Vitae Pontiff. Rom. (Padua, 1739); M. v. Mayer, Die Papstwahl Innocent XIII. (Vienna, 1874); Michaud, "La Fin du Clement XI. et le commencement du pontificat d'Innocent XIII." in the Internat. Theol. Zeitschr. v. 42 sqq., 304 sqq. (T. F. C.) INNOCENTS' DAY, or CHILOERMAS, a festival celebrated in the Latin church on the 28th of December, and in the Greek church on the 29th (O.S.) in memory of the massacre of the children by Herod. The Church early regarded these little ones as the first martyrs. It is uncertain when the day was first kept as a saint's day. At first it seems to have been absorbed into the celebration of the Epiphany, but by the 5th century it was kept as a separate festival. In Rome it was a day of fasting and mourning. In the middle ages the festival was the occasion.for much indulgence to the children. The boy-bishop (q.v.), whose tenure of office lasted till Childermas, had his last exercise of authority then, the day being one of the series of days which were known as the Feast of Fools. Parents temporarily abdicatedauthority, and in nunneries and monasteries the youngest nun and monk were for the twenty-four hours allowed to masquerade as abbess and abbot. These mockeries of religion were condemned by the Council of Basel (1431); but though shorn of its extravagances the day is still observed as a feast day and merry-making for children in Catholic countries, and particularly as an occasion for practical joking like an April Fool's Day. In Spanish-America when such a joke has been played, the phrase equivalent to "You April fool ! " is Que la inocencia le valga! May your innocence protect you! The society of Lincoln's Inn specially celebrated Childermas, annually electing a " king of the Cockneys." Innocents' Day was ever accounted unlucky. Nothing was begun and no marriages took place then. Louis XI. prohibited all state business. The coronation of Edward IV., fixed for a Sunday, was postponed till the Monday when it was found the Sunday fell on the 28th of December. In rural England it was deemed unlucky to do housework, put on new clothes or pare the nails. At various places in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Worcestershire muffled peals were rung (Notes and Queries, 1st series, vol. viii. p. 617). In Northampton the festival was called " Dyzemas Day " (possibly from Gr. &o- " ill " and "mass "), and there is a proverb "What is begun on Dyzemas will never be finished." The Irish call the day La Croasta na bliana, " the cross day of the year," or Diar dasin darg, " blood Thursday," and many legends attach to it (Notes and Queries, 4th series, vol. xii. p. 185). In medieval England the children were reminded of the mournfulness of the day by being whipped in bed on Innocents' morning. This custom survived to the 17th century.
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