On returning from exile, Pope Pius VII is welcomed by the Dukes of Modena

May 24, 2012

Ducal Palace in Modena

The palace of the Archbishop of Modena-Nonantola is located at Corso Duomo, 34, immediately across from the front entrance of the cathedral.

In the entrance corridor of the first floor is a painting recording the visit of Pope Pius VII to Modena in 1815. 1 The painting shows Pius VII extending his hand to a kneeling Maria Beatrix Victoria of Savoia. Behind Duchess Maria stands her husband Duke Francis IV of Modena.

Pius VII arrived in Modena on May 24, 1815. The following day he celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi in the town together with the Duchess, her husband, and the entire court. He spent at least one night as a guest in the Palazzo Ducale. 2

Pope Pius VII being greeted by the Duchess of Modena. Photo © Noel S. McFerran 2007

The painting is a 1901 copy by S. Grandi of an 1857 original by Geminiano Mundici. The original was probably prepared as part of a cycle of paintings on the glories of the House of Este which King Francis I ordered to decorate some rooms in the Palazzo Ducale. In the Palazzo Ducale there is a large detail of the central portion of the painting, showing just the pope, Mary, and Francis. 3

Painted by Adeodato Malatesta

Portrait of Maria Beatrix Victoria of Savoia, Duchess of Modena. She was also heiress to the Jacobite claims to the thrones of England and Scotland. (1792-1840).


Reprinted with the kind permission of Mr. Noel S. McFerran and The Jacobite Heritage

Nobility.org Editorial Comment: —

James II lost the crowns of England and Scotland because of his Catholic Faith. Concerned that the Pope would not have money to support himself in his exile, James II’s grandson, Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York, gave Pius VI the Stuart crown jewels when Napoleon’s troops forcibly removed him from Rome and took him to France.
The Jacobite rights were inherited by the Duchess of Modena who as this post explains welcomed Pius VII when he was finally released from imprisonment and allowed to return to Rome.


1 The painting is a 1901 copy by S. Grandi of an 1857 original by Geminiano Mundici.

2 Bartolomeo Pacca, Relazione del viaggio di Pio Papa VII a Genoa nella primavera dell’anno 1815 e del suo ritorno in Roma (Orvieto: Sperandio Pompei, 1833), 120-121.

3 Cf. a photograph in Albano Biondi, Il Palazzo Ducale di Modena: sette secoli di uno spazio cittadino (Modena: Panini, 1987), 263. The photograph was taken circa 1930. The painting was then located in the same room as Adeodata Malatesta’s “Alfonso III d’Este taking the Franciscan habit”.


  (Image of The Visit of Pius VII): © Noel S. McFerran 2007.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Previous post:

Next post: