MARIANO Rampolla del Tindaro (pictured above) had the papacy stolen from him, according to secret Vatican papers.
Papers smuggled out of controversial 1903 Conclave confirm that Pius X – now revered as a saint – was not in pole position to become Pope until his rival – Cardinal Rampolla – was eliminated using centuries-old royal veto powers It was a secret vote which changed the course of the papacy.
The papal voting papers, smuggled out of the 1903 Conclave, spell out how Cardinal Giusppe Melchiorre Sarto – now known as Saint Pius X – would almost certainly not have become Pope had it not been for political interference and a now long-forgotten quirk of ecclesiastical law.
The papers, due to be auctioned in London, include a tally of results from early voting in the papal election of August 1903 showing that Rampolla was by far the most popular candidate.
But Cardinal Rampolla, who had been the Vatican Secretary of State under the previous Pope, Leo XIII, was blocked by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph through powers known as the Jus exclusivae, which allowed a select group of Roman Catholic monarchs to veto any would-be pope of whom they disapproved.
The procedure, used only a handful of times in history, allowed a king or queen of Spain or France or the Holy Roman or Austro-Hungarian emperor, to nominate one of the cardinals in advance to exercise their veto with instructions to step in if someone to whom they objected was about to be elected.
Although Cardinal Sarto benefited from the move, as it enabled him to become Pope, there was outrage at the interference and he personally abolished the Jus exclusivae.
The papers include a hand-written tally from the second round of voting showing that Rampolla had already secured the support of 29 of the 61 cardinals present in the Sistine Chapel – just short of a majority. Meanwhile Sarto had only 10 votes. But, after Rampolla was vetoed, he went on to be elected Pope in the seventh round of voting.
The exact reason why the Emperor objected to Rampolla is not known but he is regarded as a Vatican reformer and it is thought he was deemed too liberal for Franz Joseph.