We have been talking for several days about this historic conclave. Some of the information is repeated, and some of it is interesting and new, particularly the state of Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto’s heart and mind when he realizes what is occurring–that he will be elected.
August 3, 1903: Day 4 of the Historic Conclave Electing Giuseppe Sarto, & Cardinal Svampa’s Note on a Ballot He Saved
This ballot shows Cardinal Svampa’s (himself, one of the papabili of the Conclave) support of Giuseppe Sarto, throughout all of the votes. A note on the back of this ballot reads that he has voted for Sarto during all of the ballots and was not influenced by the veto issued by Emperor Franz Jozeph.
The ballot is an example of the ballots used by all the cardinals in that Conclave.
Neither this ballot with the appended note from Cardinal Svampa, nor the Scrutiny Sheet viewed earlier this week, should exist. They should have been burned with the other ballots and scrutiny sheets. Cardinal Svampa must have pocketed these items, knowing their great historic value.
And they are now part of the Papal Artifacts’ Collection of Father Richard Kunst.
And part of the living history of our Church.
Day 4 of the Conclave
The Conclave of 1903 lasted from the afternoon of Friday, July 31, to August 4. At this point in time, the Jus exclusivae had already been invoked by Franz Jozeph, and Cardinal Rampolla, the leading choice of the Conclave, was out of the running.
Politics were also involved. Not only were the Austria-Hungary and German allies in agreement regarding their opposition to Rampolla but also, the Italian government, part of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, was also hostile to him, since Rampolla was affected by the Italian government’s overthrow of his own Sicilian interest in the south.
The veto served all of these interests.
And, thus, the 4th ballot began to favor the most acceptable candidate, Sarto.
Archbishop Merry del Val, the secretary of the conclave, after several other duties connected to the legitimacy of the candidates, was sent to check on the Patriarch of Venice, Sarto, and found him, after the 5th ballot, kneeling before an image of Our Lady of Good Counsel in the Pauline Chapel, crying. Del Val abandoned his mission, which was to secure an answer from Sarto regarding his acceptance or formal refusal to be elected.
Instead, he held the emotional Sarto and told him, Eminence, take courage! The Lord will help.
Merry del Val figures heavily in a future election, too.
As the ballots continue to be counted, Giuseppe Sarto, Patriarch of Venice draws closer to the barque of Peter.
On August 4th, on the 7th and final ballot, Sarto received 50 votes, and the son of a postman and a seamstress becomes the 257th Supreme Pontiff.
For an interesting “papal minute,” from Father Kunst, please scroll to the title, Papal Tailors, to find out a little known fact about the soon-to-be pontiff: