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Catholic Te@tboo# &ro,ect

Republican Emperor

s emperor, Napoleon began to see himself as the new Charlemagne. As Charlemagne had tried to do, Napoleon would restore the grandeur and glory and might of the ancient

Roman Empire. Only one thing was missing, however. The pope had crowned Charlemagne as emperor, but Napoleon s imperial title had come from a band of old legislators. The whole business did not have all the grandeur it could have. Napoleon thus decided that he needed to be crowned emperor ! and by no one other than the pope. "nli#e Charlemagne, however, Napoleon would not go to Rome for the crowning. Nor would he be crowned at Reims, where for centuries the Capetian, $alois, and %ourbon #ings had received their royal consecration. The coronation, if one was to occur, would have to be held in &aris, Napoleon s capital ! and it would have to ta#e place at the chief church of &aris, the Cathedral of Notre 'ame. Napoleon would not go to Rome, for he was determined to bring Rome to him. (n )ay, &ope &ius $(( received a rather unwelcome message from Cardinal Caprara, his representative in &aris. The Emperor Napoleon re*uested the pope to come to &aris to carry out the traditional ceremonies for the coronation of a monarch. And Caprara warned +is +oliness that if he refused, he could lose Napoleon s friendship. The emperor s re*uest put the pope in a very difficult place. +e could not afford to anger Napoleon, for doing so could ,eopardi-e the freedom of the Church in .rance. At the same time, &ius was surrounded by cardinals and others who supported
'etail from AThe Coronation of NapoleonB by 4ac*uesC0ouis 'avid, showing &ope &ius $((, seated, and Cardinal Caprara

/ing 0ouis 1$(((. 2hat, too, would the +oly Roman Emperor .ran- (( say if the pope should crown a rival emperor in western Europe3 &ius $(( was gentle and at times found it difficult to ma#e decisions. +e therefore consulted his secretary of state, the decisive Cardinal Consalvi. (t was Consalvi s advice to stall for time and send Napoleon replies that did not give a definite answer. This was done, but Napoleon too# these replies to mean that pope had agreed to his re*uest. At the end of 4une 5678, the emperor announced at the Tuileries that the pope would come for the coronation9though no such assurance had been given: 2ee#s passed, and still the pope gave no definite answer. (t was Talleyrand, the renegade bishop, who used his diplomatic s#ill to convince the pope to agree to the coronation. &ius, however, told Talleyrand that he would come only if the consecration ;the blessing of the new monarch< would

not be done separately from the actual crowning. This meant that it was to be the pope who placed the imperial crown on Napoleon s head9the traditional sign that the spiritual authority of the Church was supreme over the temporal power of the state. 2hen &ius $(( departed from Rome for &aris on November >, 5678, he feared he might never return again. +is passage through .rance, however, gave him great ,oy and consolationD everywhere he went, the .rench people greeted him with ,oyful reverence. &ius himself said that, in .rance, he Amoved through a nation on its #nees.B The pope s reception by Napoleon, however, was not very satisfactory. The emperor met the pope in the open country, in a hunting carriage, and as#ed him to climb in. Thus the pope did not process into &aris with the honor due to the $icar of Christ on Earth. (n the capital, however, he again witnessed the devotion of the faithful who had gathered to meet their chief shepherd, the head of the Church on earth.

The Crowning
'espite all the negotiations, despite the hopes and fears, despite the long ,ourney from Rome to &aris, only a few days before it was to ta#e place, it loo#ed as if the coronation would not occur. As part of the ceremony the pope was to crown 4osephine empressD but, &ius $(( learned, Napoleon and 4osephine had had only a civil marriage. They had not been married in the Church. The pope told the couple that if they did not have their marriage blessed, he would perform no coronation. "nwilling to have a public fight with the pope, Napoleon reluctantly agreed to &ius s demand. On 'ecember 5, he and 4osephine were married in a private ceremony at the palace of the Tuileries. The ne@t day, 'ecemC ber >, 5678, thousands gathered in the cathedral of Notre 'ame for the great event that would ma#e
'etail from The Coronation of Napoleon by 4ac*uesC0ouis 'avid. &ope &ius $(( is shown behind Napoleon giving his blessing. The popeFs raised hand, however, was added by the artist on NapoleonFs orders.

Napoleon %onaparte the anointed of Eod. As the pope s throne before the high altar was being prepared, the ancient walls ;hung with rich tapestries< and vault of Notre 'ame echoed to the chanting of 877 priests. Adding to the splendor were the senators, counselors of state, and tribunes of .rance wearing hats topped with

great plumes. %ishops and priests, adorned in rich, beautiful vestments, stood in the sanctuary while a host of lovely women, dressed in e@*uisite gowns and adorned with ,ewels, lined the aisles or sat in the wings. Napoleon had seen to it that his crowning would have all the glory of the ancient regime. As the pope processed into the church, the choir too# up the anthem, Tu es Petrus ;AThou art &eterB<. As one eyewitness wrote, &ius $(( Aadvanced from the door with an air at once ma,estic and humble.B "pon reaching the choir, the pontiff mounted the throne prepared for him and awaited the arrival of the emperor. The firing of a cannon announced that Napoleon had left the Tuileries palace. 2hen at last he entered the cathedral, he was not the 0ittle Corporal, nor the victorious general, nor the republican .irst Consul. %oth he and 4osephine were adorned as monarchs, in ma,estic robes of royal purpleD a golden laurel wreath rested on Napoleon s dar# hair. The emperor processed to the high altar and, with 4osephine beside him, too# his seat on the throne prepared for him. &ope &ius solemnly performed the ancient rite of anointing, placing the holy oils on Napoleon s head and each of his hands. The pope then began the prayer of consecration, which ended with these wordsG A'iffuse, O 0ord, by my hands the treasures of your grace on your servant Napoleon whom, in spite of our unworthiness, we this day anoint emperor in your name.B Then came the clima@ of the ceremonyG the crowning. Napoleon had ordered that his crown would be an e@act replica of the one Charlemagne had worn at his imperial coronation of old. According to the ancient ceremony, the pope was to ta#e the crown from its place on the high altar and put it on the emperor s head. %ut as &ius turned to lift the crown from the cushion on which it rested, Napoleon stepped to the altar and sei-ed the crown, lifting it high before all those assembled. +e then slowly placed the crown on his own head. 'uring the crowning of 4osephine, again by Napoleon, &ius sat on his throne, his hands resting on his lap, his eyes sad, his manner thoughtful. Then, after a long sermon by the archbishop of &aris, pope and emperor prepared to pass out of the cathedral. %oth stood. &ius turned to Napoleon, and placing his hands on the emperor s shoulders and slightly inclining his head, he gave him the #iss of peace and uttered the words, Vivat Imperator in aeternum! ;A)ay the emperor live forever.B< Thus, by the blessing of the Church, the 0ittle Corporal became the EodCanointed emperor of the Republic of .rance. 2hat this meant for Europe, only time would tellD but, that day, those who attended the coronation were filled only with dreams of the glory of .rance. 0ess happy thoughts may have passed through the mind of the pope. Napoleon had wrested from him the ancient right of the

Church to crown #ings and emperors. 2hat this meant for the future, &ius could not #now. +e had given Napoleon the #iss of peace9but would peace continue between the empire and the Church3 Again, only time would tell. %ut, in his heart, &ius $(( may have felt deep foreboding.