Today, 214 years Cardinal Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was elected Pope and was to exercise the Petrine Office for 23 years. A Benedictine monk, theologian, and bishop, he would universally restore the Society of Jesus in 1813 with the publication of the Papal Bull Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum. His predecessor, Pius VI, had died in France, and the conclave to elect his successor took place in a Benedictine Monastery of San Giorgio in Venice. The conclave lasted several months as a stalemate emerged due to the influence of the Hapsburgs, Francis II the last Holy Roman Emperor and the Austrian Cardinals he controlled.
Austria was embroiled in a war against Napoleon and the French. Cardinal Chiaramonti got through as a compromise candidate and took the pontifical name of Pius VII. He was crowned on 21 March, in a rather unusual ceremony, wearing a papier-mâché papal tiara, since the French had seized the originals when they captured Pius VI. After his election he sailed to Rome on a barely seaworthy Austrian ship, the "Bellona", which did not even have cooking facilities. The voyage took 12 days to carry him to Pesaro, from where he proceeded to Rome.
An important and shrewd move was his appointment of the secretary of the conclave, Ercole Consalvi as his Secretary of State. Consalvi was elevated to the College of Cardinals and according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia was one of the greatest statesmen of the nineteenth century. He was key to the many successes of Pius’s long pontificate. Pius was able to restore the Pontifical States, secured at the Congress of Vienna by Consalvi. The temporal administration of these states had been improved by the French and Pius judiciously retained these changes, the feudal rights of the nobility were abolished, and the ancient privileges of the municipalities suppressed. During his pontificate Pius created 99 cardinals in 19 consistories. He is now in the process towards sainthood, his cause of canonization was started at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, and he was granted the title of Servant of God.