Pope Pius VI was born on December 25th, 1717 and his real name was Giovanni Angelo Braschi.
He was born in Cesena, where he studied in the Jesuit College and received his doctorate of law. Giovanni continued his studies at the University of Ferrara.
While studying here he became the private secretary of the papal legate and he was the auditor of the bishopric of Ostia and Velletri for some time.
He won the esteem of Pope Benedict XIV when he conducted a successful mission to the court of Naples.
The Pope appointed him as one of his secretaries in 1753. He was engaged to be married but changed his mind, ended the engagement and became priest in 1758.
Pope Clement XIII made him treasurer of the camera apostolica in 1766. He was a very conscientious man and was not loved by those who suffered under his strict economic controls.
After the death of Pope Clement XIV Giovanni was elected Pope in the year 1775 and he took the name of Pius VI.
But not everyone was satisfied with his authority. He met strong opposition from a cultural movement called enlightenment.
This movement consisted of intellectuals who had the purpose to reform society using reason. They also challenged ideas grounded in tradition and faith. This movement promoted science, skepticism and intellectual interchange.
Pope Pius VI decided to visit Vienna to meet the emperor to try to calm these matters, but did not succeed.
It was also under his reign, in the year 1796, that French troops invaded Italy under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Pope negotiated peace and got it, but in the same year during a riot, a popular brigadier-general was killed. The french troops found a new pretext to invade Italy again.
They marched to Rome and entered it without any opposition from the papal troops. They proclaimed a Romans Republic and demanded the Pope to renounce his authority. He was taken to Certosa near Florence as prisoner and after some time to Drome.
Here he died on August 1799 and his body was embalmed , but not buried until January 30th, 1800.
It seemed that this fitted Napoleon's political plans better. Since he had hopes that by burying their deceased Pope, he could bring the Catholic Church back into France.
On December 24th, 1801 Pius VI's body was removed from Valence and buried at Rome. Finally he was given a Catholic funeral!
In the year 1949, by decree of Pope Pius XII, Pius Vi's remains were moved to the Chapel of the Madonna below st. Peter's in the Papal grotto.
Pope Pius VI is best remembered for having established the Museum of the Vatican.