Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/596

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BESSEL


528


BESSEL


stringent legislation he sought to curb immoderate luxury; and he rebuilt and adorned many churches of the city, among them that of San Luca. By his prudent and far-seeing administration and his abso- lute impartiality he won the confidence of the citizens of Bologna, so that on his departure they honoured his memory in an inscription; and ever afterwards, in all their necessities and in all transactions with the Holy See, they had recourse to his intervention.

While Bessarion was legate in Bologna, Cardi- nal Stefano Porcaro was in banisliment in that city, being assigned one hundred ducats in addition to the annual pension of three hundred granted him by the pope. Porcaro succeeded in eluding Bessarion 's ■vigilance and escaping to Rome. Bessarion did not delay in apprising the pope of his flight. The rest is well known. In 1453 Nicholas V died; and in the conclave following his death, Bessarion was all but chosen to succeed him; however, Calixtus III was finally elected. Constantinople had just fallen into the hands of the Turks and the Byzantine Empire had been destroyed. Thereupon Bessarion usecl all his influence with Francesco Foscari, the Doge of Venice, as well as with the new pope to persuade them to take up the offensive against the invading barbarians. Xot confining his efforts to words, at the cost of hea\y pecimiary sacrifices he furthered the cause of the crusade. His zeal was still more pronounced under Pius II, whose election was due in a special manner to him. In the congress of Mantua, convened by the pope in 1459 for the pur- pose of forming a league of all Cliristian princes against the Turks, Bessarion took a most active part, not justified, however, by results. The love of his native land impelled him to accept the commis.sion given him by the pope to attend two German diets held the foUo^ang year, one on the 2nd of March at Xuremberg, the other on the 25th of the same month at Worms. Neither, however, had any practical re- sults. At the command of the pope he went to Vienna to induce the emperor to assist with arms and supplies Matthias Corvinus, the young King of Hungarj'. After a long wait the German leaders, 17 September, asked for another delay, and only the express wish of Pius II kept Bessarion in Ger- many for a whole year, pleading the cause of the Christians of the Orient. Internal discord among the German leaders prevented them from reaching any decision concerning the crusade, and Bessarion re- turned to Rome disillusioned and discouraged. As a reward for his labours the pope bestowed on him the commendatory Abbey of Grotta-Ferrata of Greek Basilians, which became a centre of learned pursuits. Shortly afterwards, on the death of Cardinal Isidore, metropolitan of Kiew and Patriarch of Constanti- nople, Bessarion received the patriarchal title.

In 146.3 Pius II once more sent him to Venire to ■win that republic over to the cause of the crusade which the pope, on his own initiative, wished to organize. Long, serious discussions ensued, and at last, in September of the same year, the republic signed a treaty of alliance with Matthias Corvinus, and on 20 October the crusade was solemnly pro- claimed. The results hoped for, however, were not entirelj' achieved. During the pontificate of Paul II who continued the crusade, Bessarion witlulrew from active affairs and devoted himself entirely to study, cultivating the friendship of many Greek and Italian scientists then in Rome, and engaging in learned dis- cussions with them. Thus he won the title of Lit- terarum patranus. In his house the first Accademia was founded. In 1470 when Paul II desired to or- ganize a new crusade, Bessarion wrote the letter "De Bello Turcis inferendo". Sixtus IV, who approved the plans of his predecessor, sent Bessarion once more as legate to the King of France, the Duke of Bur- gundy, and the King of England to settle the dis-


cords which had arisen between the first two, and to induce the last-mentioned to join in the great e.xpedi- tion against the enemy of Christianity. On 20 April, 1472, he left Rome — but was received in an un- friendly manner both in Burgundy and at Paris so that he was forced to return to report the complete failure of his mission. The disappointment, the dis- comforts of travelling, and his great age made sad havoc on his strength. At Ravenna he was obliged to interrupt his journej'; there his death occurred at the Abbe}- of St. John the Evangelist, 1rn, who immediately sent him to Rome to study the curi-il practice of the Rota Romana. Ha^^ng completed a two years' course in law, he obtained the degree