Sede Vacante, 1774-1775

Muntoni 1; Berman 2945, PCGS graded MS-64

Rome. SEDE VA-CANTE, canopy and crossed keys over shield. Reverse: VENI LVMEN COR-DIVM 1774, the Church seated right on cloud, holding keys and temple.

This coin was struck in the first 87 days of the vacancy of the Throne of St. Peter that extended from October 5, 1774 to February 15, 1775. During this period the College of Cardinals struggled to elect a successor to Pope Clement XIV. It was a particularly difficult situation due to the factionalism created by Clement’s repression of the Jesuit order. A curial faction wanted a new pope who would not bow to the demands of secular European powers while the pro-Jesuit Zelanti faction desired a pope who would restore the Jesuits. A third anti-Jesuit group looked for a pope who would continue the policies of Clement XIV. French, Spanish, and Austrian royal influence in the decision-making process made the situation even more difficult, but at last Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Braschi was elected as Pope Pius VI.