Colonna (De Columna), the name of an ancient princely family in Italy, which was famous for many centuries, and especially during the Middle Ages, for the number of cardinals and bishops which it gave to the Roman Church, and for the prominent influence which it exercised upon the election of the popes and the government of the papal states. In the quarrels between the popes and the emperors, the Colonnas mostly sided with the emperors. Boniface VIII became so incensed at the hostile attitude of the family, that the descendants of the princes John III and Otto XVII were declared by him to be "irregular" until the fourth generation. According to some ecclesiastical writers, Pope Alexander III (according to others Gregory IX) declared all the members of the family, for all time to come, incapable of holding any ecclesiastical office. The authenticity of this decree is doubtful; if it was ever issued, it soon fell into disuse, for there is no other family which counts so large a number of cardinals among its members as the Colonnas. Only one of the family ascended the papal chair under the name of Martin V (q.v.); in general, public opinion in Rome was so much opposed to the election of a Colonna as pope, that there was a proverb: Nec frater, nec Gallus, nec Columna erunt papa (Neither a brother [of the deceased pope], nor a Frenchman, nor a Colonna, must be elected pope). A great many of the cardinals of this family were known for their fighting propensities; and as late as 1527 the Cardinal Pompey Colonna expelled Pope Clement VII from Rome, who on that account deposed him from his ecclesiastical dignity, and pronounced the ban against him. He was, however, restored to all his dignities in 1529. But very few of the Colonnas published any theological writings; one of these few was

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