Another fearful enemy, armed with words of Holy Writ, was now added to the list of those who had attacked him with the sword. This new adversary was Pope Clement XIII. He mounted the apostolic throne in May, 1758, and immediately declared himself the irreconcilable foe of the little Marquis of Brandenburg, who had dared to hold up throughout Prussia all superstition and bigotry to mockery and derision; who had illuminated the holy gloom and obscurity of the church with the clear light of reason and truth; who misused the priests and religious orders, and welcomed and assisted in Prussia all those whom the holy mother Catholic Church banished for heresies and unbelief.
Benedict, the predecessor of the present pope, was also known to have been the enemy of Frederick, but he was wise enough to be silent and not draw down upon the cloisters, and colleges, and Catholics of Prussia the rage of the king.
But Clement, in his fanatical zeal, was not satisfied to pursue this course. He was resolved to do battle against this heretical king. He fulminated the anathemas of the church and bitter imprecations against him, and showered down words of blessing and salvation upon all those who declared themselves his foes. Because of this fanatical hatred, Austria received a new honor, a new title from the hands of the pope. As a reward for her enmity to this atheistical marquis, and the great service which she had rendered in this war, the pope bestowed the title of apostolic majesty upon the empress and her successors. Not only the royal house of Austria, but the generals and the whole army of pious and believing Christians, should know and feel that the blessing of the pope rested upon their arms, protecting them from adversity and defeat. The glorious victory of Hochkirch must be solemnly celebrated, and the armies of the allies incited to more daring deeds of arms.
For this reason, Pope Clement sent to Field-Marshal Daun, who had commanded at the battle of Hochkirch, a consecrated hat and sword, thus changing this political into a religious war. It was no longer a question of earthly possessions, but a holy contest against an heretical enemy of mother church. Up to this time, these consecrated gifts had been only bestowed upon generals who had already subdued unbelievers or subjugated barbarians. [Footnote: OEuvres Posthumes, vol. iii.]
But King Frederick of Prussia laughed at these attacks of God's vicegerent. To his enemies, armed with the sword, he opposed his own glittering blade; to his popish enemy, armed with the tongue and the pen, he opposed the same weapons. He met the first in the open field, the last in winter quarters, through those biting, mocking, keen Fliegenden Blattern, which at that time made all Europe roar with laughter, and crushed and brought to nothing the great deeds of the pope by the curse of ridicule.
The consecrated hat and sword of Field-Marshal Daun lost its value through the letter of thanks from Daun to the pope, which the king intercepted, and which, even in Austria, was laughed at and made sport of.
The congratulatory letter of the Princess Soubise to Daun was also made public, and produced general merriment.
When the pope called Frederick the "heretical Marchese di Brandenburgo," the king returned the compliment by calling him the "Grand Lama," and delighted himself over the assumed infallibility of the vicegerent of the Most High.