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Biography - Pope Innocent IX - The Papal Library

by Catherine Frakas 17 Mar 2021

Innocent IX1591-1591 Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti born 1519 Innocent IX was born on the 20th of July, 1519, at Bologna, of a senatorial family, native of Novara. After receiving the grade of doctor, Giovanni Antonio set out for Rome, where he became secretary to Cardinal Ardinghelli. Subsequently he was governor of Parma and Bishop of Nicastro, in Calabria. In 1561 he went to the Council of Trent. Gregory XIII named him cardinal on the 12th of December, 1583. After the funeral ceremonies of Pope Gregory XIV, fifty-six cardinals met in conclave, and on the 29th of October, 1591, they elected, in open ballot, Cardinal Facchinetti, who was then seventy-two years of age. He took the name of Innocent IX, in memory of Innocent III, a famous jurisconsult, and was privately crowned on the 3rd of November in the same year. On the 8th of that month he went, mounted on a white mule, to take possession of Saint John Lateran. Faithful to ancient custom, the pope announced the news of his exaltation to the patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops. He immediately confirmed the bull of Saint Pius V which forbade the alienation of the territories of the Roman Church. Then a scarcity occurred; and the pestilence, though weaker, still continued its ravages. The pope caused the price of bread to be lowered, and distributed relief to the poor. To meet this, he preferred to borrow forty thousand crowns rather than touch the treasure left by Sixtus V in the Castle of Sant' Angelo. Innocent said that it was useful that a treasure should remain in Rome, at the disposal of the Christian republic. Cardinal Gaetani having solicited the pardon of John Anthony Orsini with a sum of money as the price of that pardon, the pope was indignant, and replied: We require not money, but obedience. From all circumstances it has been concluded that if the reign of Innocent had been longer it would have been a happy one. The Romans agreed in recognizing, in this pope, a matured wisdom, a pure life, liberality, magnificence, and experience in business. On the 30th of December, 1591, he fell dangerously ill, and died, having governed the Church only a little more than two months. Rome then had to bewail the loss of three sovereign pontiffs in less than sixteen months after the death of Sixtus V. Innocent IX was removed from Monte Cavallo to the Vatican, where his ashes repose in the subterranean church. He had a handsome countenance and a lofty stature. Fasting, however, had injured his health. It was his custom to eat only once a day, and in the evening. Among his effects was found a small mirror, divided into two parts; upon the one was painted a death's head, and upon the other a funeral procession. It was thus that he reminded himself of death, for which he daily accustomed himself by looking at that mirror. This biographical data is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by The Chevalier Artaud De Montor. Published by The Catholic Publication Society of New York in ten volumes in 1911. The pictures, included in the volumes, were reproduced from Effigies Pontificum Romanorum Dominici Basae.

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