Pope Innocent X

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Innocent X
Retrato del Papa Inocencio X. Roma, by Diego Velázquez.jpg
Papacy began 15 September 1644
Papacy ended 7 January 1655
Predecessor Urban VIII
Successor Alexander VII
Consecration 25 January 1626
by Laudivio Zacchia
Created Cardinal 19 November 1629
by Urban VIII
Personal details
Birth name Giovanni Battista Pamphilj or Pamphili
Born (1574-05-06)6 May 1574
Rome, Papal States
Died 7 January 1655(1655-01-07) (aged 80)
Rome, Papal States
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Motto Allevitæ sunt aquæ super terram ("Water on earth")
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Other popes named Innocent

Pope Innocent X (Latin: Innocentius X; 6 May 1574 – 7 January 1655), born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj (or Pamphili), was pope from 15 September 1644 to his death in 1655.[1]

Born in Rome of a family from Gubbio in Umbria who had come to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Innocent IX, he graduated from the Collegio Romano and followed a conventional cursus honorum, following his uncle Girolamo Pamphilj as auditor of the Rota, and like him, attaining the dignity of Cardinal-Priest of Sant'Eusebio, in 1629.

Trained as a lawyer, he succeeded Pope Urban VIII (1623–44) on 15 September 1644, as one of the most politically shrewd pontiffs of the era, who greatly increased the temporal power of the Holy See.


Early life

He was the son of Camillo Pamphili, of the Roman Pamphili family. The family, originally from Gubbio, was directly descended from Pope Alexander VI.[2]

Pope Gregory XV (1621–23) sent him as nuncio to the court of the Kingdom of Naples.[3] Urban VIII sent him to accompany his nephew, Francesco Barberini, whom he had accredited as nuncio, first in France and then in Spain,[4] where Pamphilj had the first-hand opportunities to form an intense animosity towards the Barberini.

In reward for his labors, Giovanni Battista was made apostolic nuncio at the court of Philip IV of Spain (1621–65). The position led to a lifelong association with the Spaniards which was of great use during the papal conclave of 1644.



The 1644 conclave for the election of a successor to Urban VIII was long and stormy, lasting from 9 August to 15 September. The large French faction led by Pope Urban's nephews objected to the Spanish candidate, as an enemy of Cardinal Mazarin, who guided French policy. They put up their own candidate (Giulio Cesare Sacchetti) but could not establish enough support for him and agreed to Pamphilj as an acceptable compromise, though he had served as legate to Spain.[5] Mazarin himself, bearing the French veto of Cardinal Pamphilj, arrived too late, and the election was accomplished.[6]

Relations with France

Papal styles of
Pope Innocent X
C o a Innocenzo X.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

Soon after his accession, Innocent X (as he chose to be called) initiated legal action against the Barberini for misappropriation of public funds. The brothers Francesco Barberini, Antonio Barberini and Taddeo Barberini fled to Paris, where they found a powerful protector in Cardinal Mazarin.[7] Innocent X confiscated their property, and on 19 February 1646, issued a bull ordaining that all cardinals who might leave the Papal States for six months without express papal permission would be deprived of their benefices and eventually of their cardinalate itself. The French parliament declared the papal ordinance void in France, but Innocent X did not yield until Mazarin prepared to send troops to Italy. Henceforth the papal policy towards France became more friendly, and somewhat later the Barberini were rehabilitated when the son of Taddeo Barberini, Maffeo Barberini, married Olimpia Giustiniani, a niece of Innocent X.

In 1653, Innocent X with the Cum Occasione papal bull condemned five propositions of Jansenius's Augustinus, inspired by St. Augustine,[8] as heretical and close to Lutheranism. This led to the formulary controversy, Blaise Pascal's writing of the Lettres Provinciales, and finally to the razing of the Jansenist convent of Port-Royal and the subsequent dissolving of its community.

Relations with Parma

The death of Pope Urban VIII is said to have been hastened by chagrin at the result of the First War of Castro, a war he had undertaken against Odoardo Farnese, the duke of Parma. Hostilities between the papacy and the Duchy of Parma resumed in 1649, and forces loyal to Pope Innocent X destroyed the city of Castro on 2 September 1649.[9]

Innocent X objected to the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia, against which his nuncio, Fabio Chigi, in his name vainly protested, and against which in 1650 he issued the bull Zelo Domus Dei backdated[10] to November 1648, which was ignored by the European powers. The most important of his doctrinal decisions was his condemnation of five disputed Jansenist propositions, in his papal bull, Cum occasione issued, 31 May 1653.[11]

English Civil War

During the Civil War (1642–49) in England and Ireland, Innocent X strongly supported the independent (and Catholic) Confederate Ireland, over the objections of Mazarin and the former English Queen and at that time Queen Mother, Henrietta Maria, exiled in Paris. The pope sent as nuncio extraordinary to Ireland, Giovanni Battista Rinuccini, archbishop of Fermo, who arrived at Kilkenny with a large quantity of arms, military supplies including 20,000 pounds of gunpowder, and a very large sum of money.[12]

At Kilkenny, Rinuccini was received with great honours, asserting in his Latin declaration that the object of his mission was to sustain the king but, above all, to rescue from pains and penalties the Catholic people of Ireland in securing the free and public exercise of the Catholic religion, and the restoration of the churches and church property, but, in the end, Oliver Cromwell restored Ireland to the Parliamentarian side and Rinuccini returned to Rome in 1649, after four fruitless years.

Olimpia Maidalchini

Olimpia Maidalchini, who had been married to his late brother, was believed to be Innocent X's mistress because of her influence over him in matters of promotion and politics. This state of affairs was alluded to in the Encyclopædia Britannica 9th edition (1880):

"Throughout his reign the influence exercised over him by Maidalchini, his deceased brother's wife, was very great, and such as to give rise to gross scandal, for which, however, there appears to have been no adequate ground.... The avarice of his female counsellor gave to his reign a tone of oppression and sordid greed which probably it would not otherwise have shown, for personally he was not without noble and reforming impulses."

The relationship between Olimpia and Innocent X, both before and during his papacy, is the main concern of the book "Mistress of the Vatican" by Eleanor Hermann, published in 2008.

Death and legacy

Guido Reni's archangel Michael (Capuchin church of Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome) tramples a Satan with the vividly recognizable features of Pope Innocent X.
Giovanni Battista Pamphili

A measure of the rivalry between two arriviste papal families, the Barberini and the Pamphilj, can be judged from Guido Reni's painting of the Archangel Michael, trampling Satan in which the features of the Pamphilj are immediately recognized. The less-than-subtle political statement still hangs in a side chapel of the Capuchin friars' Church of the Conception (Santa Maria della Concezione) in Rome. During the papacy of Pope Urban VIII, Giovanni Battista Pamphilj was the pope's most significant rival among the College of Cardinals. Antonio Barberini, the pope's brother, was a cardinal who had begun his career with the Capuchin brothers. About 1635, at the height of the Thirty Years' War in Germany, in which the Papacy was intricately involved, Cardinal Antonio commissioned the painting of the combative archangel Michael, trampling Satan (the source of heresy and error) for the church of his old Order.

The legend that the high-living patrician painter Guido Reni, whose personal dash was at least as great as his brilliant drawing and brushwork, had been insulted by rumours circulated, he thought, by Cardinal Pamphilj, serves to place on the painter's shoulders the vengeful act that could not have been overlooked, or discouraged, by his Barberini patron. When, a few years later, Pamphilj was raised to the papacy, other Barberini relatives fled to France on the embezzlement accusations that have been mentioned but the Capuchins held fast to their chapel altarpiece.

Innocent was responsible for raising the then Colegio de Santo Tomás de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario into the rank of a university and now the University of Santo Tomás in Manila, the oldest existing in Asia.

In 1650, Innocent X celebrated a Jubilee. He embellished Rome with inlaid floors and bas-relief in Saint Peter's, erected Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona, the Pamphilj stronghold in Rome, and ordered the construction of Palazzo Nuovo at the Campidoglio.

Innocent X is also the subject of Portrait of Innocent X, a famous painting by Diego Velázquez housed in the family gallery of Palazzo Doria (Galleria Doria Pamphilj). This portrait inspired the "Screaming Pope" paintings by 20th century painter Francis Bacon, the most famous of which is Bacon's Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X.

Innocent X died 7 January 1655, and at the conclave of 1655 was succeeded by Pope Alexander VII.

See also


  1. Dictionnaire Général pour la maîtrise de la langue française la culture classique et contemporaine. Larousse. 1993. p. 812. ISBN 2-03-320300-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Williams, George L. (2004). Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes. McFarland. p. 109. ISBN 0786420715. Retrieved 22 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Vergil and the Pamphili Family in Piazza Navona, Rome, Igrid Rowland, A Companion to Vergil's Aeneid and its Tradition, Ed. Joseph Farrell and Michael C.J. Putnam, (Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2010), 253.
  4. Innocent X, Philippe Boutry, The Papacy:An Encyclopedia, Vol.2, Ed. Philippe Levillain, (Routledge, 2002), 801.
  5. History of the popes; their church and state (Volume III) by Leopold von Ranke (2009, Wellesley College Library)
  6. S. Miranda: Pope Innocent X
  7. George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, (McFarland & Company, 1998), 109.
  8. Jansenism, Raymond A. Blacketer, The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History: The Early, Medieval, and Reformation Era, Ed. Robert Benedetto, (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 348.
  9. George L. Williams, 109.
  10. W. Platzhoff, "Catholics and the Peace of Westphalia"
  11. "New Advent – Pope Innocent X". Newadvent.org. 1910-10-01. Retrieved 2013-06-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "con somme cospicue di pecunia ed altre munizioni", G. Alazzi, Nunciatura in Irlanda di Monsignor Gio. Batista Rinuccini (Florence) 1844, preface (p. vi) to the publication of Rinucci's official letters: see Giovanni Battista Rinuccini.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Luigi Caetani
Titular Latin Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by
Cesare Monti
Preceded by
Urban VIII
15 September 1644 – 7 January 1655
Succeeded by
Alexander VII