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Pope Clement IX : biography

28 January 1600 - 9 December 1669

Pope Clement IX ( 28 January 1600 – 9 December 1669), born Giulio Rospigliosi, was the head of the Catholic Church from 20 June 1667 to his death in 1669.

Pontificate

Nothing remarkable occurred under Clement IX's short administration beyond the temporary adjustment of the disputes between the Holy See and those prelates of the Gallican Church who had refused to join in condemning the writings of Jansen. He was mediator during the 1668 peace of Aachen, in the wars of succession between France, Spain, England and the Netherlands.

As Pope, Clement IX continued his interest in the arts. He embellished the city of Rome with famous works commissioned to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, including the angels of Ponte Sant'Angelo and the colonnade of Saint Peter's Basilica. Somewhat unusually for Popes of the era, Clement IX did not have his name displayed on monuments he built. He also opened the first public opera house in Rome, and for the Carnival celebrations of 1668, commissioned Antonio Maria Abbatini of the Sistine Chapel Choir to set to music his free Italian translation of a Spanish religious drama La Baltasara. The production had sets designed by Bernini.

Clement IX worked to strengthen Venetian defences against the Turks on the island of Crete. However, he was unable to get wider support for this cause. At the end of October 1669 Clement IX fell ill after receiving news that the Venetian fortress of Candia in Crete had surrendered to the Turks. He died in Rome, allegedly of broken heart, in December of that year. His successor, Pope Clement X (1670–1676), built him an ornate tomb in Santa Maria Maggiore.

Early life

Born Giulio Rospigliosi to a noble family of Pistoia, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, he was a pupil of the Jesuits. After receiving his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Pisa, he taught theology there. Later Rospigliosi worked closely with Pope Urban VIII (1623–1644), a Barberini Pope, where he worked in the Papal diplomacy as nuncio to Spain, among other posts. He was also made vicar of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Rospigliosi was an accomplished man of letters, who wrote poetry, dramas and libretti, as well as what may be the first comic opera. He was also a patron of Nicolas Poussin, commissioning A Dance to the Music of Time from him and dictating its iconography.

During the reign of Pope Innocent X (1644–55), who was hostile to the Barberini and their adherents, Rospigliosi continued his appointment as papal nuncio to the court of Spain. After the accession of Pope Alexander VII (1655–67), he once again enjoyed papal favour. In 1657 he was named Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto and Secretary of State. After Alexander VII's death in 1667, an 18-day papal conclave concluded with Rospigliosi's election as Pope. Upon his succession, he took the name Clement IX.

Artistic works

Libretti

  • for Stefano Landi: Il Sant'Alessio (1632)
  • for Marco Marazzoli and Virgilio Mazzocchi: Chi soffre, speri (1639)
  • for Luigi Rossi: Il palazzo incantato (1642)
Living octopus

Living octopus

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