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Pope Innocent X (6 May 1574 –7 January 1655), born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj (or Pamphili), was Pope from 1644 to 1655. Born in Romemarker of a family from Gubbiomarker in Umbria who had come to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Innocent IX, he graduated from the Collegio Romanomarker 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'Eusebiomarker, 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 much increased the temporal power of the Vatican. He was a great-great-great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI.

Papal nuncio

Pope Gregory XV (1621–23) sent him as nuncio to the court of Naplesmarker. Urban VIII sent him to accompany his nephew, Francesco Barberini, whom he had accredited as nuncio, first in France and then in Spain, where Pamphilj had the firsthand opportunities of forming an intense animosity towards Barberini. In reward of his labors, Giovanni Battista was made apostolic nuncio at the court of Philip IV of Spain (1621–65).



The conclave for the election of a successor to Urban VIII was long and stormy, lasting from 9 August to 15 September 1644. The French faction objected to the Spanish candidate, as an enemy of Jules Cardinal Mazarin – who guided French policy – but found Pamphilj an acceptable compromise, though he had served as legate to Spain. Mazarin himself, bearing the French veto of Cardinal Pamphilj, arrived too late, and the election was accomplished [4057].

Relations with France

Soon after his accession, Innocent X (as he chose to be called) initiated legal action against the Barberini for misappropriation of public funds, an easily demonstrated crime in 17th-century courts anywhere. Antonio and Francesco Barberini fled to Paris, where they found a powerful protector in Mazarin. Innocent X confiscated their property, and on 19 February 1646, issued a bull ordaining that all cardinals who might leave the Papal Statesmarker 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.

In 1653, Innocent X with the Cum Occasione papal bull condemned 5 propositions of Jansenius's Augustinus]], inspired by St. Augustine, as heretical and close to Lutherianism. This led to the formulary controversy, Blaise Pascal's writing of the Lettres Provinciales, and finally to the rasing 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.

Peace of Westphalia

Innocent X objected to the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia, against which his nuncio in his name vainly protested, and against which he issued the bull Zelo Domus Dei in November 1648, which was ignored by the European Powers. The most important of his doctrinal decisions was his condemnation of five disputed Jansenist propositions, May 31, 1653.

English Civil War

During the Civil War (1642–49) in England and Ireland, Innocent X strongly supported the independent Confederate Irelandmarker, over the objections of Mazarin and the 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 and military supplies including twenty thousand pounds of gunpowder with a very large sum of money. 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, with great bloodshed, and Rinuccini returned to Rome in 1649, after four fruitless years.

Olimpia Maidalchini

Olimpia Maidalchini

Olimpia Maidalchini, who had been married to his late brother, was accounted Innocent X's mistress because her influence with him in matters of promotion and politics was so complete, a state of affairs alluded to in the Encyclopaedia Britannia 9th edition (1880):

Death and legacy

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, whose princely rival among the College of Cardinals was Giovanni Battista Pamphilj. 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 Germanymarker, in which the Papacy was intricately involved, Cardinal Antonio commissioned a 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 rumors 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. Though when a few years later Pamphilj was raised to the Papacy, Antonio Barberini fled to France on the embezzlement charges that have been mentioned, the Capuchins held fast to their chapel altarpiece. Innocent was responsible for raising the then Colegio de Santo Tomas de la Nuestra Senora del Santissimo Rosario into the rank of a University and now the University of Santo Tomasmarker 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'smarker, erected Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumimarker in Piazza Navonamarker, the Pamphilj stronghold in Rome, and ordered the construction of Palazzo Nuovo at the Campidogliomarker.

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 Pamphiljmarker). 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 was succeeded by Pope Alexander VII.

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