Alexander VIII was the 241st leader of the Catholic Church and the eighth such individual to take the papal name of Alexander. This article will try to distinguish him from his many predecessors and successors by highlighting the specifics and details of his life and papacy.
Life Before the Papacy.
The man who would become Pope Alexander VIII started life as Pietro Ottoboni, the youngest of nine children resulting from the noble union of Vittoria Tornielli and Venice’s grand chancellor Marco Ottoboni. Pietro was a gifted scholar and soon gained accolades while studying canon and civil law at the University of Padua, which he gained doctorates in during the year 1627.
It was during the papacy of Pope Urban VIII that he served in the position of Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura. Ottoboni would later become the governor of Terni, Reiti, Citta di Castello and Spoleto. He would also fill the position of the Sacred Roman Rota’s auditor.
Pope Innocent X was the man whom appointed him cardinal, specifically Cardinal-Priest of San Salvatore in Lauro. He would later become the Bishop of Brescia in 1654. After resigning from the later Bishopric in 1664, Ottoboni would later become the Cardinal-Priest or Cardinal-Bishop of several other regions:
- Santa Maria in Trastevere in 1677.
- Santa Prassede in 1680.
- Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina in 1681.
- Frascati in 1683.
- Concluding as the Cardinal-Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina in 1687.
Ottoboni also served as the College of Cardinals’ Vice-Dean from his time as Porto e Santa Rufina’s Cardinal Bishop until his election as Innocent X’s successor.
Most of the Church’s coffers during Alexander VIII’s papacy were redistributed into his family’s pockets and he was fond of promoting his family members to positions of power within the Church.
- His grandnephew, also named Pietro, was appointed cardinal and vice-chancellor of the Church.
- His nephew Marco, by way of his brother Agostino, was appointed the Duke of Fiano and made inspector of naval fortifications.
- Another of his nephews, also sired by Agostino, was made the church’s general.
- Giovanni Rubin, yet another nephew, was given the bishropric of Vicenza and made its secretary of state.
While he was also quite taken by the plight of the Papal States’ poor, he passed policies that would lower taxes. While this seemed like quite the beneficent action, Alexander VIII was also fond of giving riches to his relatives. He also bolstered the Venetian military in its efforts of fighting the Turks through money and sending ships and men to its campaign in Albania.
Quick Facts About Alexander VIII.
- He was born Venice on April 22nd, 1610.
- His given name was Pietro Vito Ottoboni.
- He died on February 1st, 1691.
- Considering he was an octogenarian, someone who has lived for eight decades, at the time of his election to Pope, it seems he died from the complications of old age.
- His papacy began on October 6th, 1689.
- His papacy ended with his life.
- His papal successor was Innocent XII.
Five Interesting Facts About Alexander VIII.
- Currently, he remains the last pope to have taken the name of Alexander.
- He condemned philosophical sin, which is sin against reason but not against God.
- He elevated 14 cardinals.
- He opposed French Gallicanism, a political movement that sought to limit the pope’s authority.
- He also opposed Jansenism, another belief that questioned the Church’s role in delivering salvation to those seeking redemption. He felt it was too close to Protestantism for his tastes.