Pope Alexander VIII

Pope Alexander VIII was the 241st leader of the Catholic Church and the eighth such individual to take the papal name of Alexander.

He ascended to the papacy in 1689, during a period rich in political and religious complexity.

His pontificate, though brief, was notable for its vigorous engagement with the intellectual and artistic movements of the Baroque era, as well as for its efforts to assert the power and influence of the Catholic Church in European affairs.

Life Before the Papacy.

The man who would become Pope Alexander VIII started life as Pietro Vito 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.

List of Events In The Life of Pope Alexander VIII (Pietro Vito Ottoboni )

22 Apr 1610Born
19 Feb 165241.8Elevated to Cardinal
11 Mar 165241.8InstalledCardinal-Priest of San Salvatore in Lauro
7 Dec 165444.6AppointedBishop of Brescia, Italy
27 Dec 165444.6Ordained BishopBishop of Brescia, Italy
15 Nov 166050.5AppointedCardinal-Priest of San Marco
9 Jun 166454.1ResignedBishop of Brescia, Italy
13 Sep 167767.3AppointedCardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere
8 Jan 168069.7AppointedCardinal-Priest of Santa Prassede
1 Dec 168171.6AppointedCardinal-Bishop of Sabina
15 Feb 168372.8AppointedCardinal-Bishop of Frascati
10 Nov 168777.5AppointedCardinal-Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina
6 Oct 168979.4ElectedPope (Roma, Italy)
16 Oct 168979.4InstalledPope (Roma, Italy)
1 Feb 169180.7DiedPope (Roma, Italy)

Papal Legacy.

17th century painting of Pope Alexander VIII

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.

Pope Alexander VIII Coat of Arms

Pope Alexander VIII Coat of Arms

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.

All Popes with the name “Alexander”

There has has been 7 Popes that have taken the name Alexander. Below are links to all of them. Also check out all of the other Popes the begin with the letter A.

Alexander I (St.) (#6) (105 – 115)
Alexander II (#157) (1061 – 1073)
Alexander III (#171) (1159 – 1181)
Alexander IV (#182) (1254 – 1261)
Alexander VI (#215) (1492 – 1503)
Alexander VII (#238) (1655 – 1667)
Alexander VIII (#242) (1689 – 1691)