Pope Clement X

Clement X was the 239th man to serve as pope and the 10th to choose Clement as his name. This article will try to distinguish him from the many other popes by showcasing his life, papal legacy and even give a few personal tidbits about the man at the end.

Life Before the Papacy.

Emilio was born to Lorenzo Altieri and Victoria Delfin. The Altieri were one of Rome’s oldest and most influential noble families and Victoria was Venetian nobility. Two of his maternal uncles had connections to the church; Flaminio was commander general of the Papal Armies and Gentile was bishop of Camerino. Emilio also had a brother, named Giambattista.

Altieri earned his doctorate in law from the Roman College in 1611. Upon finishing his education in 1623, he was made auditor to Giovanni Battista Lancellotti, nuncio of Poland. His proper ordination came in April 6th, 1624 and he would become the new bishop of Camerino after his uncle Gentile. Altieri would also become governor of Lorenta and the entirety of Umbria. Pope Urban VIII tasked him with protecting Ravenna from the ravages of the Po River.

During the papacy of Innocent X, he was made Naples’ papal nuncio, where he maintained the position for eight years. He is considered the source for the return to peace after Masaniello, a fisherman, led a revolt against Habspurg Spanish rule within Naples. His only work done under Pope Alexander VII was a secret mission in Poland.


Pope Clement IX made him the following positions:

  • Superintendent of the Papal Exchequer, meaning he had full control of the Church’s money.
  • Maestro di camera, basically the Clement IX‘s personal secretary.
  • Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.
  • Cardinal.


Papal Acts and Legacy.

  • He chose the name of Clement out of respect for Clement IX.
  • He allowed prelate-clerks of St. John Lateran to use the violet-colored band in their hats.
  • His pronounced age led him to increasingly rely upon Cardinal Paoluzzi-Altieri, his nephew, to run day-to-day operations.
  • He created 20 cardinals, including Pietro Francesco Orsini, the future Pope Benedict XIII.
  • He added a see to Canada, specifically within Quebec.


Quick Facts About Pope Clement X.

  • He was born in Rome, when it was part of the Papal States, on July 13th, 1590.
  • His birth name was Emilio Bonaventura Altieri.
  • He died on July 22nd, 1676.
  • The circumstances surrounding his death involved gout. The condition had remained untreated for so long and had grown so severe that it was what did him in. Gout is an arthritic condition where certain body acids crystallize within the joints.
  • His papacy began on April 29th, 1670.
  • His papacy ended on the day that he died.
  • His papal successor was Innocent XI.


Five Interesting Facts About Pope Clement X.

  1. When Altieri was made cardinal, Clement IX said that he would become his successor.
  2. He refused his nomination to pope several times, citing that he was nearing 80 years of age.
  3. In order to save his family name upon becoming pope, he adopted the Paoluzzi family and proposed that one of its members should marry Laura Altieri, the sole heiress to the family. Clement X offered the cardinalate to whomever wed his niece. He officiated the wedding of Laura and Cardinal Paoluzzi-Altieri.
  4. Gianlorenzo Bernini, an exemplary sculptor of the Baroque style, made one of his last pieces in honor of Clement X.
  5. Despite France’s King Louis XIV, he was dedicated to pursuing European peace.