Innocent XI was the 240th leader of the Catholic Church and the 11th among them to choose the papal name of Innocent. Considering there have been quite a few popes over the centuries, this guide has been written to make Innocent XI stand out a bit more from the crowd. Below, you will read a brief view of what he did before becoming pope, what he did during his time, learn his stat sheet and even discover a few interesting things about him.
Life Before the Papacy.
Benedetto was born the son of minor nobility. His father was Livio Odescalchi, his mother was Paola Castelli Giovanelli and he had six siblings. Despite being from nobility, the Odescalchi clan wanted to get into business. in 1619, one of his brothers established a bank with the help of three Genoan uncles and the venture managed to become a successful money-lender. Once he’d finished studying his language, the teenaged Benedetto relocated to Genoa to apprentice under the family banking business.
When Livio died in 1626, Benedetto took to learning the humanities from the local Jesuit college, then moved to Genoa. At some point between 1632 and 1636, he decided to relocate to Rome, then again to Naples, so that he could focus on learning civil law. This mission earned him several civil titles, including the role of Macerata’s governor.
March 6th, 1645 would see Pope Innocent X appoint Odscalchi to Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Cosma e Damiano, following by serving as legate to Ferrara. It was during his tenure as legate that he did his best to aid its famine-stricken people, with a papal introduction describing Benedetto as “father of the poor.” Five years later, Odescalchi would become Novara’s bishop, where he used all of his funds to aid the sick and poor. He even resigned from his bishopric, with permission, to consult with various congregations.
Papal Acts and Legacy.
- He abolished all sinecures, titles granted power and status while demanding little to nothing to be done by the title’s holder. This would likely be a domino effect of purging nepotism from the Church.
- He cancelled all theaters and opera.
- He demanded the Curia live simply and successfully managed the Church’s budget by enforcing this.
- He banned Jewish money-lending, likely in a move beneficial to his family’s bank, though the enactment was twice delayed.
- The bulk of his papacy involved dealing with the French crown.
Quick Facts about Pope Innocent XI.
- He was born in the duchy of Milan, specifically Como, Lombardy; on May 16th, 1611.
- Prior to becoming pope, he was named Benedetto Odescalchi.
- He died August 12th, 1689.
- His final months were filled with failing health and illness. After performing three operations on his leg to manage fluid build up in July and early August, he remained bedridden. His final day entailed loss of speech and difficulty breathing. Ultimately, it is believed that kidney stones, an ailment he had been suffering from since 1682, were to blame for his death.
- His papacy began on September 21st, 1676.
- His papacy ended on the day that he died.
- His papal successor was Alexander VIII.
Five Interesting Facts About Pope Innocent XI.
- Budapest refers to him as the “Savior of Hungary.”
- His papal motto, “Avarus non implebitur,” cautions that greedy men will never be satisfied.
- 1630 would see him nearly succumb to the plague that claimed his mother’s life.
- He banned women from singing on stage, regardless of venue.
- He was beatified as a saint in 1956.