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Pope Clement X
Emilio Altieri Pope Clement X was born in Rome on the 15th of July, 1590, Son of Lorenzo Altieri and Victoria Deiphini, a Venetian lady. The Altieri family belonged to the Ancient Roman Nobility and had enjoyed the highest consideration at Rome for several centuries, they had occasionally contracted alliances with the Colonnas and the Orsinis. During Earlier Popes 'Emilio Altieri' had held many important offices and had been entrusted with several delicate missions.
After finishing his studies, Emilio was named in 1623, auditor of John Baptist Lancellotti, in the nunciature of Poland. On his return to Rome, he was named Bishop of Camerino, and then Governor of Loretto and of all Umbria. Urban VIII gave him charge of the works designed to protect the territory of Ravenna from the unruly Po.
Innocent X Sent him as nuncio to Naples, where he remained eight years. He is credited with the re-establishment of peace after the stormy days of Masaniello. Alexander VII confided to him a mission to Poland.
Clement IX named him Superintendent of the Papal Exchequer. (In charge of the Churches Finances), and in 1667 his maestro di camera, he was made Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. Just before the death of Pope, Clement IX made him a Cardinal. He was then about seventy-nine years of age; and Clement, when making him a member of the Sacred College, said to him: "You will be our successor."
After the funeral of Clement IX sixty-two electors entered into conclave on the 20th of December, 1669. Forty-two votes were necessary, and warm discussion prevailed for four months; Cardinal John Nicholas Conti was supported by twenty-two votes; Cardinal Rospigliosi, nephew of Clement IX, had thirty, or, as some say, thirty-three, with two at the accesso, so that he needed only seven more votes to gain the tiara. Cardinal Cerri obtained twenty-three votes.
At length the cardinals agreed to resorted to the old expedient of electing a cardinal of advanced years, and proposed Cardinal Altieri, an octogenarian, whose long life had been spent in the service of the Church, and whom Clement IX, on the eve of his death, had raised to the dignity of the purple. The reason a prelate of such transcendent merits received the cardinalate so late in life seems to have been that he had waived his claims to the elevation in favour of an older brother.
On the 29th of April, 1670, the papacy was offered to him by fifty-nine Cardinals present at the election–only two (2) being against him. He, however, objected because of his age, for he was eighty, and exclaimed, "I am too old to bear such a burden." Pointing to Cardinal Brancacci, Altieri said he was the Cardinal whom they ought to elect. He persisted in refusing, protesting that he no longer had strength or memory; but he was crowned on the 11th of May. He was dragged from his bed screaming "I don't Want to be the Pope!!!" with tears he accepted, and out of gratitude to his benefactor, by ten years his junior, he assumed the name of Clement X.
On his accession to the papacy, Emilio Altieri Pope Clement X in order to save the Altieri name from extinction, all but one of the male scions had chosen the ecclesiastical career. Adopted the Paluzzi family, and proposed that One of the Paluzzi should marry Laura Caterina Altieri, the sole heiress of the family, and in exchange for "Adopting" the Alteri sirname he would make one of the Paluzzi a Cardinal. Following the Wedding, which he officiated at, he appointed his relative by marriage Cardinal Paluzzi-Altieri, the uncle of Laura's new husband, the Office of Cardinal Nephew, to take on the duties which he was prevented from doing by age. The Main activity was to invest the Churches money, and with advancing years gradually entrusted to him the management of affairs, to such an extent that the biting Romans said he had reserved to himself only the episcopal functions of benedicere et sanctificare, resigning in favour of the Cardinal the administrative duties of regere et gubernare.
On the 8th of June he took possession of Saint John Lateran. On the 11th of June he confirmed the Minor Observantines in the Holy Land in the privileges and indulgences granted to those who visit the holy places, according to the decree of Popes Alexander VII and Clement IX. In the same month he granted to the prelate-clerks of the chamber the use of the violet-colored band around their hats.
Like all the pontiffs, Clement advised the Christian princes to love each other, and to prove it by an entire confidence, by generous measures, and by a prudent and scrupulous conduct. It was especially between Spain and France that the pope desired to witness a renewal of feelings of good understanding.
On the 15th of March, 1671, the pope published an edict by which he declared that a noble might be a merchant without loss of his nobility, provided always that he did not sell by retail.On the 12th of April, 1671, Clement canonized five new saints:
(1) Saint Gaetan of Thiene, founder of the Clerks of Divine Providence, better known by their other title of Theatines.
(2) Saint Francis Borgia, fourth Duke of Gandia, Marquis of Lombay, and viceroy of Catalonia, born in 1510. He took the habit of the Jesuits in 1547, and became general and one of the most illustrious ornaments of that religious order.
(3) Saint Philip Benizzo, a noble Florentine, a religious of the order of Servants of Mary, of which he was the reviver, and not, as has been stated by some, the founder. Leo X beatified him on the 24th of January, 1516.
(4) Saint Louis Beltran, or Bertrand, a Spaniard, of the family of Saint Vincent Ferrer, and like him a Dominican.
(5) Saint Rose, of the third order of Saint Dominic, born at Lima, in Peru, on the 20th of April, 1586; died on the 24th of August, 1617. Saint Rose, beatified by Clement IX, was the first American saint.
Clement in 1671 confirmed the exemptions granted by Gregory XIII to the German College at Rome; and then, on the 16th of October, 1672, he ordered the pupils to swear that at the close of their studies they would set out for Germany without a day's delay.
On the 13th of January, 1672, Clement regulated the formalities to be observed in removing the relics of Saints from Sacred Cemeteries. No one was to remove such relics without the permission of the cardinal-vicar. They were not to be exposed for the veneration of the faithful, unless previously examined by the same cardinal. The principal relics of the martyr–that is to say, the head, the legs, the arms, and the part in which they suffered–were to be exposed only in the churches, and they were not to be given to private persons, but only to princes and high prelates; and even to them but rarely, lest the too great profusion should deprive relics of the respect which they ought to inspire. The Holy Father decreed severe penalties against all who gave a relic any name but that given by the cardinal-vicar. The pain of excommunication was pronounced against all who should demand any sum whatever for sealed and authentic relics. These decrees, and others made by preceding popes, were confirmed by Clement XI, on the 19th of February, 1704. Besides beatifying Pope Pius V, Francis Solano, and John of the Cross, all subsequently canonized by Clement XI and Benedict XIII.
Clement X, on the 24th of November, 1673, beatified nineteen martyrs of Gorcum, imprisoned at Gorcum, Holland, and put to death on the 9th of July, 1572, in hatred of the Catholic faith, the primacy of the pope, the Roman Church, and the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Of the nineteen Gorcum martyrs, eleven were Franciscan priests; Peter Ascanius and Cornelius Vican, laymen; one Dominican, two Premonstratensian monks, a regular canon of Saint Augustine, and four secular parish priests.
Clement, seeing the results of the apostolic labors of the early French missionaries in Canada, the number of the faithful, and the wide field of labor, resolved to give the Church an independent organization, and erected a see at Quebec, the bishop to depend directly on the Holy See–a provision which, in the designs of Providence, secured its permanence after the country passed into the hands of England. The first bishop was Monsignor Laval de Montmorency.
In 1673 there arrived at Rome ambassadors from the Grand Duke of Muscovy, John Basilowitz. He solicited from the Pope the title of Czar, which, however, he had already conferred upon himself. At the same time it could not be forgotten that he Gave strong Financial aid to King John Sobieski of Poland in their fight against the Turkish Turksinvaders. But Paul Nanes, a Scotchman, who was the ambassador, could not obtain the grant or sanction of that title, though he was received with great magnificence and had many precious gifts to carry back to his master. The Grand Duke of Muscovy did not profess the Catholic faith in such a manner as to give any assurance of his intentions, and the King of Poland had looked upon the embassy with displeasure.
Meantime Rome had reason to fear trouble. Cardinal Altieri, who was at the head of the government, determined to increase the revenues, and he established a new tax of three percent upon all merchandise entering the city, including even goods for cardinals and ambassadors. AIthough the government complained that ambassadors had abused their privilege, the diplomatic corps showed discontent that they were not expressly exempted in the new tax law.
Another edict confirmed the first, and ordered the confiscation without distinction of all goods that did not pay the new tax. The cardinals at first complained, though with moderation. But the ambassadors didn't speak the Popes language.
The cardinal nephew maintained that the pope, within his own State, might make what rules he pleased. Then the ambassadors of the empire, of France, Spain, and Venice, sent their secretaries to demand an audience of the Pope. The chief chamberlain replied that the Pope was engaged that day. And for four days in succession the chamberlain gave the same answer to the same applicants. The pope, learning at length what had occurred, declared that he had given no such order. The ambassadors then sent their secretaries to ask an audience of Cardinal Altieri. He not only refused to admit them, but closed his doors and increased the guard at the pontifical palace, so that the offence could go no further. Subsequently the cardinal nephew wrote to the nuncios who resided in the courts of Europe, stating that the excesses committed by the ambassadors had induced the pope to publish the edict. The ambassadors, on the contrary, assured their sovereigns that the accusation was a pretext.
The conflict lasted for above a year; and Clement, who loved peace, at length referred the matter to a congregation. Some time after, Cardinal Altieri declared that he had not Intended to comprise the ambassadors among those for whom the edict was intended, and that the pope had never contemplated subjecting them to it.
In the year 1675 Clement celebrated the fourteenth jubilee of the holy year. Notwithstanding his age, he visited the churches, regretting that the gout prevented him from making that holy visit more than five times. He went twelve times to Trinity hospital to wash the feet of the pilgrims, and after the ceremony gave them liberal alms.
However, Rome made some complaints, and said that, though Clement was Pope in name, Cardinal Altieri was Pope in fact.
On the 22nd of July, 1676, the agonies of the gout became so violent that the pope died under them. He was eighty-six years old, and had governed the Church six years, two months, and twenty-four days. He was interred at the Vatican.
He laboured to preserve the peace of Europe even though he was menaced by the ambition of Louis XIV France, an imperious monarch over ecclesiastical matters (The Struggle was concerning the régale, or revenues of vacant dioceses and abbeys). Which resulted in continued tension with FranceHe decorated the bridge of Sant' Angelo with the ten statues of angels in Carrara marble still to be seen there.
To Clement X we owe the two beautiful fountains which adorn the Piazza of St. Peter's church near the tribune, where a monument has been erected to his memory.
See also: other popes named Clement.
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Clement X (source of much of the above text)
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