Innocent XI.

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Innocent XI by Jacob Ferdinand Voet , 1670–80

Innocent XI. (* May 19, 1611 in Como ; † August 12, 1689 in Rome ), born Benedetto Odescalchi , was Pope of the Catholic Church from 1676 to 1689 . He is venerated as a blessed .


Coat of arms of Innocent XI. at the former seminar in Pallanza

Innocent XI. came from a wealthy merchant family and was brought up by the Jesuits in Como. In 1637 he began studying law and theology in Rome and later moved to Naples .

Pope Urban VIII appointed him Apostolic Protonotary . On May 6, 1645, he appointed Pope Innocent X to Cardinal Deacon (hence the papal name ) with the titular church of Santi Cosma e Damiano . Three years later, in 1648, the Pope sent him to Ferrara as a legate . In 1650 Benedetto Odescalchi was appointed Bishop of Novara . His ascetic way of life and especially his charity and care earned him the nickname father of the poor .


On September 21, 1676 he was elected Pope; at the conclave of 1669/1670 his election had failed due to French resistance .

Birthplace of Pope Innocent XI. in Como

The first thing he did was to impose rigorous austerity measures on the Papal States, which very soon put the finances of the curia, which was burdened by the expenditures of his predecessors and heavily indebted, in order. Innocent XI was involved in promoting art . uninterested; The strictly moral and ascetic Pope even found the fine arts offensive. He detested all kinds of nepotism and simony , so he fought against the arbitrary allocation of church offices. He made Alderano Cibo cardinal of state secretary , but he did not like Simony like Innocent XI. refused in principle.

Turkish Wars

Innocent XI was likewise. a champion for keeping the catholic faith pure. The main problems he had to deal with in his pontificate were the defense against the Turks in Europe and the relationship between the Papal States and France . During his entire pontificate he tried to win the Christian princes of Europe for a holy league in the fight against the Turks. On March 31, 1683 he succeeded in persuading the Polish King Jan Sobieski and Emperor Leopold I to form a defensive alliance. Innocent XI. supported the alliance and the fight against the Turks with 1.5 million guilders. On September 12, 1683, Vienna was liberated from the siege by the Turks . The Turkish army was defeated and pushed far back into Hungary . His work in the defense against the Turks later earned him the nickname "Defender of the Christian Occident" by historians. To celebrate this victory, he introduced the feast day of Mary's name for the entire world church.

Relationship with France

Glass coffin of Pope Innocent XI. in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome until April 2011

The dispute with France was sparked by the question of the law of regalia . The King of France claimed the right to administer the benefices and the episcopal income at the time of the vacancy of every French diocese . In three papal briefs , Innocent XI. the French King Louis XIV to withdraw this edict . But Louis XIV defied his demands. In February 1683 he even convened a general assembly of the French clergy , which approved his law of regalia . Innocent XI. then refused to recognize all candidates for bishopric appointed by Louis XIV, and 35 dioceses remained orphaned in France. Louis XIV canceled the Edict of Nantes in October 1685 . The repeal of the edict made all Calvinist religious practice illegal throughout France. The cruel action by Louis XIV against the Huguenots that followed pushed Innocent XI. even more from Louis XIV. When filling the Archdiocese of Cologne , Innocent XI. hence Joseph Clemens of Bavaria and not Ludwig XIV. Preferred candidate Wilhelm Egon von Fürstenberg . The dispute between Innocent XI. and Louis XIV reached its peak in 1689. Innocent XI. recalled the papal nuncio from Paris . Louis XIV threatened the invasion of the Papal States, and Innocent XI. threatened the excommunication of the French king. Tensions persisted until his death that same year.


On October 7, 1956 Innocent XI. of Pius XII. beatified . This was the penultimate beatification of a Pope, before John Paul II on September 3, 2000 at the same time the initiators of both Vatican Councils, namely Pius IX. and John XXIII. included in the list of the blessed. John Paul II himself was on May 1, 2011 by Benedict XVI. Beatified and reburied in the Sebastian Chapel of St. Peter. The coffin of Innocent XI. was transferred shortly before this beatification inside St. Peter's Church in the left aisle under the Altar of the Transfiguration.

Innocent XI. Today is considered by many historians as an exemplary figure of the papacy, which has always distinguished itself as one of the most important and worthy popes of his time through his ascetic demeanor, his moral way of life, his conscientiousness and his firmness in faith.

See also


Web links

Commons : Innocent XI.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. John Norman Davidson Kelly: Reclam's Lexicon of the Popes. 2nd Edition. Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 2005, p. 305.
  2. Ecumenical Church Lexicon , accessed on May 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Saints on Catholic Encyclopedia , accessed May 7, 2011.
  4. ^ Message from the Vatican Radio dated April 9, 2011 , accessed on May 6, 2011; Description of the reburial on , accessed on May 6, 2011.
predecessor Office successor
Clement X. Pope
Alexander VIII
Antonio Tornielli Bishop of Novara
Giulio Odescalchi