Antonio Pignatelli (Innocent XII) elected Pope
Pope Innocent XII (13 March 1615 – 27 September 1700), born Antonio Pignatelli was Pope from 1691 to 1700.
He was the successor of Pope Alexander VIII (1689–91).
He was born in Spinazzola (current Puglia) to one of the most aristocratic families of the Kingdom of Naples, which included many Viceroys, and ministers to the crown, and was educated at the Jesuit college in Rome.
In his twentieth year he became an official of the court of Pope Urban VIII (1623–1644); under successive Popes he served as nuncio at Florence and Vienna and in Poland; he served as inquisitor in Malta; and by Pope Innocent XI (1676–1689) he was created him Cardinal-Priest of S. Pancrazio in 1681 and archbishop of Naples. After the conclave held after the death of Alexander VIII had gone on for five months he was a compromise candidate between the cardinals of France and the Holy Roman Empire.
Immediately after his election on 12 July 1691, Innocent XII declared against the nepotism which had too much and too long been one of the greatest scandals of the Papacy; the bull Romanum decet Pontificem, issued in 1692, banned the curial office of the Cardinal Nephew and prohibited Popes at all times from bestowing estates, offices, or revenues on any relative; furthermore, only one relative, "if otherwise suitable", was to be raised to the cardinalate. At the same time he sought to check the simoniacal practices of the apostolic chamber, and in connection with this to introduce a simpler and more economical manner of life into his court. Innocent XII said that "the poor were his nephews", comparing his public benificence to the nepotism of many predecessors.
Innocent XII introduced various reforms into the States of the Church, and for the better administration of justice erected the Forum Innocentianum. In 1693 he compelled the French bishops to retract the four propositions relating to the Gallican Liberties which had been formulated by the assembly of 1682. In 1699, he decided in favour of Jacques-Benigne Bossuet in that prelate's controversy with Fénelon about the Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie Intérieure of the latter. Innocent XII's pontificate contrasted with that of a series of predecessors in having marked leanings towards France instead of Germany.
Innocent XII appears as one of the narrators in Robert Browning's long poem "The Ring and the Book" (1869), based on the true story of the Pope's intervention in a historical murder trial in Rome during his papacy.
This benevolent, self-abnegating and pious Pope died on September 27, 1700 and was succeeded by Pope Clement XI (1700–1721). His tomb at St. Peter's Basilica was sculpted by Filippo della Valle.
Born at Spinazzolo near Naples, 13 March, 1615; died at Rome, 27 September, 1700. Re entered the Roman Curia at the age of twenty and was successively made vice-legate at Urbino, inquisitor in Malta, and Governor of Perugia. Under Innocent X he became nuncio in Tuscany, and Alexander VII sent him as nuncio to Poland, where he regulated the disturbed ecclesiastical affairs and united the Armenians with Rome. In 1668 he became nuncio at Vienna. Innocent XI created him Cardinal-Priest of San Pancrazio fuori le mura and Bishop of Faenza on 1 September, 1682, then Archbishop of Naples in 1687. After the death of Alexander VIII the cardinals entered the conclave at Rome on 11 February, 1691, but neither the French nor the Spanish-Hapsburg faction among the cardinals could carry its candidate. A compromise resulted in the election of Cardinal Pignatelli on 12 July, 1691. In his Bull "Romanum decet Pontificem" (22 June, 1692), which was subscribed and sworn to by the cardinals, he decreed that in the future no pope should be permitted to bestow the cardinalate on more than one of his kinsmen. Towards the poor, whom he called his nephews, he was extremely charitable; he turned part of the Lateran into a hospital for the needy, erected numerous charitable and educational institutions, and completed the large court-house "Curia Innocenziana", which now serves as the Italian House of Commons (Camera dei Deputati). In 1693 he induced King Louis XIV of France to repeal the "Declaration of the French Clergy", which had been adopted in 1682. The bishops who had taken part in the "Declaration" sent a written recantation to Rome, whereupon the pope sent his Bull of confirmation to those bishops from whom it had been withheld. In 1696 he repeated his predecessor's condemnation of Jansenism and in his Brief "Cum alias" (12 March, 1699) he condemned twenty-three semi-Quietistic propositions contained in Fénelon's "Maximes". Towards the end of his pontificate his relations with Emperor Leopold I became somewhat strained, owing especially to Count Martinitz, the imperial ambassador at Rome, who still insisted on the "right of asylum", which had been abolished by Innocent XI. It was greatly due to the arrogance of Martinitz that Innocent XII advised King Charles II of Spain to make a Frenchman, the Duke of Anjou, his testamentary successor, an act which led to the "War of the Spanish Succession".