Pope Alexander VIII

Pope Alexander VIII (22 April 1610 – 1 February 1691), born Pietro Vito Ottoboni, was Pope from 6 October 1689 to his death in 1691. He is to date the last pope to take the pontifical name of "Alexander" upon his election to the papacy.


Alexander VIII
Bishop of Rome
Alexander VIII 1
Papacy began6 October 1689
Papacy ended1 February 1691
PredecessorInnocent XI
SuccessorInnocent XII
Ordinationc. 1630
Consecration27 December 1654
by Marcantonio Bragadin
Created cardinal19 February 1652
by Innocent X
Personal details
Birth namePietro Vito Ottoboni
Born22 April 1610
Venice, Republic of Venice
Died1 February 1691 (aged 80)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Other popes named Alexander


Early life

Pietro Vito Ottoboni was born in 1610 of a noble Venetian family,[1] and was the youngest of nine children of Vittoria Tornielli and Marco Ottoboni, grand chancellor of the Republic of Venice.[2]

His early studies were made with marked brilliance at the University of Padua where, in 1627, he earned a doctorate in canon and civil law. Ottoboni went to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII[2] and served as the Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura, and later served as the governor of the cities Terni, Rieti, Citta di Castello and Spoleto. He also served as the auditor of the Sacred Roman Rota.

Episcopate and cardinalate

Pope Innocent X appointed him to the cardinalate and in 1652 at the request of the Venetian government and he was made the Cardinal-Priest of San Salvatore in Lauro. He was appointed as Bishop of Brescia in 1654 and later received episcopal consecration in the church of San Marco in Rome. He would spend a quiet decade in his diocese. He opted to be Cardinal-Priest of San Marco in 1660 and resigned as Bishop of Brescia in 1664. Ottoboni also opted to become Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere in 1677 and later as Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prassede in 1680. He later became the Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina in 1681 and then to Frascati in 1683. His last swap was that of Porto e Santa Rufina in 1687.

Ottoboni was also the Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals from 1687 to his pontifical election.


Papal election

Papal styles of
Pope Alexander VIII
C o a Alessandro VIII
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone
Italy Papal States 1689-I Quadrupla Scudo d'Oro
Pope Alexander VIII depicted on a gold quadruple Italian scudo from 1689. Saints Peter and Paul on the reverse. Engraved by Antonio Travani, a goldsmith and medalist in Rome.[3]

The ambassador of King Louis XIV of France (1643–1715) succeeded in procuring his election on 6 October 1689, as the successor to Pope Innocent XI (1676–89); nevertheless, after months of negotiation Alexander VIII finally condemned the declaration made in 1682 by the French clergy concerning the liberties of the Gallican church.[1]

He chose the pontifical name of "Alexander VIII" in gratitude to Cardinal Flavio Chigi, the nephew of Pope Alexander VII, who also had helped support his candidacy.[4] Ottoboni was crowned as pontiff on 16 October 1689 by the protodeacon Cardinal Francesco Maidalchini and took possession of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on 28 October 1689.

Old but of a strong constitution, Alexander VIII was said to be an able diplomat. During his brief pontificate he managed to destroy most of his predecessor's good work. All the money saved by Innocent XI was spent on enriching the Ottoboni family and to a cardinal he said: "I have no time to lose; for me the day is almost done!"[5]

Alexander VIII was almost an octogenarian when elected to the papacy, which lasted only sixteen months, during which time little of importance was done. Louis XIV, whose political situation was now critical, profited by the peaceful dispositions of the new pope, restored Avignon to him, and renounced the long-abused right of asylum for the French Embassy.[2]

Financial controversies

Charities on a large scale and unbounded nepotism exhausted the papal treasury,[1] reversing the policies of his predecessor. Among the various nominations, his 22-year-old grandnephew Pietro was made cardinal and vice-chancellor of the Church,[6][1] nephew Marco, son of his brother Agostino, was made inspector of naval fortifications and Duke of Fiano, and nephew Antonio, another of Agostino's children, was made general of the church. His nephew Giovanni Rubin was made secretary of state and bishop of Vicenza. Out of compassion for the poor of the impoverished Papal States, he sought to help them by reducing taxes. But this same generous nature led him to bestow on his relations the riches they were eager to accumulate; on their behalf, and to the discredit of his pontificate, he revived sinecure offices which had been suppressed by Innocent XI.[2] He bought the books and manuscripts of Queen Christina of Sweden for the Vatican Library.[1] Alexander VIII assisted his native Venice by generous subsidies in the war against the Turks,[2] as well as sending seven galleys and 2,000 infantry for the campaign in Albania.

Tomb of Alexander VIII, St. Peter's Basilica

In 1690 he condemned the doctrines of the so-called philosophical sin, taught in the Jesuit schools.[1] He also held three consistories that saw 14 new cardinals elevated.

Beatifications and canonizations

Alexander VIII confirmed the cultus of Kinga of Poland on 11 June 1690 which served as the beatification. On 16 October 1690, he canonized several saints: Ss. Pascal Baylon, Lorenzo Giustiniani, John of Sahagun, John of God and John of Capistrano.


The pope created 14 cardinals in three consistories and elevated individuals such as his grandnephew Pietro Ottoboni in a restoration of nepotism that had not been seen in his predecessor's reign.

Death and burial

Alexander VIII died on 1 February 1691. His grandiose tomb in St. Peter's was commissioned by his grandnephew, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, and designed by Count Arrigo di San Martino. The bas-relief at the base and the flanking figures (1704) were sculpted by Angelo de' Rossi, while the bronze statue of the pope was cast by Giuseppe Bertosi.[7]

Episcopal succession

Pope Alexander VIII was the principal consecrator of:[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alexander (popes)" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 556.
  2. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Alexander VIII" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
  3. ^ Forrer, L. (1916). Biographical Dictionary of Medallists. 6. Spink & Son, LTD. p. 129.
  4. ^ Olszewski E. page 13.
  5. ^ "Pope Alexander VIII: Proceedings of the Conclave that led to his election". Pickle Publishing. 2005. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  6. ^ Olszewski E. page 5.
  7. ^ Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667-1740) and the Vatican tomb of Pope Alexander VIII, by Edward J. Olsezewski (2004), American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
  8. ^ "Pope Alexander VIII - Pietro Vito Ottoboni" Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved June 27, 2017
  • Rendina, Claudio (1984). I papi. Storia e segreti. Rome: Newton Compton.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Innocent XI
6 October 1689 – 1 February 1691
Succeeded by
Innocent XII
1689 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1689 was convened after the death of Pope Innocent XI. It led to the election of Pietro Vito Ottoboni as Pope Alexander VIII. The conclave saw previous factions join together because they lacked numerical strength, and saw the rise of the zelanti as a political force in the election of the next pope. Ottoboni was eventually unanimously elected with the consent of the secular monarchs, becoming the first Venetian in over 200 years to be elected pope.

Angelo de Rossi

Angelo de Rossi (1671 – June 12, 1715) was an Italian sculptor. Born in Genoa, he was apprenticed to Filippo Parodi in 1680; Parodi's influence is clear in his first pre-1689 work, a Small Satyr in marble. Nearly unavoidably, he was also influenced by the work of Pierre Puget. He went to Rome in 1688, remaining there until his death; a 1692 relief of Three Men in the Fiery Furnace won first prize in all three sculpture classes at the Accademia di San Luca.

In 1699, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni appointed de' Rossi court sculptor in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, Rome, and put him in charge of making the Tomb of Pope Alexander VIII, Ottoboni's granduncle, in St. Peter's Basilica (in parts finished after de' Rossi's death). Another important work is the apostle Saint James the Less in St. John Lateran, Rome (1705–11). The commemorative Bust of Arcangelo Corelli (died 1713) in the Protomoteca Capitolina of the Palazzo del Senatore of the Campidoglio, Rome, is also attributed to de' Rossi.

De' Rossi was said to be close friends with Pierre Le Gros.

With a promising career ahead, Angelo de' Rossi died prematurely in Rome.

Antonio Giustiniani (archbishop of Naxos)

Antonio Giustiniani" (17 June 1663 – March 1730) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Naxos (1701–1730), Bishop of Syros and Milos (1694–1701), and Vicar Apostolic of Izmir (1690–1694).

Cardinals created by Alexander VIII

Pope Alexander VIII (r. 1689–1691) created 14 cardinals in three consistories.

Charles Montecatini

Charles Montecatini (1615–1699) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Titular Archbishop of Chalcedon (1690–1699).

Eleonoro Pacello

Eleonoro Pacello (9 January 1643 – May 1695) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Pula (1689–1695).

Francesco Picarelli

Francesco Picarelli (3 March 1631 – December 1708) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Narni (1690–1708).

García Felipe de Legazpi y Velasco Altamirano y Albornoz

García Felipe de Legazpi y Velasco Altamirano y Albornoz (February 15, 1643 – March 6, 1706) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as the Bishop of Tlaxcala (1704–1706), Bishop of Michoacán (1701–1704), and Bishop of Durango (1691–1701).

Georgius Parchich

Georgius Parchich (Latin: Georgius Parchich, Italian: Giorgio Parchich, Croatian: Juraj Parčić; 1658–1703) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Nona (1690–1703).

Leone Strozzi (archbishop)

Leone Strozzi, O.S.B. (1638–1703) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Archbishop of Florence (1700–1703) and Bishop of Pistoia e Prato (1690–1700).

Michelangelo Mattei

Michelangelo Mattei or Michael Angelus Matthaeius (8 May 1628 – 22 December 1699) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Titular Patriarch of Antioch (1693–1699) and Titular Archbishop of Hadrianopolis in Haemimonto (1689–1693).

Michele de Bologna

Michele de Bologna, C.R. (1647–1731) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Archbishop of Amalfi (1701–1731) and Bishop of Isernia (1690–1698).

Miguel Bayot

Miguel Bayot (July 10, 1644 – August 28, 1700) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as the Bishop of Cebu (1697–1700).

Odoardo Cibo

Odoardo Cibo or Odoardo Cybo (6 December 1619 – 6 April 1705) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Titular Patriarch of Constantinople (1689–1705), Apostolic Nuncio to Switzerland (1670–1679), and Titular Archbishop of Seleucia in Isauria (1670–1689).

Petrus Draghi Bartoli

Petrus Draghi Bartoli (23 July 1646 – 13 April 1695) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Titular Patriarch of Alexandria (1690–1695).

Pietro Ottoboni (cardinal)

Pietro Ottoboni (2 July 1667 – 29 February 1740) was an Italian cardinal and grandnephew of Pope Alexander VIII, who was also born Pietro Ottoboni. He is remembered especially as a great patron of music and art. Ottoboni was the last person to hold the curial office of Cardinal-nephew, which was abolished by Alexander's successor, Pope Innocent XII, in 1692. Ottoboni '"loved pomp, prodigality and sensual pleasure, but was in the same time kind, ready to serve and charitable".

Pietro Vecchia (bishop)

Pietro Vecchia, O.S.B. (8 January 1628 – July 1695) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Molfetta (1691–1695) and Bishop of Andria (1690–1691).

Raimondo Ferretti

Raimondo Ferretti (1650–1719) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Archbishop of Ravenna (1692–1719) and Bishop of Recanati e Loreto (1690–1692).

Stefan Antonin Mdzewski

Stefan Antonin Mdzewski, O.P. (1653–1718) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Auxiliary Bishop of Gniezno (1699–1718) and Auxiliary Bishop of Lutsk (1690-1699).

1st–4th centuries
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
5th–8th centuries
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
Frankish Papacy (756–857)
9th–12th centuries
Papal selection before 1059
Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
Crescentii era (974–1012)
Tusculan Papacy (1012–1044/1048)
Imperial Papacy (1048–1257)
13th–16th centuries
Viterbo (1257–1281)
Orvieto (1262–1297)
Perugia (1228–1304)
Avignon Papacy (1309–1378)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Renaissance Papacy (1417–1534)
Reformation Papacy (1534–1585)
Baroque Papacy (1585–1689)
17th–20th centuries
Age of Enlightenment (c. 1640-1740)
Revolutionary Papacy (1775–1848)
Roman Question (1870–1929)
Vatican City (1929–present)
21st century
History of the papacy
Bible and
By country
of the faithful
Early Church
Late antiquity
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
19th century
20th century
21st century

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.