Pope Urban VII

Pope Urban VII (Latin: Urbanus VII; 4 August 1521 – 27 September 1590), born Giovanni Battista Castagna, was Pope from 15 to 27 September 1590. His twelve-day papacy was the shortest in history.


Urban VII
Bishop of Rome
Urban VII
Papacy began15 September 1590
Papacy ended27 September 1590
PredecessorSixtus V
SuccessorGregory XIV
Ordination30 March 1553
by Filippo Archinto
Consecration4 April 1553
by Girolamo Verallo
Created cardinal12 December 1583
by Pope Gregory XIII
Personal details
Birth nameGiovanni Battista Castagna
Born4 August 1521
Rome, Papal States
Died27 September 1590 (aged 69)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of armsUrban VII's coat of arms
Other popes named Urban
Papal styles of
Pope Urban VII
C o a Urbano VII
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone


Early life

Giovanni Battista Castagna was born in Rome in 1521 to a noble family as the son of Cosimo Castagna of Genoa and Costanza Ricci Giacobazzi of Rome.[1]

Castagna studied in universities all across Italy and obtained a doctorate in civil law and canon law when he finished his studies at the University of Bologna. Soon after he became auditor of his uncle, Cardinal Girolamo Verallo, whom he accompanied as datary on a papal legation to France.[1] He served as a constitutional lawyer and entered the Roman Curia during the pontificate of Pope Julius III as the Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura. Castagna was chosen to be the new Archbishop of Rossano on 1 March 1553, and he would quickly receive all the minor and major orders culminating in his ordination to the priesthood on 30 March 1553 in Rome. He then received episcopal consecration a month after at the home of Cardinal Verallo.

He served as the Governor of Fano from 1555 to 1559 and later served as the Governor of Perugia and Umbria from 1559 to 1560. During the reign of Pius IV he settled satisfactorily a long-standing boundary dispute between the inhabitants of Terni and Spoleto.[1] Castagna would later participate in the Council of Trent from 1562 to 1563 and served as the president of several conciliar congregations. He was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain in 1565 and served there until 1572, resigning his post from his archdiocese a year later. He also served as the Governor of Bologna from 1576 to 1577. Among other positions, he was the Apostolic Nuncio to Venice from 1573 to 1577 and served also as the Papal Legate to Flanders and Cologne from 1578 to 1580.

Pope Gregory XIII elevated him to the cardinalate on 12 December 1583 and he was appointed as the Cardinal-Priest of San Marcello.



After the death of Pope Sixtus V a conclave was convoked to elect a successor. Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany had been appointed a cardinal at the age of fourteen, but was never ordained to the priesthood. At the age of thirty-eight, he resigned the cardinalate upon the death of his older brother, Francesco in 1587, in order to succeed to the title. (There were suspicions that Francisco and his wife died of arsenic poisoning after having dined at Fernando's Villa Medici, although one story has Fernando as the intended target of his sister-in-law.) Ferdinando's foreign policy attempted to free Tuscany from Spanish domination. He was consequently opposed to the election of any candidate supported by Spain. He persuaded Cardinal Alessandro Peretti di Montalto, grand-nephew of Sixtus V to switch his support from Cardinal Marco Antonio Colonna, which brought the support of the younger cardinals appointed by the late Sixtus.[2]

Castagna, a seasoned diplomat of moderation and proven rectitude was elected as pope on 15 September 1590 and selected the pontifical name of "Urban VII".[2]


Urban VII's short passage in office gave rise to the world's first known public smoking ban, as he threatened to excommunicate anyone who "took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose".[3]

Urban VII was known for his charity to the poor. He subsidized Roman bakers so they could sell bread under cost, and restricted the spending on luxury items for members of his court. He also subsidized public works projects throughout the Papal States. Urban VII was strictly against nepotism and he forbade it within the Roman Curia.[4]


Urban VII died on 27 September 1590, shortly before midnight, of malaria in Rome. He was buried in the Vatican. The funeral oration was delivered by Pompeo Ugonio. His remains were later transferred to the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva on 21 September 1606.

His estate was valued at 30,000 scudi and it was bequeathed to the Archconfraternity of the Annunciation to use as dowries for poor young girls.

Menorah (Temple) מנורת בית המקדש Temple vessels Vatican מדלייה שיצא עי הוותיקן בשנת 1590 בעת מינוי האפיפיור אורבנוס השביעיאורבנוס
Reverse of 1590 coin in honor of Urban VII with menorah and the legend
(Let your light so shine - Matt. 5:16)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Ott, Michael. "Pope Urban VII." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 20 December 2018 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b Pirie, Valérie Pirie. The Triple Crown: An Account of the Papal Conclaves, London. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1935
  3. ^ "Public smoking ban: Europe on the move" (PDF). European Society of Cardiology. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Pope Urban VII". Saints SQPN. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2015.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Sixtus V
15–27 September 1590
Succeeded by
Gregory XIV

Year 1521 (MDXXI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


1590 (MDXC)

was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar, the 1590th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 590th year of the 2nd millennium, the 90th year of the 16th century, and the 1st year of the 1590s decade. As of the start of 1590, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Ambrogio Buonvicino

Ambrogio Buonvicino (circa 1552 - 1622) was an Italian sculptor of the late-Renaissance or Mannerist period, active mainly in Rome.

He was born in Milan, and trained under Pietro Antichi. He moved to Rome around 1581. Among his works are bas-reliefs above the main door to St Peter's Basilica (Donation of the Keys to St Peter); the monument to Pope Urban VII at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva; and for the Monuments to Popes Clement VIII and Paul V in the Paoline Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore.

Apostolic Nunciature to Cologne

The Apostolic Nunciature to Cologne (also Italian: Nunziatura di Germania inferiore, i.e. Nunciature of Lower Germany) was an ecclesiastical office of the Roman Catholic Church established in 1584. The nuncios were accredited to the Archbishop-Electorates of Cologne, Mainz and Trier. It was a diplomatic post of the Holy See, whose representative was called the Apostolic Nuncio at Cologne, one of the states of the Holy Roman Empire. The office of the nunciature was located in Cologne until 1795, when France occupied the city. The last nuncio, officiating until 1804, resided in Augsburg, while the Archbishop-Electorate had been dissolved in 1803.

Two nuncios and one apostolic delegate at Cologne later became popes, to wit Pope Urban VII, Pope Alexander VII and Pope Leo XII.

Bartolomeo Coriolano

Bartolommeo Coriolano (1590 or 1599–1676, pronunciation ko-ree-o-lă'no and sometimes spelled Coriolanus) was an Italian engraver during the Baroque period. His father, Cristoforo Coriolano, and brother, Giovanni Battista Coriolano were also woodblock printers, although there is some doubt over the actual relationship between Cristoforo and Bartolommeo Coriolano. Coriolano had a daughter, Teresa Maria Coriolano, who later became a painter and engraver.

Coriolano trained under the painter Guido Reni and modeled many of his woodblock prints on the work of his teacher, as was common. Coriolano was a traditional woodblock printer who followed the German style in printing. He was successful and popular, though not an innovator in the technique of woodblock printing. Eventually, he came to the attention of Pope Urban VII who granted Coriolano knighthood, as a "Roman count", and a pension. Coriolano's works are the most celebrated of the works produced by the Coriolano family.

Bernardino Gagliardi

Bernardino Gagliardi (Città di Castello, 1609 - Perugia, 1660) was an Italian painter.

Catherine of Palma

Saint Catherine of Palma (1533–1574) was a Spanish nun canonised in 1930. She is also known as Catalina Thomás, Caterina Tomàs i Gallard, and Catherine or Catalina Thomas or Tomas.She was born 1 May 1533 at Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain, in a peasant family. She worked as a servant in a household in Palma where she learned to read and embroider, before joining the Canonnesses of St Augustine at the convent of St Mary Magdalene in Palma. She was visited by devils and angels, and went into ecstasy for the last years of her life. She died 5 April 1574 at Palma, Mallorca, of natural causes. As of 1904 her hat, thimble, and other relics were kept, and her body preserved in a marble sarcophagus, in the convent of St Mary Magdalene, Palma.After her death she was celebrated locally as a saint for half a century until a decree of Pope Urban VII forbade the worship of unrecognised saints. Local people appealed to Rome and eventually she was beatified on 12 August 1792 by Pope Pius VI and canonised on 22 June 1930 by Pope Pius XI.The house in Valldemossa where she was born, Carrer Rectoria 5, has become a shrine, and many houses in the village bear a plaque in her honour.She is considered the patron saint of Mallorca, although other sources apply this title to Saint Sebastian, Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez or the Virgen de Lluc of the Santuari de Lluc.

She is commemorated on 1 April, and on 27 and 28 July in her home town of Valldemossa.

Convento del Carmen Calzado (Madrid)

The Convento del Carmen Calzado (English for Convent of the Calced Carmel) was a convent in the Order of Mount Carmel . It was located in the area currently occupied by the Plaza del Carmen in Madrid. This convent was founded in 1573. The Spanish confiscation during late-19th century left only the Parish church del Carmen and the ensanche (widening) of the area of Plaza del Carmen (which takes its name from this convent). One of the ten streets leading to the Puerta del Sol, and passing next to the facade of the parish church, is called Calle del Carmen. The site of the convent was dedicated to the Frontón Central, which would become the Cine Madrid.

Francesco Sforza (cardinal)

Francesco Sforza (1562–1624) was an Italian cardinal and bishop.

Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga

Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga (1540–1591) was an Italian Roman Catholic cardinal.

Girolamo Mattei

Girolamo Mattei (8 February 1547 - 8 December 1603) was an Italian Cardinal from the House of Mattei.

Girolamo Verallo

Girolamo Verallo (1497–1555) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Marco Antonio Colonna (16th-century cardinal)

Marco Antonio Colonna (1523–1597) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Pope Urban

Pope Urban may refer to one of several people:

Pope Urban I, pope c. 222–230, a Saint

Pope Urban II, pope 1088–1099, the Blessed Pope Urban

Pope Urban III, pope 1185–1187

Pope Urban IV, pope 1261–1264

Pope Urban V, pope 1362–1370, also the Blessed Pope Urban

Pope Urban VI, pope 1378–1389

Pope Urban VII, pope 1590, had the shortest recognized papal reign

Pope Urban VIII, pope 1623–1644

Portrait of a Gentleman (Mellin)

Portrait of a Gentleman (or sometimes The Tuscan General Alessandro dal Borro) is a c. 1645 oil-on-canvas painting usually attributed to the French Baroque artist Charles Mellin. It is believed, but not established for certain, to have been commissioned by Alessandro dal Borro (1600–56), a Tuscan general, who fought with Mattias de' Medici in the Castro war against Pope Urban VII. Proud of his career and character, presumably dal Borro asked that the painter not shy away from depicting his stout build. As such, the work is highly regarded for its amusing geniality. It is noted for being frank and striking, and as one of the earliest honest depictions of obesity.The portrait shows the man in full profile, standing next to a stone pillar, looking to his right, with a banner at his feet, bearing a coat of arms thought to be of Barberini family. He has thick red hair, a double chin and round, pudgy cheeks.It has been attributed to a number of artists over the centuries, including Velázquez, Bernini and Andrea Sacchi. Today it is generally thought to be the work of Mellin, although there is no definitive evidence, and is in the collection of the Staatliche Museen, in Berlin.

Scipione Lancelotti

Scipione Lancelotti (1527–1598) was an Italian who became a cardinal within the Roman Catholic Church.

September 1590 papal conclave

The papal conclave of September 1590 elected Giovanni Battista Castagna as Pope Urban VII.

There were sixty-seven cardinals attending: seven were French, three Spanish, two Germans, two Poles, and the rest Italian.

Cardinals attending:

Giovanni Antonio Serbelloni, (aged 71), Suburbicarian Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, Dean of the Sacred College

Alfonso Gesualdo (aged 50), Suburbicarian Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina

Innico d'Avalos d'Aragona (aged 55 or 56), Suburbicarian Bishop of Frascati

Marco Antonio Colonna, Suburbicarian Bishop of Palestrina

Tolomeo Gallio (aged 63), Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina

Gabriele Paleotti (aged 68), Suburbicarian Bishop of Albano

Girolamo Simoncelli (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of Santa Prisca; Administrator of Orvieto.

Markus Sitticus von Hohenems Altemps (aged 57), nephew of Pius IV, Cardinal Priest of S. Giorgio in Velabro

Nicolas de Pellevé (aged 75), Cardinal Priest of S. Prassede (died 1594) Archbishop of Sens.

Ludovico Madruzzo (aged 58), nephew of Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzi, Cardinal Priest of S. Onofrio (d. 1600) Bishop of Trent.

Michele Bonelli, OP (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina, Cardinal Vicar of Rome, grand nephew of Pius V,

Antonio Carafa (aged 52), Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni e Paolo

Giulio Antonio Santorio (aged 57), Cardinal Priest of S. Bartolommeo all' Isola

Girolamo Rusticucci (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna, former Bishop of SinigagliaVicar General of Rome

Gian Girolamo Albani (aged 86), Cardinal Priest of San Giovanni a Porta Latina

Pedro de Deza (aged 70), Cardinal Priest of San Girolamo dei Croati; professor of law at Salamanca. Grand Inquisitor

Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Alessio. Knight of St. John of Jerusalem

Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti (aged 71), Cardinal Priest of Santi Quattro Coronati

Giovanni Battista Castagna (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello. Doctor in utroque iure, Bologna elected as Pope Urban VII

Alessandro de' Medici (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni e Paolo

Niccolò Sfondrati (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia Bishop of Cremona

Giulio Canani (aged 66), Cardinal Priest of S. Anastasia Bishop of Modena

Agostino Valier (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Marco; Bishop of Verona

Antonmaria Salviati (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Pace

Vincenzo Lauro (aged 67) Cardinal Priest of S. Clemente, Bishop of Mondovi

Simeone Tagliavia d'Aragonia(aged 40), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria degli Angeli

Filippo Spinola (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Sabina

Scipione Lancelotti (aged 63), Cardinal Priest of S. Salvatore in Lauro

Giovanni Battista Castrucci (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Aracoeli, Archbishop of Chieti

Federico Cornaro (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano Rotondo, Bishop of Padua

Domenico Pinello (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Crisogono, professor of law at Padua; Archpriest of S. Maria Maggiore

Ippolito Aldobrandini (aged 54), Cardinal Priest of S. Pancrazio; Major Penitentiary

Girolamo della Rovere (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in vincoli, Archbishop of Turin

Girolamo Bernerio, OP (aged 50), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria sopra Minerva, Bishop of Ascoli Piceno

Antonio Maria Galli (37), Cardinal Priest of S. Agnese in Agone, Bishop of Perugia

Costanzo da Sarnano, OFM Conv. (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio

Benedetto Giustiniani (aged 36), Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello

William Allen (aged 58), Cardinal Priest of SS. Silvestro e Martino

Scipione Gonzaga (aged 47), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria del Popolo, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Antonmaria Sauli (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano al Monte Celio, former Bishop of Genoa

Giovanni Palotta (aged 42), Cardinal Priest of S. Matteo in Merulana, former Archbishop of Cosenza, Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica Papal Datary

Juan Hurtado de Mendoza (aged 42), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere

Giovan Francesco Morosini (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Via, Bishop of Brescia

Mariano Pierbenedetti (aged 52) Cardinal Priest of SS. Marcellino e Pietro

Gregorio Petrocchini (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Agostino

Francesco Sforza di Santa Fiora (aged 28), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata, Grand-nephew of Pope Paul III.

Alessandro Damasceni Peretti (aged 19), Cardinal Deacon of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, grand-nephew of Sixtus V

Girolamo Mattei (aged 43), Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio

Ascanio Colonna (aged 30), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin. Knight of Malta

Federico Borromeo (aged 26), Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano

Agostino Cusani (aged 48), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Panisperna

Francesco Maria Del Monte (aged 41), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Domnica

Guido Pepoli (aged 30), Cardinal Deacon of San Cosma e Damiano

September 27

September 27 is the 270th day of the year (271st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 95 days remain until the end of the year.

Simeone Tagliavia d'Aragonia

Simeone Tagliavia d'Aragonia (1550–1604) was a Sicilian cardinal and bishop.

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