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Pope Clement IX

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(GIULIO ROSPIGLIOSI)

Born 28 January, 1600, at Pistoja, of an ancient family originally from Lombardy ; elected 20 June, 1667; d. at Rome, 9 December, 1669. He made a brilliant course of studies at the Roman Seminary, and the University of Pisa, where he received the doctorate in his twenty-third year and was made professor of philosophy. His talents and virtuous life brought him rapid promotion in the Roman Court at a period when Tuscan influence under Tuscan pontiffs was everywhere predominant. He enjoyed the special favour of Urban VIII , like himself fond of literature and poetry, and was made titular Archbishop of Tarsus and sent as nuncio to the Spanish Court. He lived in retirement during the pontificate of Innocent X, who disliked the Barberini and their adherents, but was recalled to office by Alexander VII and by him appointed secretary of state and Cardinal-Priest of the Title of San Sisto (1657). Ten years later, one month after the death of Alexander, Cardinal Rospigliosi was elected to the papacy by the unanimous vote of the Sacred College. He was the idol of the Romans, not so much for his erudition and application to business, as for his extreme charity and his affability towards great and small. He increased the goodwill of his subjects by buying off the monopolist who had secured the macinato , or privilege of selling grain, and as his predecessor had collected the money for the purpose, Clement had the decree published in the name of Alexander VII . Two days each week he occupied a confessional in St. Peter's church and heard any one who wished to confess to him. He frequently visited the hospitals, and was lavish in his alms to the poor. In an age of nepotism, he did little or nothing to advance or enrich his family. In his aversion to notoriety, he refused to permit his name to be placed on the buildings erected during his reign. On 15 April, 1668, he declared blessed, Rose of Lima , the first American saint. On 28 April, 1669, he solemnly canonized S. Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi and St. Peter of Alcantara. He reorganized the Church in Portugal, after that nation had achieved its independence from Spain. By a mild compromise in the affair of French Jansenism , known as the Clementine Peace, ( Pax Clementina ), he procured a lull in the storm, which, unfortunately, owing to the insincerity of the sectaries, was but temporary. He brought about, as arbiter, the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle between France and Spain, and gravely admonished Louis XIV against the aggressive career upon which he was setting forth. By strict economy he brought the papal finances into good order, and was able to furnish material aid to Venice for the defence of Crete, then besieged by the Turks. Had the European powers listened to his exhortations, that important island would not have been lost to Christendom. The news of its fall, after a gallant resistance of twenty years, hastened the pope's death. He died after a pontificate of two years, five months, and nineteen days. He ordered his remains to be buried under the pavement of Santa Maria Maggiore, with the simple inscription Clementis IX, Cineres , but his successor, Clement X, erected in his honour the sumptuous monument which stands at the right-hand side of the nave, near the door. The death of the beloved pontiff was long lamented by the Romans, who considered him, if not the greatest, at least the most amiable of the popes.

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