Pope Innocent XI
In 1741, Pope Benedict XIV introduced Innocent’s beatification but French influence caused it to be suspended. Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) announced his beatification in 1956. His feast day is August 12th.
The Oxford Dictionary of Popes states that Historians of all schools recognize him as the outstanding 17th century pope.
Innocent’s pontificate is said to be the greatest of the 17th century. His personal life was exemplary, marked by austerity and frugality, qualities he brought to the papacy. His initial efforts went towards reducing the expenses of the Curia. When he was elected, the annual deficit had reached 170,000 scudi but within a few years papal income was in excess of expenditures. Not only did he not practice nepotism but he also passed ordinances to encourage the cardinals to follow his lead. This measure in itself aided the balancing of—indeed the surplus of–the budget. He went so far as to prohibit cardinals from keeping horses and carriages and liveried servants which he considered inappropriate to a priestly life style. To his friend, Cardinal Cibo, he assigned the role of Secretary of State and together they attacked all the abuses and scandals at court. His reform continued by both declaring and personally manifesting his zeal as a reformer of manners and as a corrector of administrative abuses. Both clergy and laity were exhorted to have higher moral standards. He closed theaters in Rome because of his suspicion of vice and immorality there. Opera houses were also closed for a time. A series of measures known as the Innocentine laws were enacted that lowered the fees of tribunals to cleanse them of any appearance of corruption.
He promoted policies of solidarity offering extensive assistance to the poor, support for childhood education and physical and spiritual assistance to the ill. In his apostolate he fought for the simple preaching of the Gospel, the teaching of the catechism, and the observance of the rules by the clergy. He promoted more frequent reception of the Eucharist.
The Oxford Dictionary of Popes states that, Historians of all schools recognize him as the outstanding 17th century pope. Although the Romans found his austerity oppressive in his lifetime, they soon began venerating him after his death.
His body today lies with the bodies of Saint Pius X and Saint John XXIII at the Vatican. The face and hands are lined with silver coating. His monument (1697-1704) in Saint Peter’s was designed and sculpted by Pierre-Étienne Monnot.
Papal Artifacts honors the memory and gift of his life to our Church.
Blessed Innocent XI, pray for us!