Pope Paul V

Pope Paul V

Pope Paul V


      Following the very brief reign of Pope Leo XI, who was pope for 27 days, rival factions again consumed the conclave, forcing the cardinals to settle on a compromise candidate, the relatively young Camillo Borghese.  Camillo, whose family was originally from Siena, was born in Rome on September 17, 1550, and following in his father’s footsteps, studied law at Perugia and Padua.  Graduating with a doctorate, he served in the curia and was later dispatched on a diplomatic mission to Spain.  His success there led to his promotion to cardinal in 1596.  In 1603 Borghese was appointed vicar of Rome and inquisitor.  At the conclave of 1605 his election was regarded as somewhat of a surprise due to his age and general obscurity outside of Rome.  Taking the name Paul V, he proved to be hard-working, charitable, and keenly dedicated to reform.

He was 55 years old at the time of his election.

      Paul’s own conception of the pope’s supremacy, however, was considerably outdated, even for Catholic countries; consequently, he immediate became embroiled in a confrontation with the defiant Venetians, who had subjected tow clerics to trial by secular courts.  In spite of the outraged pontiff’s protests, Venice refused to submit, and on April 17, 1606, Paul sternly placed the city under an interdict.  Despite the sentence of excommunication that Paul imposed on the Venetian senate, they stood firm, ignored the pope’s order, and further, expelled the Jesuits, Capuchins, and Theatines who dared to defy them.  Heated arguments flared from both sides as a paper war ensued; but when it appeared as if an armed conflict might be mounted, France intervened, and through Henry IV’s tactful negotiation, peace was achieved.

            Paul had less satisfaction in England, where James I had ordered all Catholics to swear an oath of allegiance which disallowed a pontiff’s right to depose a prince.  Paul quickly condemned the oath and forbade the Catholics to submit, yet their archpriest, George Blackwell, encouraged just the opposite.  Although Blackwell was replaced in 1608, the damage had been done and the English Catholics stood divided.  In 1618 the Thirty Years’ War between Catholics and Protestants erupted in Germany, and although Paul initially respected the Peace of Augsburg, which had been established in 1555, he late gave Emperor Ferdinand II generous financial support.

            Paul did much to promote missionary work and reinforced discipline among the religious orders.  In 1610 he canonized St. Charles Borromeo and Francesca Romana, as well as beatified Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Philip Neri, and Teresa of Avila.  He strictly enforced, without exception, episcopal residence and in 1612 approved the Congregation of the Oratory.

            A patron of the arts as well, he commissioned Carlo Maderno to complete the construction of St. Peter’s and fortunately for scholars initiated a collection of secret archives in the Vatican.  Paul was, however, overly fond of his relatives and flagrantly indulged in nepotism; as a result, his family gained enormous wealth and influence.  Having suffered two strokes within three months, Paul died on January 28, 1621.

He is buried in St. Mary Major in Rome.

  • Date August 14, 1983
  • Tags Pope Paul V, Popes