Pope Urban VII: An Illuminated Manuscript from 1590

Pope Urban VII: An Illuminated Parchment Manuscript

This very beautiful document, an illuminated parchment manuscript, is 50 x 60 cm (20 x 24 inches). It is a printed text with additional handwritten passages and concerns an authorization for a religious order, the Company of the Blessed Sacrament, who are located in Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. It is dated July 17, 1590 and follows stipulations made by Pope Paul III in 1539.

The whole border is hand-illuminated showing Saints Peter and Paul, papal and cardinal arms of both Pope Paul III and Cardinal Castagna, the future Pope Urban VII. The rest is a lovely floral design.

Because the document is being produced under the authority of Pope Urban VII when he was Cardinal Castagna, it makes sense to show him under Urban rather than with Pope Sixtus V. Later the same year that the document was produced he would be elected pope and serve for only thirteen days–from September 15, 1590 – September 27, 1590–the shortest papacy in history. That fact alone makes this document not only of great interest but of remarkable rarity. –Father Kunst

Prof John Adams was kind enough to translate the following information:

Cardinal Castagna, who was elected Pope Urban VII in 1590, who was the Protector of the Order of Preachers (S. Maria sopra Minerva was their principal seat at the time; they have since moved to Santa Sabina),  seems to be reauthorizing the Confraternity of the Holy Spirit, which had been founded by Pope Paul III,  to carry on its activities.  The Confraternity ran a Hospital among other things. Their leaders were Francesco Corner, Bishop of Treviso (he became a cardinal in 1596); Anselmo Dandini, a Protonotary Apostolic; and Antonio Maccarano, a Roman Patrician (a civilian).  The whole text is legible (it is printed, after all)

Unfortunately, the best part of the subscription is gone.  All I can read from the photo is the word  “Adm(inistrat)or”.  Somebody must have cut out the Cardinal’s chirograph.

The illuminated manuscript is, indeed, a remarkable addition to the Papal Artifacts’ Collection.