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Pope Alexander Vii

POPE ALEXANDER VII (Fabio Chigi), pope from 1655 to 1667, was born at Siena on the 13th of February 1599. He was successively inquisitor at Malta, vice-legate at Ferrara and nuncio in Cologne (1639-1651). Though expected to take part in the negotiations which led in 1648 to the peace of Westphalia, he refused to deliberate with heretics, and protested against the treaties when completed. Innocent X. subsequently made him cardinal secretary of state. When Innocent died, Chigi, the candidate favoured by Spain, was elected pope on the 7th of April 1655. The conclave believed he was strongly opposed to the nepotism then prevalent. In the first year of his reign Alexander VII. forbade his relations even to visit Rome; but in 1656 he gave them the best-paid civil and ecclesiastical offices, also palaces and princely estates. Alexander disliked business of state, preferring literature and philosophy; a collection of his Latin poems appeared at Paris in 1656 under the title Philomathi Labores Juveniles. He also encouraged architecture, and in particular constructed the beautiful colonnade in the piazza of St Peter's. He favoured the Jesuits, especially in their conflict with the Jansenists, forbade in 1661 the translation of the Roman Missal into French, and in 1665 canonized Francis of Sales. His pontificate was marked by protracted controversies with France and Portugal. He died on the 22nd of May 1667. (W. W. R.*)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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