(ALEXANDER VII) (1599-1667)
Born Fabio Chigi. Pope from 1655 until his death in 1667.
Papal decree dated 1658, issued in the name of Alexander to Francesco Soranzo, a member of the nobility and House of Soranzo. Young Francesco seeks permission to be ordained to the priesthood which was granted by this papal decree.
There were many distinguished members of the House of Soranzo…one of whom was Venetian ambassador to the Court of Spain (1598-1602) Phillip II and III. Others enjoyed successful careers as military leaders and magistrates.
Alexander enjoyed a meteoric ecclesiastical career. He was ordained a priest in 1634 and consecrated Bishop of Nardo one year later. He was later transferred in 1652 and appointed Bishop of Imola. Alexander served as vice papal legate and held several other diplomatic posts. Pope Innocent X made him papal secretary of state in 1651 and, in 1652, he was created a cardinal.
Early in his papacy, Alexander, who was seen as an anti-Nepotist at the time of his election, lived simply; later, however, he gave jobs to his relatives, who eventually took over his administration.
Alexander’s administration worked to support the Jesuits. However, the papacy’s relations with France were strained due to Alexander’s frictions with French diplomats.
Alexander was interested in architecture and supported various urban projects in Rome. He also wrote poetry and patronized artists who expanded the decoration of churches. His theological writings included discussions of heliocentrism and the Immaculate Conception.