March 13, 1615 – September 27, 1700
born Antonio Pignatelli
was Pope from 1691 to 1700
He was the successor of Pope Alexander VIII (1689–91).
was born in Spinazzola (current Puglia) to one of the most aristocratic families
of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which included many Viceroys, and ministers
to the crown, and was educated at the Jesuit college in Rome.
his twentieth year he became an official of the court of Pope Urban VIII
(1623–1644); under successive Popes he served as nuncio at Florence and Vienna
and in Poland; he served as inquisitor in Malta; and by Pope Innocent XI
(1676–1689) he was made cardinal in 1681 and archbishop of Naples. After the
conclave held after the death of Alexander VIII had gone on for five months he
was a compromise candidate between the cardinals of France and the Holy Roman
after his election on July 12, 1691, Innocent XII declared against the nepotism
which had too much and too long been one of the greatest scandals of the Papacy;
the bull Romanum decet Pontificem, issued in 1692, banned the curial office of
the Cardinal Nephew and prohibited Popes at all times from bestowing estates,
offices, or revenues on any relative; furthermore, only one relative, "if
otherwise suitable", was to be raised to the cardinalate. At the same time
he sought to check the simoniacal practices of the apostolic chamber, and in
connection with this to introduce a simpler and more economical manner of life
into his court. Innocent XII said that "the poor were his nephews",
comparing his public benificence to the nepotism of many predecessors.
XII introduced various reforms into the States of the Church, and for the better
administration of justice erected the Forum Innocentianum. In 1693 he compelled
the French bishops to retract the four propositions relating to the Gallican
Liberties which had been formulated by the assembly of 1682. In 1699, he decided
in favour of Jacques-Benigne Bossuet in that prelate's controversy with Fénelon
about the Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie Intérieure of the
latter. Innocent XII's pontificate contrasted with that of a series of
predecessors in having marked leanings towards France instead of Germany.
XII appears as one of the narrators in Robert Browning's long poem "The
Ring and the Book" (1869), based on the true story of the Pope's
intervention in a historical murder trial in Rome during his papacy.
benevolent, self-abnegating and pious Pope died on September 27, 1700 and was
succeeded by Pope Clement XI (1700-1721). His tomb at St. Peter's Basilica was
sculpted by Filippo della Valle.