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Pope Urban VIII

The Taxing Pope

Pope Urban VIII 235th Roman Pontiff from 1623 to 1644

235th Pontiff (1623-1644)


Trevi Fountain
Copyright 1996 Philip Greenspun

(Trevi Fountain was financed by a wine tax)

Matteo Barberini was born in Florence, Italy, in 1568 into a wealthy merchant family.  He became nuncio to Paris where he developed a lifelong affinity for France for which he was criticized during the Thirty Years' War.

Pope Urban VIII was a diplomat, poet, and musician.  His patronage of the arts restored many of Rome's buildings as well as introduced the baroque style of architecture to Rome.

Pope Urban VIII commissioned Bernini to redesign Saint Peter's Square from a square to the ellipse it is today.  Further, Pope Urban VIII consecreated Saint Peter's Basilica on November 18, 1626, after more than 100 years of reconstruction.

Pope Urban VIII's papacy is marred by outrageous nepotism in his restoration projects.  He severely overtaxed the populace to pay for his family and friends' work on these projects.

Although Pope Urban VIII was an early admirer and supporter of Galileo, Pope Urban VIII oversaw Galileo's trial on heresy charges at the Inquisition because Galileo defended Copernicus' theory that the earth orbited the sun contradicting Saint Thomas Acquinas who was greatly influenced by Aristotle.  Pope John Paul II rehabilitated Galileo in 1982.

Pope Urban VIII died July 29, 1644.

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