Pope Urban VII

Pope Urban VII was born Giovanni Battista Castagna on the 4th of August 1521, in Rome, Italy. Giovanni studied in various universities in Italy. He pursued both civil and canon law at Bologna where he graduated as a doctor. Pope Urban VII was the successor of Pope Sixtus V.

Giovanni was appointed archbishop of Rossano on the1st of March 1553 by Julius III and was ordained as a priest on the 30th of March of the same year. On the 4th of April 1553, he was consecrated as bishop by Cardinal Verallo. In 1555, Giovanni was sent to Fano as governor by Julius III; he also served as governor of Perugia during the reign of Paul IV. Giovanni worked with different leaders and all the assignments he was given made him a flexible leader that could work in any environment and under all sorts of circumstances.

He served as papal nuncio at the Court of Philip II for seven years from the year 1565; he was Gregory XIII’s representative at the peace conference between Philip II and the United Provinces. He was later appointed Consulter of the Holy Office and the Ecclesiastical State. He was made cardinal priest by Gregory XIII on the 12th  of December 1583 and was appointed as the legate of Bologna on the 8th of December 1584. He became Inquisitor-General of the Holy See on the 19th of November 1586 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V. in all of the positions he served, Giovanni was very influential and many people liked the way in which he fulfilled his duties.

Following the death of Pope Sixtus V on 27th August 1590, 54 cardinals met at the Vatican for the conclave election on the 7th of September 1590. Giovanni was elected as the new pope and the news was received with great joy by many. He chose the name Urban and with the experience in various administrative offices which he had gained in his previous positions he was determined to provide the maximum for the Roman Catholic Church.

The first act of Pope Urban VII was to have a list made with all the poor people in Rome. He wanted to help the poor people by providing them with their basic needs. He went ahead and paid debts for all cardinals in the Ecclesiastical State. Pope Urban VII also ordered the bakers of Rome to make larger loafs of bread and sell them at lower prices and he covered their loses with money from his own pockets. The pope also cut the papal expenses incredibly and used most of the funds for alleviating poverty in Rome.

Pope Urban VII did not practice nepotism like several other popes; he never appointed any of his family members or relatives in any of the church positions. The pope also supported the public smoking ban and he sent a warning message to people who used tobacco in any form.

But a few days after his election, Pope Urban VII became seriously sick. A few days later, Pope Urban VII died; even before the papal coronation could take place. He died on 27th September 1590 and was buried in the Vatican Basilica. He reigned for only 13 days making him among the shortest serving popes.