There is no doubt that Martin Luther took exception to the Papacy on several issues, but who were these Popes that angered him so? What else were they known for? Were they in any way holy men of God? Here’s a brief look at the nine Popes who occupied the Chair of Peter during Luther’s lifetime.
This is a work in progress. Biographical info on each Pope will be added periodically. If you’d like to follow along, please follow me on Twitter using the link on the right menu bar.
Sixtus IV. (9 AUG 1471 – 12 AUG 1484)
- Formerly head of the Franciscan order
- One of the Renaissance Popes
- “…inaugurated a line of pontiffs who systematically secularized the papacy.” [Oxford-1, p. 250]
- Began restoration of Sistine Chapel (which is named for him)
- Founded the Vatican Library (idea conceived by Pope Nicholas V)
- Renowned as patron of the arts and learning, and as a champion for urban renewal in Rome
- Contributions to the (non-Papal) Spanish Inquisition of 1478:
- Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus allowed monarchs to choose local inquisitors
- Worked to suppress abuses
- Cum Praeexcelsa approved mass for Feast of Immaculate Conception and encouraged its celebration in the Roman Church (1478; Feast was extended to the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus, 1854)
- Canonized St. Bonaventure (1481)
- Formally annulled the decrees of the Council of Constance (Conciliarism reform movement)
- Spent heavily to back military and political campaigns
- Focused on financial betterment of his family
- Known for nepotism: six of thirty-four Cardinals appointed by Sixtus IV were nephews
More to come…
The information summarized above was derived from several primary sources: articles from the Catholic Encyclopedia (via New Advent), Wikipedia, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes [Oxford-1], and the History of the Popes From the Close of the Middle Ages by Ludwig von Pastor. Links and page numbers are included above.