Blessed Pope Innocent XI

portrait of Blessed Pope Innocent XI, 1787, artist unknownAlso known as

  • Benedetto Odescalchi



Born to a pious patrician family; his brother became bishop of Novara, Italy. Benedetto felt an early call to the priesthood. Educated by Jesuits at Como, Italy. Apprentice at his family’s bank in Genoa, Italy when he was fifteen. Studied law at Rome and Naples in Italy, and received his Doctor of law degree in 1639. Protonotary apostolic to Pope Urban VIII. President of the Apostolic Chamber. Commissary at Ancona, Italy. Papal administrator of Macerata, Italy. Papal financial commissary in the Marches. Governor of Picena. Cardinaldeacon of Santi Cosma e Damiano on 6 March 1645. Prefect of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Grace on 22 January 1647. Cardinalpriest of Sant’ Onofrio. Papal legate to Ferrara, Italy, assigned to oversee famine relief on 15 June 1648. Bishop from Novara, Italy on 4 April 1650 to 6 March 1656. Noted for spending all the revenues of his see in charity to the poor and sick. Part of the conclave of 1655 that chose Pope Alexander VII. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals from 12 January 1660 to 24 January 1661. Papal legate to Ferrara in 1666. Part of the conclave of 1667 that chose Pope Clement IX. Part of the conclave of 16691670 that chose Pope Clement X; was nearly elected himself. Chosen 240th pope on 21 September 1676 after a two month inter-regnum, taking the name Innocent XI.

Stood against the meddling in Church affairs by King Louis XIV of France; Louis tried to get back in papal favour by persecuting Protestants, but Innocent immediately pleaded for a halt to the abuse. Fought nepotism in Church bureaucracy, worked to reduce the expenses of the Curia. Encouraged catechetical instruction. He disapproved of James II’s method of attempting to restore Catholicism in England, but it is not true that he supported William of Orange against the king. Fought Jansenism, Quietism, and the heresies promoted by Molinos. He encouraged daily Communion, insisted on a high standard of education in the seminaries, condemned gambling, immodesty in dress, and laxism in moral theology. Noted for his simple, pious life both before and after his ascension to the papacy.


Papal Ascension




MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Pope Innocent XI“. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 September 2021. Web. 17 January 2022. <>