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Pope Clement VIII

Papal Bull on Parchment - 1601

Original papal bull with beautiful illumination on parchment, issued in 1601 during the reign of Pope Clement VIII, untranslated, with twine attached for appending the lead papal bulla, or authenticating seal, used to indicate the importance of the document. In fine condition, approximately 12" (30cm) x 16" (40cm).

Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605), born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from January 1592 until his death in March 1605. He was from a Florentine family, and followed his father as a canon lawyer, becoming an Auditor (judge) of the Roman Rota, the highest ecclesiastical court constituted by the Holy See. Ippolito was ordained as a priest at the rather late age of 45, rising to Pope a mere 12 years later. He was an effective, if sometimes ruthless, administrator.

 Pope Clement VIII

The most remarkable event of Clement VIII's reign was the reconciliation to the Church of Henry IV of France (1589-1610), after long negotiations, carried on with great dexterity through Cardinal Arnaud d'Ossat, that resolved the complicated situation in France, withHenry embracing Catholicism in July 1593. After a pause to assess Henry IV's sincerity, braving Spanish displeasure, Pope Clement solemnly absolved Henry IV in the autumn of 1595, thus putting an end to the thirty years' religious war in France.

Though its origin is unknown, an significant anecdote about Pope Clement persists. Coffee is thought to have been first brewed by the Arabs, but its popularity may not have spread as quickly as it did were it not for Clement. Once coffee was discovered being consumed in Rome, Vatican priests believed that Satan had invented the drink as a substitute for wine, which Muslims were not permitted to drink. Since wine was used in such Christian practices as Holy Communion, priests determined that coffee was an evil tool of the Anti-Christ. In the face of such strong beliefs, Pope Clement VIII asked to try a cup before making a decision. When he did, he blessed the drink as a Christian beverage, resulting in massive imports of coffee to Italy and the Western world.