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1590- Pope Urban VII dies

September 27, 2022

Pope Urban VII (1521-1590, born Giovanni Battista Castagna) reigned for only 13 days, ending on September 27, 1590. He passed away from malaria before being consecrated.


Castagna was a highly educated man, having studied at several Italian universities and finally obtaining a doctorate in Civil and Canon Law at the University of Bologna. He served as a governor of various cities before being elevated to the cardinalate.


Castagna was elected as Pope Urban VII on September 15, 1590.

His oversight included the world's first public smoking ban, wherein he proclaimed that anyone who consumed tobacco in the form of chewing, inhaling or sniffing in or in the porchway of a church would be promptly excommunicated.

During his tenure, Pope Urban VII also became known for his contributions to charity. These included the subsidization of Roman bakers so they could sell their goods under market price points and the restriction of the purchase of luxury goods for members of his court. He also invested in public works projects throughout the Papal States of Lazio (which included much of Rome), Marche, Umbria and Romagna, as well as parts of Emilia. His rule, therefore, as a concomitant secular and religious leader, was, while very short-lived, also very expansive.


Pope Urban VII died of malaria in Rome on September 27th, 1590. He was buried in the Vatican. His estate went entirely to the support of poor girls.


Castagna's reign was a celebration for the people of Italy. His vehement opposition to nepotism was also a prime virtue that elevated him in the Church's and the public's eye for years to come. His prudence and acumen in administrative affairs also made a significant mark in the history of the papacy.


  1. Kathy

    Thank you for your reverence to Giovanista (Giovanni) Castagna (Pope Urban VII)
    He is honored by his family…even to this day!
    Kathleen Castagna Loghan

  2. Heidi Racht

    This is a remarkable biography for someone who was in office a mere 13 days. I especially like the anti-tobacco ban… wondered if it worked!

  3. Kenneth McHowell

    His role as Pope is vastly different from the Popes we have had in the last hundred years. Cardinals were married during the years Pope Urban ruled and had been that for years before and after him. Excomunicating for using tobacco was like prohibition in this country in the twenties. It was stupid and just as pprohibition didn’t work neither dis that. I am a catholic but I dont like what the church has become over the last few years and for many years before that. Going to church when I was much younger (I am 81) was something that was expected but the scandals of the church have driven so many away including me.


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