Pope Leo X, the last non priest to be elected

Pope Leo X was a very educated man.

The real name of Pope Leo X is Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici. He is born on December 11th, 1475 in the Florentine Republic in Italy. He was destined for an ecclesiastical career from an early age.

He had the privilege to receive a distinguished education. This was because his father was the most famous ruler of the Florentine Republic.


Pope Innocent VII was a relative of his father. Due to this fact Giovanni was named cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica when he was only 14 years old, in the year 1489.

But only three years later was he allowed to share in the deliberations of the college and wear the emblem.

He studied theology and canon law at Pisa. When his father died in the year 1492, Giovanni returned to Florence, being a 16 years old cardinal!

When Pope Innocent VIII died, Giovanni participated in the conclave of 1492 and he opposed the election of Cardinal Borgia, with no success.

Giovanni stayed in Florence living with his eldest brother Piero until the year 1494. In this year the family de Medici has been cast out from Florence.

Cardinal Giovanni travelled to Germany, the Netherlands and France, but returned to Italy in May 1500.

He was received cordially in Rome by the Pope Alexander VI (Cardinal Borgia)and he lived there for several years dedicating himself to art and literature.

The Roman Church elected a new pope in the year 1503, being Pope Julius II. This pope appointed Giovanni papal legate of Bologna and Romagna.

Pope Julius II sent Giovanni to his native city Florence to fight this republic who declared themselves in favor of the schismatic Pisans.

Despite several attempts Giovanni did not succeed to regain political control of Florence.

On March 9th, in the year 1513 Giovanni was elected pope himself. But it was 10 days later when he was crowned Pope, at the age of 37. He chose  the name Leo X. He was the last non priest to be elected pope.


 His influences as pope


Pope Leo X is well known for granting indulgences for people who donated money for the reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica.

But he is most known for challenging Martin Luther's 95 Theses. Martin Luther was concerned about misbehavior from some of the Church servants. In response to these concerns Martin wrote 95 Theses on the topic of indulgences and read them in the church at Wittenburg, Germany. 

Students took care of these Theses to be spread throughout Germany and later throughout Europe. Pope Leo X did not understand the importance of this movement.

Instead of receiving Martin himself, he sent a papal delegate to try to convince Luther that he had to retract. During the year of fruitless negotiations that followed, this controversy took root across the German Sates.

Pope Leo X was also very sensitive to the needs of society in which he lived. He took care that retirement homes and hospitals be built. He did not forget the poor, the crippled and the sick, students, exiles, you name them, he remembered them in a very generous way.

He also took care that Rome became the Center of European culture. He restored the Church of Santa Maria after Raphael's designs. He also took care of work done on St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican.

Pope Leo became ill and died from malaria on December 1st, 1521. He is buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome.


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