Today in Religion – Pope Paul III

Pope Paul III

Pope Paul III excommunicated King Henry VIII of England in 1538.

Born in 1468, Pope Paul III was named Alessandro Farnese. Born into a rich and influential family assured his path into Catholic Church leadership. As his patron, Pope Alexander VI made Alessandro the church treasurer and then cardinal deacon. Many suspected this rapid rise had more to do with Pope Alexander’s close ties to Alessandro’s sister. They called him the “petticoat cardinal”.

In 1534, he took on the pontiff mantle as Pope Paul III. As pope, he did many good works. He hoped to reform the church and held a meeting that hashed out the correct doctrine. As a supporter of the arts and education, he showed his renaissance upbringing. He had four children with his mistress. He provoked charges of nepotism as he furthered the interests of his children and their families as Pope. In 1538 he excommunicated King Henry VIII, who had declared himself head of the Church of England. Pope Paul died at the age of 82.

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