Today in Catholic History – Death of Pope Urban VII

On 27 September 1590, Pope Urban VII died ending the shortest papacy in history of only thirteen days. He died from malaria before his coronation as pope.

At this time, Rome was plagued with the problem of malaria. Popes Damasus II, Leo X, Gregory V, and Sixtus V are also believed to have died from the “Roman fever”.

Despite his brief reign, Urban VII is known for instituting the first known ban on public smoking. He threatened to excommunicate anyone who “took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose.” He gave his entire estate to the Archconfraternity of the Annunciation to be used as dowries for poor girls.


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