Innocent XII, Pope 1691-1700
Muntoni 1; Berman 2211, PCGS graded MS-62
Rome. INNOCEN · XII · PONT · M · A · IIII, bust of Pope Innocent XII right. Reverse: DAT OMNIBVS AFFLVENTER ·, the Fountain of Santa Maria in Trastevere; in exergue, small arms between ·16 94·.
Ex NAC 76 (10 December 2013), 220
Antonio Pignatelli was born into one of the greatest noble families of the Kingdom of Naples. He served the Church in diplomatic and inquisitorial capacities before he was elevated to the post of cardinal by Innocent XI in 1681. As a compromise between political factions loyal to France and the Holy Roman Empire, Pignatelli was elected Pope in 1691. In honor of the pope who had made him cardinal, Pignatelli took the throne name of Innocent XII and continued many of the laudable policies of his namesake. The new Bishop of Rome took a strong stance against simony (the selling of Church offices) and nepotism (the favor of family members for official posts). Cardinals were henceforth forbidden to bestow estates, offices, or revenue on family members and the egregious abuse of the position of Cardinal-Nephew was abolished. While his predecessors in the Holy See were often in conflict with France, Innocent XII enjoyed a rapprochement with Louis XIV and in 1693 compelled the repeal of the Gallican Liberties (four propositions that denied the temporal authority of the Pope in France) claimed by French bishops in 1682. This quadruple scudi d’oro was struck in 1694, the fourth year of Innocent’s pontificate. It features a portrait of the Pope by the Swiss engraver P. P. Borner on the obverse and a depiction of the fountain before the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere on the reverse. The reverse type celebrates the restoration of the fountain by Carlo Fontana, an Italian architect commissioned by Innocent XII. The fountain is thought to have been the oldest in Rome. According to Christian legend, on the night of Christ’s birth a fountain of oil miraculously appeared at the site although the historical water fountain seems to have been fed by an aqueduct and an underground source. It was frequently subject to renovation in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Carlo Fontana’s chief work on the fountain involved the replacement of the seashells originally sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini with his own seashells. The new shells are clearly visible in the reverse type.