Pope Urban: Patron of Nonsmokers?

Once upon a time, I took home delivery of the Detroit Free Press—allowing its ink to smear my fingers, spread to my cheek, leave smudges on the kitchen table.  To my irritation, my children left it around, comic pages spread wide on the living room floor.  My husband read the Sports Page instead of engaging in witty repartee.

I’m digital now; but I have a vague memory from those olden days of a newspaper column I really enjoyed—something like “Things I Learned En Route to Learning Other Things.” Maybe it was Chicago-based columnist Sydney J. Harris, because he would have liked that kind of stuff.

Anyway, today is one of those days.

Today I learned that Pope Urban VII had the shortest papal reign in history.  Pope Urban—who was born Giovanni Battista Castagna and who served for a time as apostolic nuncio to Spain, was elected to the papacy on September 15, 1590.  He succeeded Pope Sixtus V.  However, Pope Urban contracted malaria and died only 13 days later—on September 27, 1590.

With so little time to issue papal bulls or encyclicals, Pope Urban VII has at least one claim to fame:  He seems to have been ahead of his time, because he issued the world’s first known public smoking ban.  Pope Urban 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.”

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2 Responses to “Pope Urban: Patron of Nonsmokers?”

  1. LRoy says:

    I never smoked, so far so good.

    However, the main offending ingredient is nicotine which is addictive, and can be classified as a drug. Therefore, we need a patron saint of not only non-smoking but of ALL(illegal) drugs in general.
    I can get “stoned” just eating a lemon poppy seed muffin which is why I don’t eat it.

  2. Lucy says:

    Hurrah!! Let’s all jump on the no smoking, wear-your-seatbelt, low-salt, sugar-and-fat-free bandwagon.

    Since we no longer subscribe to the 10 commandments, we need new laws that define how we behave.

    Further, I move that we round up smokers, fat people, drunks and all religious. First we should put them in a stockade at the mall. if that doesn’t fix their bad behavior, then they should go to concentration camps and be burned in ovens.

    Oh yes. Our new society is working out so well. This is just what I always dreamed about as a child growing up in America. I feel so smug and perfect. I don’t do any of those things. By the time we erradicate all those bothersome types, there won’t be enough people left to figure out what is unacceptable about me. I’ll be able to start smoking, drive rogue and eat anything I want without any Puritans to bother me. The first thing I plan on doing is re-instituting the 10 commandments… but please, don’t tell anyone I said that just yet.

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