17 Popes Who Didn't Practice What They Preached

Pope Innocent VIII. The late fifteenth century pope was the first pontiff to openly admit that he fathered eight illegitimate children. His successors followed his example. Getty Images. Mirror UK.

13. Innocent VIII Was the First Pope to Acknowledge His Illegitimate Children Openly

Cardinal Giovanni Cibo lived a worldly life before the curia elected him Innocent VIII in 1484. In a fairly unimpressive papacy, the elderly pope became the first pontiff to publicly announce that he fathered illegitimate children. Using his influence to provide for his offspring, Innocent set a precedent for his successors. The pope was extremely lazy, only working when he had to do so. Securing wealth, land, and advantageous marriages for his children seemed to be the only work he had any energy to accomplish. Granting his problematic son Franceschetto some decent titles, such as the governor of Rome, Innocent arranged a strategic marriage for his son into the prominent Medici family.

Franceschetto had expensive tastes, and his father funded his lifestyle with papal money. Innocent also married his daughter, Teodorina Cibo, to an Italian nobleman. Although there is little evidence that he continued his affairs into his pontificate, Innocent never lost his love for women. Before his death, his love for excess, especially food, made him grossly overweight. In the days before he died, Innocent could only drink a few drops of milk for sustenance. Rumor has it that he ordered a beautiful wet nurse to stand at his bedside so that he could enjoy her milk from the source.