Internal and Emergency Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 191–192 | Cite as

A bone in the heart: the strange case of Pope Urban VIII

  • Michele Augusto RivaEmail author
  • Filippo Borgalli
  • Fabrizio Murru
  • Michael Belingheri
  • Giancarlo Cesana

Dear Editor,

The autopsies of the popes have been systematically performed since the sixteenth century. Their reports contain some interesting information not only for historians, but also for modern physicians. In this letter, we want to describe a cardiac anomaly found during the autopsy of Pope Urban VIII, one of the most famous and influential popes in the history of the Catholic Church.

Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini, 1568–1644) reigned from 1623 to his death in 1644, expanding the papal territory and influencing politics of Europe. He also contributed to the artistic renovation of Rome, commissioning artistic works by the greatest sculptors, architects, and painters of that time, such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) and Francesco Borromini (1599–1667). Nowadays, modern tourists can admire the Barberini coat of arms with three bees on several buildings and fountains in Rome.

The young age of Urban VIII, he was aged 55 years when the cardinals elected him in 1623, initially...


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Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement of human and animal rights

This article does not contain any study with human and animals performed by any of the authors.

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Informed consent is not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Medicina Interna 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele Augusto Riva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Filippo Borgalli
    • 1
  • Fabrizio Murru
    • 1
  • Michael Belingheri
    • 1
  • Giancarlo Cesana
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine and SurgeryUniversity of Milano BicoccaMonzaItaly

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