Some popes left their mark on the Eternal City more than others and one such figure was Alexander VII (r. 1655-67).
Alexander VII was born Fabio Chigi, a member of a princely Roman family of Sienese extraction. The heraldic arms of the Chigi family, which takes the form of six mountains surmounted by an eight-pointed star, can be seen all over Rome.
The Chigi coat of arms is sometimes quartered with that of the Della Rovere family, a privilege conferred on Agostino Chigi (1465-1520), an immensely wealthy banker and patron of the arts, by Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere, r. 1503-13). Rovere is the Italian word for oak and, unsurprisingly, the family's coat of arms incorporates an oak tree.
The Chigi family's motto is Micat in Vertice (It shines at the summit).
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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