Pope Gregory XIV

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Pope
Gregory XIV
GregorioPPXVI.jpg
Papacy began 5 December 1590
Papacy ended 16 October 1591
Predecessor Urban VII
Successor Innocent IX
Orders
Ordination 1551
Consecration 13 March 1564
by St. Charles Borromeo
Created Cardinal 12 December 1583
by Pope Gregory XIII
Personal details
Birth name Niccolò Sfondrato
Born (1535-02-11)11 February 1535
Somma Lombardo, Duchy of Milan
Died 16 October 1591(1591-10-16) (aged 56)
Rome, Papal State
Previous post
  • Abbot of Civate (1551-1560)
  • Bishop of Cremona (1560-1590)
  • Cardinal-Priest of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (1585-1590)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Other popes named Gregory

Pope Gregory XIV (Latin: Gregorius XIV; 11 February 1535 – 16 October 1591), born Niccolò Sfondrato[1] or Sfondrati,[2] was Pope from 5 December 1590 to his death in 1591.

Early career[edit]

Niccolò Sfondrati was born at Somma Lombardo, then part of the Duchy of Milan, in the highest stratum of Milanese society. His mother, of the house of Visconti, died in childbirth. His father Francesco Sfondrati, a senator of the ancient comune of Milan, was created Cardinal-Priest by Pope Paul III in 1544.[3]

In his youth he was known for his modest lifestyle and stringent piety. He studied law at Perugia and Padua, was ordained a priest and swiftly appointed Bishop of Cremona, in 1560, in time to participate in the sessions of the Council of Trent from 1561 to 1563. Pope Gregory XIII made him a Cardinal-Priest of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere on 12 December 1583. Sfondrati was a close follower of Carlo Cardinal Borromeo, and when cardinal he celebrated the Requiem Mass for Borromeo on 7 November 1584.[4] Sfondrati was an intimate friend and a great admirer of Philip Neri, an Italian priest who died in 1595 and was canonised in 1622.

Papal election[edit]

After the death of Pope Urban VII on 27 September 1590, the Spanish ambassador Olivares presented the conclave a list of the seven cardinals who would be acceptable to his master Philip II of Spain. On 5 December 1590, after two months of deadlock, Sfondrati, one of Philip II's seven candidates but who had not aspired to the office, was elected pope. Alessandro Cardinal Montalto came to Sfondrati's cell to inform him that the Sacred College had agreed on his election and found him kneeling in prayer before a crucifix. On the next day he was elected Pope Gregory XIV he burst into tears and said to the cardinals: "God forgive you! What have you done?" In his bull of 21 March 1591, Cogit nos, he forbade under pain of excommunication all betting concerning the election of a Pope, the duration of a pontificate, or the creation of new cardinals.

Papacy[edit]

Papal styles of
Pope Gregory XIV
C o a Gregorio XIV.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

Gregory XIV's brief pontificate was marked by vigorous intervention in favour of the Catholic party in the French Wars of Religion. Instigated by the king of Spain and the duke of Mayenne, he excommunicated Henry IV of France on 1 March 1591, reiterating the 1585 declaration of Pope Sixtus V that as a heretic (Protestent) Henry of Navarre was ineligible to succeed to the throne of Catholic France and deprived of his dominions.

Gregory XIV levied an army for the invasion of France, and dispatched his nephew Ercole Sfondrati to France at its head. He also sent a monthly subsidy of 15,000 scudi to Paris to reinforce the Catholic League. By coming down solidly on the side of Spanish interests, in part because Gregory XIV was elected due to the influence of the Spanish cardinals, the recent papal policy of trying to maintain a balance between Spain and France was abandoned.

Medal depicting Gregory XIV.

Gregory XIV created five cardinals, among whom was his nephew Paolo Emilio Sfondrati, his Secretary of State. He attempted to convince Philip Neri, a long-time friend, to accept the post of Cardinal, but Neri refused, saying that there were many more deserving of the honour than him.

In a decree dated 18 April 1591 (Bulla Cum Sicuti), Gregory XIV ordered reparations to be made by Catholics in the Philippines to the natives, who had been forced into slavery by Europeans, and he commanded under pain of excommunication of the owners that all native slaves in the islands be set free.

Also in 1591, Gregory XIV modified the Apostolic Constitution Effraenatam of Pope Sixtus V (1588) so that the penalty for abortion did not apply until the foetus became animated.

The biographers mention that Pope Gregory XIV had a nervous tendency to laughter, which occasionally became irresistible and even manifested itself at his coronation. Gregory XIV, who was in poor health before his election to the papacy, died due to a large gallstone and was succeeded by Innocent IX.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gregory XIV." in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. XI. 1880.
  2. ^ Francesco Patrizi's Hermetic Philosophy, Cees Leijenhorst, Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times, ed.R. van den Broek, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, (State University of New York Press, 1998), 125.
  3. ^ Terence Scully, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570), (University of Toronto Press, 2008), vi.
  4. ^ Miranda, "Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church"
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Urban VII
Pope
5 December 1590 – 16 October 1591
Succeeded by
Innocent IX