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Girolamo Doria was born in Genoa in 1495, the son of Andrea Doria. Early in his life, he married Luisa Spinola and had several children. He entered the ecclesiastical state after his wife died, becoming a cleric in Genoa.
He was the administrator of the see of Elne from January 12, 1530 until October 2, 1532; administrator of the see of Huesca y Jaca from October 2, 1532 until May 8, 1533; administrator of the see of Tarragona from May 8, 1533; and administrator of the see of Noli from April 13, 1534 until February 25, 1549.
He participated in the papal conclave of 1549-50 that elected Pope Julius III; the papal conclave of April 1555 that elected Pope Marcellus II; and the papal conclave of May 1555 that elected Pope Paul IV.