Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585)
Gregory XIII, né Ugo Buoncampagno (January 7, 1502 – April 10, 1585) was pope (1572 – 1585). He was born Ugo Buoncampagno in Bologna, where he studied law and graduated in 1530. Afterwards, he taught jurisprudence for some years, Alexander Farnese, Reginald Pole and Charles Borromeo being among his pupils.
At the age of thirty-six he was summoned to Rome by Paul III, under whom he held successive appointments as first judge of the capital, abbreviator, and vice-chancellor of the campagna; by Paul IV he was attached as datarius to the suite of Cardinal Carafa; and by Pope Pius IV he was created cardinal priest and sent to the council of Trent.
Upon the death of Pius V in May 1572, the conclave chose Cardinal Buoncampagno, who assumed the name of Gregory XIII. Once in the chair of Saint Peter, he put aside his rather worldy concerns and dedicated himself to reform of the Roman Catholic Church. He committed himself to putting into practice the recommendations of the Council of Trent. He allowed no exceptions for cardinals to the rule that bishops must take up residence in their sees, designated a committee to update the Index of forbidden books.
The work with which the name of Gregory XIII is most honorably associated is that of the reformation of the calendar, producing the "Gregorian calendar". With the aid of priest/astronomer Christopher Clavius, it has become universally used today.
A new and greatly improved edition of the Corpus juris canonici was also due to his concerned patronage.
Though he expressed the conventional fears of the danger from the Turks, his attentions were more consistently directed to the dangers from the Protestants. He founded numerous seminaries for training priests, beginning with the German College at Rome, and put them in the charge of the Jesuits. He was a liberal patron of the Jesuit order throughout Europe, for which he founded many new colleges.
His attempts to dethrone Elizabeth I of England succeeded in creating an atmosphere of subversion and imminent danger among English Protestants, who looked on any Catholic as a potential traitor. As early as 1578 Gregory outfitted Thomas Stukeley with a ship and an army of 800 men to land in Ireland. To his dismay Stukeley joined his forces with those of King Sebastian of Portugal against Emperor Abdulmelek of Morocco instead. Another papal expedition sailed to Ireland in 1579 under the command of James Fitzmaurice, accompanied by Nicholas Sanders as papal nuncio, was equally unsuccessful. Gregory XIII had no connection with the plot of Henry, Duke of Guise, and his brother, Charles, Duke of Mayenne, to assassinate the queen, and most probably knew nothing about it beforehand.
He celebrated the St Bartholomew's Day Massacres in 1572 with a Te Deum and a commemmorative medal.
In Rome he built the magnificent Gregorian chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter, and the Quirinal Palace in 1580. He also turned the Baths of Diocletian into a granary in 1575.
He appointed his illegitimate son Giacomo, born to his mistress at Bologna, castellan of St. Angelo and gonfalonier of the Church, and Venice, anxious to please, enrolled him among its nobles. The King of Spain appointed him general in his army.
In order to raise funds for these and similar objects, he confiscated a large proportion of the houses and properties throughout the states of the church, — a measure which enriched his treasury, indeed, for a time, but by alienating the great body of the nobility and gentry, revived old factions, created new ones, and ultimately plunged his temporal dominions into a state bordering upon anarchy. Such was the position of matters at the time of his death, which took place on April 10, 1585.
Gregory XIII was succeeded by Sixtus V.
The oldest Papal Tiara still in existence dates from the reign of Gregory XIII.
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Gregory XIII http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07001b.htm
- "Papal Library" website: http://papal-library.saint-mike.org/GregoryXIII/Biography.html Gregory XIII
Initial text from the 9th edition (1880) of an unnamed encyclopedia.
Last updated: 02-06-2005 13:18:55