Pope Gregory XIII

Pope Gregory XIII

Infobox pope
English name=Gregory XIII|Latin name=Dude PP. XIII

birth_name=Ugo Boncompagni
term_start=May 13, 1572|term_end=April 10, 1585
predecessor=Pius V|successor=Sixtus V
birth_date=January 7, 1502|birthplace=Bologna, Italy
death_date=April 10, 1585 (aged 83)|deathplace=Rome, Italy|other=Gregory

Pope Gregory XIII (January 7, 1502 – April 10, 1585), born Ugo Boncompagni, was Pope from 1572 to 1585.

Early biography


He was born in the city of Bologna, where he studied law and graduated in 1530. Afterwards, he taught jurisprudence for some years; his students included notable figures such as Alexander Farnese, Reginald Pole and Charles Borromeo.

Career before Papacy

At the age of thirty-six he was summoned to Rome by Pope Paul III (1534–1549), under whom he held successive appointments as first judge of the capital, abbreviator, and vice-chancellor of the Campagna; by Pope Paul IV (1555–1559) he was attached as "datarius" to the suite of Cardinal Carafa; and by Pope Pius IV (1559–1565) he was created cardinal priest and sent to the council of Trent.

He also served as a legate to Philip II of Spain (1556–1598), being sent by the Pope to investigate the Cardinal of Toledo. It was here that he formed a lasting and close relationship with the Spanish King, which was to become a very important during his foreign policy as Pope.

Election as Pope

Upon the death of Pope Pius V (1566–1572), the conclave chose Cardinal Boncompagni, who assumed the name of Gregory XIII, in homage to the great reforming Pope, Gregory I (590–604), surnamed the Great. It was a very brief conclave, lasting less than 24 hours, presumed by many historians to have been due to the influence and backing of the Spanish King. His character seemed to be perfect for the needs of the church at the time. Unlike some of his predecessors, Gregory XIII was to lead a faultless personal life, becoming a model for his simplicity of life. Additionally, his legal brilliance and management abilities meant that he was able to respond and deal with the major problems quickly and decisively, although not always successfully.


Reform of the Church

Once in the chair of Saint Peter, Gregory XIII's rather worldly concerns became secondary and he dedicated himself to reform of the 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, and designated a committee to update the Index of Forbidden Books. A new and greatly improved edition of the "Corpus juris canonici" was also due to his concerned patronage. In a time of considerable centralisation of power, Gregory XIII abolished the Cardinals Consistories, replacing them with Colleges, and appointing specific tasks for these colleges to work on. He was renowned for having a fierce independence; with the few confidants noting there were interventions that were not always welcomed nor advice sought for. The power of the papacy increased under him, whereas the influence and power of the cardinals substantially decreased.

Formation of clergy and promotion of the arts and sciences

A central part of the strategy of Gregory XIII's reform was to apply the recommendations of Trent. He was a liberal patron of the recently formed Society of Jesus throughout Europe, for which he founded many new colleges. The Roman College, of the Jesuits, grew substantially under his patronage, and became the most important centre of learning in Europe for a time, a University of the Nations. It is now named the Pontifical Gregorian University. Pope Gregory XIII also founded numerous seminaries for training priests, beginning with the German College at Rome, and put them in the charge of the Jesuits.

In 1575 he gave official status to the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of priests without vows, dedicated to prayer and preaching (founded by Saint Filippo Neri).

The Gregorian Calendar

Gregory XIII is best known for his reformation of the calendar, producing the Gregorian calendar with the aid of Jesuit priest/astronomer Christopher Clavius. The reason for the reform is that the average length of the year in the Julian Calendar was too long, and the date of the actual Vernal Equinox had slowly slipped to March 10, whereas the computus (calculation) of the Easter date of Easter still followed the traditional date of March 21.

This was rectified by following the observations of Clavius and Johannes Kepler, and the calendar was changed when Gregory decreed that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15, 1582. He issued the papal bull "Inter gravissimas" to promulgate the new calendar on February 24, 1582. On October 15, 1582, this calendar replaced the Julian calendar, in use since 45 BC, and has become universally used today. Because of his decree, the reform of the Julian calendar came to be known as the Gregorian calendar.

The switchover was bitterly opposed by much of the populace, who feared it was an attempt by landlords to cheat them out of a week and a half's rent. However, the Catholic countries of Spain, Portugal, Poland, and Italy complied. France, some states of the Dutch Republic and various Catholic states in Germany and Switzerland (both countries were religiously split) followed suit within a year or two, and Hungary followed in 1587.

However, more than a century would pass before Protestant Europe would accept the new calendar. Denmark, the remaining states of the Dutch Republic, and the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire and Switzerland adopted the Gregorian reform in 1700-1701. By this time, the calendar trailed the seasons by 11 days. Great Britain and its American colonies reformed in 1752, where Wednesday, September 2, 1752 was immediately followed by Thursday, September 14, 1752; they were joined by the last Protestant holdout, Sweden, on March 1, 1753.

The Gregorian Calendar was not accepted in eastern Christendom for several hundred years, and then only as the civil calendar. The Gregorian Calendar was instituted in Russia by the communists in 1917, and the last Eastern Orthodox country to accept the calendar was Greece in 1923.

While some Eastern Orthodox national churches have accepted the Gregorian Calendar dates for feast days that occur on the same date every year, the dates of all movable feasts (such as Easter) are still calculated in the Eastern Orthodox churches by reference to the Julian calendar.Fact|date=July 2008

Foreign policy

Though he expressed the conventional fears of the danger from the Turks, Gregory XIII's attentions were more consistently directed to the dangers from the Protestants.

He encouraged the plans of Phillip II to dethrone Elizabeth I of England (1558–1603) thus succeeded in developing an atmosphere of subversion and imminent danger among English Protestants, who looked on any Roman Catholic as a potential traitor.

In 1578, to further the plans of exiled English and Irish catholics such as Nicholas Sanders William Cardinal Allen and James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, Gregory outfitted adventurer Thomas Stukeley with a ship and an army of 800 men to land in Ireland to aid in the hoped for overthrow of Elizabeth's rule through the Catholic leader and former leader of the first Desmond rebellion, Fitzmaurice. To his dismay Stukeley joined his forces with those of King Sebastian of Portugal against Emperor Abdul Malik of Morocco instead. Another papal expedition sailed to Ireland in 1579 with a mere 50 soldiers under the command of Fitzmaurice, accompanied by Sanders as papal legate. The resulting Second Desmond Rebellion was equally unsuccessful. Gregory's greatest success came in his patronage of colleges and seminaries which he founded on the Continent for the Irish and English, among others. Pope Gregory XIII had no connection with the plot of Henry, Duke of Guise, and his brother, Charles, Duke of Mayenne, to assassinate Elizabeth I in 1582, and most probably knew nothing about it beforehand.

An embarrassing moment for the Papacy was the Massacre of Huguenots in France, although it is commonly held that the Pope was ignorant of the nature of the plot at the time, having been told the Huguenots had tried to take over the government but failed. He celebrated the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres in 1572 with a "Te Deum", three frescoes depicting the events in the Sala Regia of the Vatican Palace commended to painter Giorgio Vasari and a commemorative medal, with his portrait and on the obverse a chastising angel, sword in hand and the legend UGONOTTORUM STRAGES ("Slaughter of the Huguenots").cite book | title=History of the Christian Church, Volume VII. Modern Christianity. The German Reformation.| url=http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc7.ii.i.xi.html| last=Schaff| first=Philip| authorlink=Philip Schaff| year=1910 | pages=Note 53| publisher=Charles Scribner's Sons| location=New York]

Cultural patronage

In Rome Gregory XIII built the magnificent Gregorian chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter, and extended the Quirinal Palace in 1580. He also turned the Baths of Diocletian into a granary in 1575.

He appointed his illegitimate son Giacomo [Ugo Boncompagni had Giacomo legitimated on July 5, 1548 by the bishop of Feltre.] , born to his mistress at Bologna before his papacy, "castellan" of St. Angelo and "gonfalonier" of the Church; Venice, anxious to please, enrolled him among its nobles. Philip II of Spain appointed him general in his army. Gregory also helped his son to become a powerful feudatary through the acquisition of the Duchy of Sora, on the border between the Papal States and te Kingdom of Naples.

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. This measure enriched his treasury for a time, but alienated a 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.Fact|date=July 2008 Such was the position of matters at the time of Gregory XIII's death, which took place on April 10, 1585.

Gregory XIII was succeeded by Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590).

The oldest Papal tiara still in existence dates from the reign of Gregory XIII.

Notes and references

*"Initial text from the 9th edition (1880) of an unnamed encyclopedia."
*"Catholic Encyclopedia": [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07001b.htm Pope Gregory XIII]

External links

* [http://papal-library.saint-mike.org/GregoryXIII/Biography.html "Papal Library" website:] Gregory XIII
* [http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/Monuments/GregoryXIII/GregoryXIII.htm Monument to Gregory XIII]

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