Pope Pius IV

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POPE PIUS IV

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POPE PIUS IV STATS
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Name: Giovanni Angelo Medici
Born: 31 March 1499
Home town: Milan
Died: 9 December 1585
Position: Held Papacy from 25 December 1559 until 9 December 1585
House of: Medici (not the Florence Medici)
Nickname:
Personality type: Affable and convivial.
Hobbies: Patron of the Arts.
Strength(s):
Weakness(es): Nepotism.
Quirks: Intriguing personal life.


"God forbid that I should begin my pontificate with condoning a parricide."

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POPE PIUS IV BIO
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After a conclave of almost four months, with the French and Spanish factions deadlocked, Giovanni Angelo Medici, behind whom a third group led by Cardinal Carafa threw its weight, was chosen to succeed Paul IV. A notary's son (no relation of the Florentine Medici), he was born in Milan on 31 March 1499, studied first medicine and then jurisprudence, took his doctorate in law at Bologna in 1525, and under Paul III gave proof of administrative ability as governor in the papal state, commissioner with the papal forces in Hungary and Transylvania (1542-43), and vice-legate to Bologna. The father of three natural children, his star rose when an elder brother married into the pope's family; on 14 December 1545 he was made archbishop of Ragusa and on 8 April 1549 a cardinal. Under Julius III he served on the tribunal known as Signature gratiae, but fell into disfavour with Paul IV, with whose anti-Spanish attitude and fanaticism he had no sympathy and in 1558 withdrew of his own accord from Rome . Admired as a jurist, he was not known as an advocate of reform.

In contrast to his despotic predecessor, Pius was affable and convivial, with a private life which intrigued gossips; but he was also politically astute. He at once reversed Paul's repressive measures, rehabilitating Cardinal Giovanni Morone (1509-1580), unjustly suspected of heresy, abolishing the ban on vagrant monks, restricting the competence of the unworkable Index of Forbidden Books of 1559. Discarding Paul's anti-Habsburg policies, he entered into friendly relations with Phillip II of Spain (1556-1598) and Emperor Ferdinand I (1558-1564), and filled the vacant nunciatures to Vienna, Venice and Florence. In response to popular hatred for Paul's nephews, he had two of them, Cardinal Carlo Carafa and Giovanni, Duke of Paliano tried and executed (5 March 1561) for instigating the war against Spain, murder, and other crimes. He himself, nevertheless, indulged freely in nepotism. But his nomination (31 January 1560) of the youthful Carlo Borromeo (1538-1584) as cardinal and archbishop of Milan proved a blessing for the church, and brought him a secretary who increasingly influenced his worldly uncle in favour of reform at the papal court.

Pius's historic achievement was to reconvene the Council of Trent, suspended in 1552, and bring it to a successful conclusion. The credit for this rested with Borromeo. Its recall, to which Pius pledged himself in his pre-election oath, was precipitated by the advance of Calvinism in France, which posed a threat which only a general council could meet. The question was whether it should be a new council, as France and Emperor Ferdinand I wished (the latter because it still hoped for the reconciliation of the Lutherans), or a continuation of the old one, as Philip II demanded. Pius's bull of convocation (Ad ecclesiae regimem: 29 November 1560) evade the point, but when the council met at Trent in 18 January 1562 it effectively resumed the interrupted agenda. It passed through several crises, notably over the issue of whether the pope could dispense bishops from the obligation of residence, and at one stage was brought near collapse through the great powers' threat to its autonomy: but Pius kept control of it and overcame all difficulties, largely through the advice and diplomatic skill of Cardinal Morone, whom he made president in 1563. The council was dissolved on 4 December 1563 at its 25th session, and Pius confirmed its decrees orally on 26 January 1564, publishing the formal bull Benedictus deus on 30 June 1564.

Pius now worked, with mixed success, to get the council accepted in Catholic countries. Having reserved the authentic interpretation of its decrees to himself, to a congregation of cardinals on 2 August 1564. He began the enforcement in Italy on 1 March directing bishops present in Rome to take up residence in their dioceses. On 24 March 1564 he published, in the bull Dominici gregis, the Council's Index of Forbidden Books. The Council having left the question of of communion in both kinds to his discretion, he conceded the chalice, at the discretion of the bishops, to the laity of Germany, Austria, Hungary and other regions in an effort to check Protestantism, but he deferred the issue of married priests. On 13 November 1564 he ordered bishops, superiors, and doctors to subscribe the new 'Profession of the Tridentine Faith'. Since in his view the reform of the administration lay outside the council's competence, he had already (1561 and 1562) published decrees reforming the Sacred Rota (the principal judicial tribunal of the Holy See), the Sacred Penitentiary, the Chancery, and the Camera; in carrying through these changes he was actively assisted by Cardinal Borromeo. He initiated, but did not live to, complete, the compilation of the catechism and the reform of the missal and the breviary.

With Pius the papacy gained prestige for the vigorous lead it gave to Catholic reform, but he could not prevent the spread of Protestantism in Germany, France (where he gave financial subsidies to the crown for its war with the Huguenots), or England (where he refrained from excommunicating Elizabeth I in the hope that the country would return to Catholic allegiance). His administration of the papal state, devastated as a result of Paul IV's Spanish war, was maladroit; he had to raise new taxes which occasioned widespread discontent, and in his last year sparked off an unsuccessful attempt on his life. Reviving the Renaissance tradition dropped by Paul IV, he was generous to artists and scholars, restoring and founding universities, setting up at Rome a press for printing Christian texts, strengthening the fortification of the city, and adorning it with buildings like the Porta Pia, Santa Maria degli Angeli (in the Baths of the Diocletian), and the Villa Pia in the Vatican Gardens.

He died on 9 December 1565, and was buried in Santa Maria degli Angeli


Source: Oxford Dictionary of Popes by JND Kelly

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POPE PIUS IV QUOTES
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  • “The strength of that heretic [Calvin] consisted in this, that money never had the slightest charm for him. If I had such servants my dominion would extend from sea to sea.”
    — Pope Pius IV on hearing of the death of John Calvin




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POPE PIUS IV TRIVIA
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  • One of his strongest passions appears to have been that of building, which somewhat strained his resources in contributing to the adornment of Rome (including the new Porta Pia and Via Pia, named after him.
  • He is generally believed to be the first pope to have died leaving in pectore cardinals unpublished.



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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
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BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS WEBSITES & MEDIA
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Popes by JND Kelly
  • The Popes by John Julius Norwich
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