Skip to content

Papal Library

Biography - Pope Julius III - The Papal Library

by Catherine Frakas 17 Mar 2021

Julius III1550-1555 Gianmaria de' Ciocchi del Monte born 1487 Julius III, the son of a famous Roman jurisconsult, was born on the 10th of September, 1487. Julius II, in 1512, made him Archbishop of Manfredonia, when he was only twenty-five years of age. Paul III created him cardinal in 1536. He was the first who presided as apostolic nuncio at the Council of Trent. On all occasions Cardinal del Monte displayed so much intellect, justice, prudence, and skill that he had the reputation of being the most distinguished member of the Sacred College. It was he who, in concert with the Cardinal Guidiccioni, reformed the tribunal of the Rota. As soon as the death of Paul III was known, Cardinals Salviati, Gonzaga, Cibo, de la Rovera, Madrucci, del Monte, Truchsess, Doria, and Pacheco, who were at Trent and Bologna, set out for Rome. The electors formed three factions-the Caesarians, the French, and the Farnesians. Before they assembled in conclave, they resolved to choose the best candidate among those worthy of the tiara, and in that number were Cardinal Pole, Sfondrati, father of the future Gregory XIV, Da Carpi, and Ridolfi. Serious fears were felt in the conclave, because Pompey Colonna, after the death of the pope, had occupied Paliano and other castles of his family which had been confiscated, and which he had retaken, as he stated, to maintain his rights. In consequence, the protection of Rome was intrusted to Horatio Farnese, who had four thousand men under his command, and who was supported and assisted by four tribunes-Torquato Conti, Julius Orsini, Nestor Baglioni, and Papirio Capizucchi. Usually the conclave met on the eleventh day after the death of a pope, but on this occasion it did not meet until the nineteenth day. The delay was solicited by the French cardinals, to give the other cardinals time to come from France. For the first time there were introduced into the conclave six physicians and six surgeons, of various nationalities. After the customary ceremonies, Cardinal Pole, of the royal blood of England, was proposed for pope. He was illustrious for both knowledge and piety. In a ballot he only needed two votes, and the cardinals immediately determined to elect him by way of adoration. The day was drawing to a close, and it was believed that this impulsive movement of adoration, which leads the cardinals to proclaim aloud the name of the pontiff-elect, was about to decide the question, when Cardinal Pole, with unmoved countenance, and opposing the strength of his virtue to that lively impulse, observed that, God being the author of light, it was not right thus to decide in the dark, and he entreated the conclave to postpone the election until the next day. Nothing could be more welcome to his adversaries. They made use of the authority of Cardinal Caraffa, afterwards Paul IV, who was renowned as a learned and pious man, and they insinuated that Pole was suspected of Lutheranism, because, when legate at Viterbo, he had not displayed great energy against those accused of heresy. Then Cardinal Alvarez de Toledo was thought of, a relation of the Duke of Alba, viceroy of Naples. He had the favor of the emperor and of Cosmo, Duke of Florence; but he also lacked two votes, which he could not obtain. Farnese was favorable to Cardinal Cervini, but the emperor was against him. The French proposed Salviati, a Florentine, and Rudolph da Carpi: the former celebrated as a negotiator under Leo X, Clement VII, and Paul III; the other recommended by Catharine de' Medici, Queen of France. Neither of them was agreeable to Cardinal Farnese. The King of France had vainly put forward Cardinal d'Esti. The struggle lasted two months, and an agreement seemed impossible, when the votes suddenly centered on Cardinal del Monte, though he had been opposed by all three parties, the Imperialists, the French, and Farnese himself. The election was decided on the 7th of February at three o'clock at night, by Italian reckoning of time (i.e., nine o'clock in the evening). The conclave consisted of forty-eight cardinals- twelve French, two Germans, five Spaniards, and one English; the other twenty-eight were Italians or Romans. Thirty-two votes, two thirds of the whole, were requisite. The new pope was sixty-three years of age. He was crowned on the 22nd of February by Cardinal Cibo, first deacon, and took the name of Julius III, in memory of Julius II, who had given the cardinal's hat to Antonio del Monte, uncle of the new pontiff. On the 24th of June, 1550, the day of the feast of Saint John, Julius took possession of Saint John Lateran. On the first day of his pontificate the pope reduced the amount of imposts, and especially that on wheat. This measure, contemplated by Paul III, had been prevented by his death. During the conclave the forty-eight electors had agreed that whoever should be elected would be held pledged to recall Orsini, governor of Parma, and restore that principality to Octavius Farnese. Julius III, on his accession, was faithful to his engagement, and gave the government of Parma to Octavius, with the title of Vessillifere (standard-bearer) of the Holy See. The jubilee, announced by Paul III, was then opened, and it was in this year (1550) that the pious institution of the Santissima Trinità de Pelegrini commenced its charitable operations. This distinguished work, founded by Saint Philip Neri, may, as Novaes suggests, be called the miracle of Christian charity. It is intended for the reception of all convalescents who are discharged from the hospitals of the city, and of the pilgrims who go to Rome to visit the holy places. Pilgrims receive hospitality there for three days. This year Italy suffered much from a great scarcity, and Rome was burdened by the presence of an immense number of paupers. Julius imported breadstuffs, and his action restored plenty. During the jubilee the indulgences are suspended throughout the world. The pope excepted those which were granted to the Society of Jesus. At Trent, Julius had known Faber, Lainez, and Salmeron, theologians of the pope, and therefore gave the society numerous marks of his favor, and confirmed it by new bulls. Julius knew how useful the council general, of which he had been president, might be made, and he convoked it to meet at Trent, with the Cardinal Marcellus Crescenzi as president. To that cardinal he added, as nuncios, Sebasi Pighini, Bishop of Manfredonia, and Louis Lipomani, Bishop of Verona, desiring to do honor to the episcopacy that the heretics sought to abase. The council, notwithstanding the opposition of the Protestant princes, opened its eleventh session on the 1st of May, 1551, and continued to its sixteenth session, celebrated on the 28th of April, 1552. Then the labors of that august assembly were interrupted by the war of Parma, and by that which the Lutherans had declared against Charles V, in concert with Henry II, King of France, who desired to weaken the emperor, and could not see that he at the same time was allying himself with the enemies of the faith. In this conjuncture a diet was assembled at Passau, on the Danube, in which the Protestant princes, by a solemn treaty concluded in the year 1552, obtained liberty to exercise their religion. This treaty is called the Religious Peace, and formed part of the public law of the empire. By this agreement, confirmed at Augsburg in 1555, the emperor and the members of the empire, both Catholic and Protestant, engaged that they would do no violence to princes or States who embraced the novelties of Luther, or who persisted in the old and true religion. They promised that this union should not be disturbed by any differences of faith. The two parties, weary of the wars produced by the new heresy, concluded that treaty, in which Charles V, besides restoring liberty to the Landgrave of Hesse, who had been arrested in breach of good faith, made numerous concessions to the Lutherans, thenceforward called Protestants, because they had protested against the decrees of the Diet of Spires, which ordered all the members of the empire to respect the ancient doctrine. Hence Protestants may call that Religious Peace the real foundation of the liberty which they have since enjoyed. However, the belief that peace was perfectly restored was but vain. In order to obviate new afflictions, the pontiff, who feared that the ravages of the schism might extend still more in Germany, founded at Rome, by the care of Saint Ignatius Loyola, a college for the instruction of young Germans and Hungarians. They were intended for the priesthood in their own countries, to sustain the Catholic faith if it were shaken, and to restore it if it were destroyed. The pope contributed from his own funds towards the maintenance of the college, and each cardinal contributed according to his means. There was thus provided an annual income of three thousand and sixty-five crowns, which the beneficent Gregory XIII subsequently increased to the sum of ten thousand. By a brief of the 31st of July, Saint Ignatius was himself invested with the direction of the college; his order, the Jesuits, being the principal professors. At that time the Siennese expelled the Spanish troops from their city and from the military posts on the coast, and gave their allegiance to Henry II, King of France. Peter de Toledo, viceroy of Naples, then sent into Tuscany an army of twenty thousand infantry. It had to pass by the frontier of the Ecclesiastical States; and Julius, fearing a repetition of what had happened to Clement VII, guarded his frontier with eight thousand men. But the French and the imperialists carried into all the neighboring States the furies of the war. Julius endeavored, but in vain, to mediate between the belligerents. He then resolved to aid Cosmo de' Medici against the Siennese. By a bull of the 26th of January, 1554, Julius ordered that there should never be two brothers cardinals at the same time in the Sacred College; but this subsequently became obsolete. Edward VI, King of England, dying on the 6th of July, 1553, Mary, his sister, succeeded to the throne. Julius employed the fitting means to bring back that nation to the faith. Cardinal Pole, whose sentiments were widely different from those attributed to him by Cardinal Caraffa, was sent to negotiate the return to concord and unity. Already even, a solemn embassy was about to leave London for Rome to offer respectful obedience to the pope. But Julius had not the consolation of receiving these ambassadors; he died the 23rd of March, 1555, at the age of sixty-seven, after reigning five years, one month, and sixteen days. Various reports have been circulated as to the cause of his death; the true cause was an uninterrupted succession of fits of the gout. He went to inspect the works going on at the famous villa, outside the Gate of the People, which still bears his name; braving the weather too much, he was attacked the fever under which he sank. Julius was of lofty stature. His eyes sparkled, and his nose was long, and his countenance sometimes indicated irritability. But habitually he was mild, liberal, the friend of justice and of peace; and to those virtues he added knowledge and the gift of a captivating eloquence. Repenting of having annoyed the cardinals by giving the purple to the adopted son of his brother, he tried by every means to destroy the repugnance which that choice had caused to his own authority. Julius loved to grant to the cardinals all just and possible favors that they might ask, and even suggested such favors, and tried every method by which to make himself agreeable to the Sacred College. If he had not done something to oblige them, he was sleepless on the ensuing night. It is also remarked that Julius was often obliging to his enemies. Bercastel describes him as one of those subaltern spirits that shine in the second rank, but suffer eclipse in the first; a firm soul, but short-sighted; fit to execute, but not to command. But too much has been said about that villa and the recreation that he sought there, which could be not otherwise than pure and innocent, as many cardinals daily visited him there, when the pope, retired for the time from strict etiquette, could welcome them to his table, and loved to assemble them there. Julius introduced reforms into the Roman chancery. He founded a congregation of six cardinals, whose duty it was to ascertain the needed improvements in the collation of benefices. He ordered that any cardinal who possessed several bishoprics should choose one, at his own pleasure, and vacate the others within six months. He published a bull against laymen who meddled in the investigation of points of heresy; his object was to check the Venetians who had added lay visitors to the ecclesiastical inquisitors. Julius was incessantly watchful to preserve the peace of the Church and of Europe. He maintained the ecclesiastical immunity which many magistrates had violated in Spain, and which the French had attacked in Corsica. He restored the concordat of Nicholas V for the collation of benefices in Germany. In Naples he appeased the disturbances caused by the censures of the Holy Inquisition, in such wise that while the guilty, who had agitated the kingdom, should be punished, property should accrue to their nearest relatives, and not to the treasury, as the viceroy Peter de Toledo wished, who maintained that there, as in Spain, the property of heretics should go to the king's treasury. Aided by Cardinal Cervini, he reformed the college of the cardinals and freed it from some abuses. He repressed the cupidity of several religious who were ambitious of the mitre, by ordering that no one of them should ever be made bishop, unless with the express consent of his superior and of the cardinal-protector of the order. Julius with inexpressible joy received Simon Sulaca, monk of Saint Basil, patriarch-elect of the East, sent by the Nestorians, who wished him to be confirmed and consecrated at Rome. Simon received this favor, and was sent back to his country with considerable gifts. Julius founded at Rome the arch-confraternity of the Holy Sepulchre; he wrote to all the Catholic princes, exhorting them to give alms for the restoration of the churches in Syria; and he granted to the Society of the Holy Crucifix, at Saint Marcellus, the privilege of annually delivering one prisoner condemned to death, provided that he was not guilty of the crime of treason. The same privilege was granted to many other cities in Christendom. This biographical data is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by The Chevalier Artaud De Montor. Published by The Catholic Publication Society of New York in ten volumes in 1911. The pictures, included in the volumes, were reproduced from Effigies Pontificum Romanorum Dominici Basae.

930 x 520px


Sample Block Quote

Praesent vestibulum congue tellus at fringilla. Curabitur vitae semper sem, eu convallis est. Cras felis nunc commodo eu convallis vitae interdum non nisl. Maecenas ac est sit amet augue pharetra convallis.

Sample Paragraph Text

Praesent vestibulum congue tellus at fringilla. Curabitur vitae semper sem, eu convallis est. Cras felis nunc commodo eu convallis vitae interdum non nisl. Maecenas ac est sit amet augue pharetra convallis nec danos dui. Cras suscipit quam et turpis eleifend vitae malesuada magna congue. Damus id ullamcorper neque. Sed vitae mi a mi pretium aliquet ac sed elitos. Pellentesque nulla eros accumsan quis justo at tincidunt lobortis deli denimes, suspendisse vestibulum lectus in lectus volutpate.
Prev Post
Next Post
Someone recently bought a
[time] minutes ago, from [location]

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Choose Options

Recently Viewed

Edit Option
Back In Stock Notification
this is just a warning
Shopping Cart
0 items