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Clement VIII

Pope from 1592. Born Ippolito Aldobrandini, son of an Italian lawyer, he was the first of the series of “restorer” popes, though in 1594 his confessor Philip Neri* refused him absolution unless he recognized the coronation of Henry IV (who was received back into the church in 1595). In 1598 Clement helped to prepare the Treaty of Vervins between France and Spain, and three years later he negotiated the Treaty of Lyons between France and Savoy. In 1599 he created a preliminary sketch, as it were, of the future Congregation of Propaganda, under the presidency of Cardinal Santonio; its main function was to vitalize and control the Apostolate in every part of the world. In 1600 Clement refused the request of a number of orders to break the monopoly of the Jesuits to work in Japan, which had been granted them in 1585 by Gregory XIII. His attempts at restoring the Roman Empire failed, particularly in the case of James I (of England) and VI (of Scotland), whom he attempted to woo back to Roman Catholicism.

In ecclesiastical matters Clement made his presence felt soon after his accession. He ordered a revision of the Vulgate,* which had been done previously in haste, known as the Sixtus Vulgate; the new edition, generally known as Clement’s edition, appeared in 1592 and contained some 3,000 corrections. Later research reveals that the Clementine edition departs from the text of Jerome at many points. His interest in the revision of the service books of the church extended to the Missal, Breviary, Caeremoniale episcoporum, and Pontifical. He also built a monumental altar within St. Peter’s, over the site believed to contain the apostle’s body, at which only the pope can celebrate Mass. His popularity is indicated by the fact that in 1600 he was acclaimed by three million pilgrims to Rome.