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Gregory XIII

Pope from 1572. Born at Bologna, Ugo Buoncompagni became a professor of law at Bologna from 1531 to 1539. When Cardinal Parisio brought him to Rome in 1539, Paul III made him first a judge, then responsible to the Council of Trent, and finally vice-chancellor in the Compagna. He was ordained at forty, and under Paul III became bishop of Viesti. After the Council of Trent, Pius IV named him cardinal-priest in 1565. The papal election after Pius’s death quickly resulted in Buoncompagni’s elevation. Gregory XIII took as his motto the words, “Confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought in us.” He was acceptable to Philip II, for in 1565 he had been sent to Spain for the Inquisition’s trial of Carranza, archbishop of Toledo.

Barely three months after his election, Gregory celebrated the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day* with a Te Deum at Rome. His election in 1572 and political events conspired to make him a restorer of Catholicism. Though he failed against England, the Turks, Sweden, and Russia, his pontificate is known as a high point of the Catholic revival. Charles Borromeo* inspired him, while Jesuit support from abroad and founding of the Gregorian University at Rome were solid achievements. The Quirinal Palace and the fountain in the Piazza Navona speak of the Baroque splendor which implemented the ideals of Trent. By 1585 all five points announced at Gregory’s first papal consistory of 1572 had been started. Consolidation of the League against the Turks, fight against heresy by use of the Inquisition, and internal reform by employing Tridentine legislation were realities. In addition there were now friendly relations with the Catholic princes and improved supervision of papal states.