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Sixtus V

1521-1590. Pope from 1585. Born at Grottamare, Felice Peretti was educated by the Franciscans of Montalto and took the habit at the age of twelve. Ordained priest in 1547, he soon became a noted preacher and friend of Loyola and Philip Neri. In 1560 he was appointed Consultor of the Inquisition, becoming general of his order and bishop of St. Agata in 1566. In 1570 he was created cardinal by Pius X and was bishop of Fermo from 1571 to 1577, but during the pontificate of Gregory XIII (1572-85) was kept deliberately in the background. In 1585 he was chosen as pope.

At once the somewhat uncritical scholar and book collector showed himself an energetic reformer, suppressing brigandage in the Papal States by frequent executions, reforming the Curia and the cardinalate, over which he asserted papal authority, and placing the finances of Rome on a sounder footing by increased taxation and the elimination of graft. With the help of the architect Fontana he erected massive structures in Rome itself in the then fashionable Rococo style: the Lateran Palace, the Via Sistina, the Vatican Library, and the restored aqueduct renamed after him the Acqua Felice are all his creation. In foreign policy he was less able, trying with some vacillation to restore a balance of power among the Catholic powers and restrain Philip of Spain's ambitions at the expense of France. The revision of the text of the Vulgate known as the Sistine was also begun during this pontificate.