Pope Sixtus V

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Pope Sixtus V (13 December 1520 – 27 August 1590), born Felice Peretti di Montalto, was Pope from 1585 to 1590.[1]



Early life

The chronicler Andrija Zmajević believed that Felice's family originated from modern-day Croatia/Montenegro[2]. Felice's father, Piergentile di Giacomo, had been born in Bjelske Kruševice, a village near Bijela in the Bay of Kotor, into the Croatian[3] Šišić family; moving to Italy to escape the Turkish invasion, and settling in Ancona as a gardener and subsequently a swineherd.

Felice Peretti was born in December 1520 at Grottammare, in the Papal States, to Piergentile, nicknamed "Peretto", and Marianna da Frontillo. Felice later adopted "Peretti" as his family name in 1551, but was more generally known as "di Montalto"[4]. He was reared in poverty; born in a shanty allegedly so ill-thatched that the sun shone through the roof, he later jested that he was "nato di casa illustre" — born of an illustrious (i.e. "illuminated") house.

Not much else is recorded about Peretti's family, but when he eventually became Pope Sixtus V, the church of Saint Jerome in Rome was rebuilt to be used specifically for the people who spoke the Illyrian language. He also established a college of eleven Slavonic clerics in his papal bull Sapientiam Sanctorum of 1 August 1589. This was later transformed into the Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome.

At an early age he entered a Franciscan friary at Montalto and was known as Felice di Montalto. He soon gave evidence of rare ability as a preacher and a dialectician. A legend has it that while a friar he was approached by the ageing Nostradamus who knelt, kissed the friar's robe and then exclaimed he was kissing the robe of the future pope[citation needed].

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