Pope Marcellus II

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Pope Marcellus II (6 May 1501 – 1 May 1555), born Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi, was Pope from 9 April 1555 to 1 May 1555, succeeding Pope Julius III. Before his accession as Pope he had been Cardinal-Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. He was the last Pope not to change his name on his accession, and the last pope numbered anything less than IV before John Paul I.

A native of Montefano, a small village near Macerata and Loreto[1] he was the son of Ricardo Cervini who was the Apostolic Treasurer in Ancona.[2]. The family originated in Tuscany, in the town of Poliziano, which had once been subject to Siena, but later was under the control of Florence. Marcello had two half-brothers, Alexander and Romulus[3]. One of his sisters, Cinzia Cervini, married Vinzenzo Bellarmino, parents of Roberto Bellarmino. Marcello was educated locally, and at Siena and Florence, where he became proficient in writing Latin, Greek, and Italian. He also received instruction in jurisprudence, philosophy, and mathematics[4]. He had an interest in astrology and upon discovering that his son's horoscope presaged high ecclesiastical honours, Riccardo set the young Cervini on a path to the priesthood.[5] Marcello Cervini was ordained a priest in 1535.

After his period of study at Siena, Cervini traveled to Rome in the company of the Delegation sent by Florence to congratulate the new Pope on his election. His father and Pope Clement VII were personal friends, and Marcello was made Scrittore Apostolico. He was set to work on astronomical and calendar studies, a project which was intended to bring the year back into synchronization with the seasons. After the Sack of Rome he fled home, but eventually returned and was taken into the household of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese senior. In 1534, after Farnese had become pope, Cervini was appointed a papal secretary for Pope Paul III (1534–49) and served as a close advisor to the pope's nephew Alessandro Farnese. He was made a papal Protonotarius.[6] He travelled in the suite of the Pope during the papal visit to Nice, where Paul III was promoting a truce between François I and Charles V. He then accompanied the young Cardinal Farnese on a trip to Spain, France and the Spanish Netherlands to help implement the terms of the truce. Paul III later appointed him bishop of Nicastro, Italy in 1539. Cervini was not, however, consecrated bishop until the day he himself was elected pope. While he was still on the embassy to the Netherlands, Paul III created him the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme on 19 December 1539. When, almost immediately after, Cardinal Farnese was recalled to Rome, Cervini stayed on as Nuntius. Over the course of next decade Cervini also became the apostolic administrator of the dioceses of Reggio and Gubbio.[2]. His house in Rome became a center of Renaissance culture, and he himself corresponded with most of the leading humanists[7]

During the Council of Trent he was elected one of the council's three presidents, along with fellow cardinals Reginald Pole and Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte (the future Pope Julius III). He continued to serve in that role throughout the remainder of Paul III's papacy after which he was replaced to placate the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1519–56). He was credited not only with defending orthodoxy and Church discipline, but also the universal claims of the Papacy in spiritual and temporal affairs, and with such vigor that the Emperor was affronted. In 1548 (or 1550) he was granted the supervision of the Vatican Library, with the title of Protettore della Biblioteca Apostolica[8]. The Apostolic Brief of his appointment, however, came from the new pope, Julius III on 24 May 1550, and he was named not Vatican Librarian, but Bibliothecarius Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae because he was the first Cardinal to be in charge of the library [9]. During his administration, he employed the services of Marcello and Sirleto, as well as Onuphrio Panvinio (who was especially consulted in matters of Christian archaeology). He added more than 500 codices to the holdings of the Library, including 143 Greek codices, as his own entry book (which still survives as Vaticanus Latinus 3963) testifies[10].

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