The M+G+R Foundation

The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

1585-1591 A.D.


Sixtus V : 1585-1590 A.D.

227. Born in Grottammare. Elected May 1st 1585 - died August 27, 1590.

He resumed the already begun reformation of the Church and was very strict. He completed the works of the Cupola of St. Peter and the obelisk on the square.

Sixtus V was the Pope of the obelisks; he ordered the construction of four obelisks in Piazza S. Pietro, Piazza dell'Esquilino, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza del Quirinale.

The building of the obelisk in St. Peter's square, by the architect Domenico Fontana, lead to the legend of the famous "water for the ropes".

He commissioned the richly decorated palace that contains the Holy Stairs, which is said to have been in Pilate's praetorial.

He chose the name Sixtus and was the last Pope bearing this name.

He regulated the issue of the Patron Saint: only one for each town, to be elected by the people and the local clergy.

He was the first Pope to die in the Quirinale Palace.

He was buried in the Chapel of the Holy Crib in S. Maria Maggiore. His pontificate lasted 5 years and 4 months.


Urban VII : 1590 A.D.

228. Born in Rome. Elected September 15, 1590 - died September 27, 1590.

He had a good and merciful character.

He wanted to base his government on the Trent decrees but was affected by malaria.

He left all his fortune to charity.

He died after 13 days of pontificate.

He ordered to cover the nakedness of the statue of the Truth on Paul Ill's sepulchre in St. Peter's.

He was buried in the Church of S. Maria sopra Minerva.


Gregory XIV : 1590-1591 A.D.

229. Born in Cremona. Elected December 8, 1590 - died October 1591.

He was a strict man, with an ascetic nature, who was cheated by his inefficient councillors.

He confirmed the right to asylum in the Embassies of the Holy See. He excommunicated Henry IV who co-operated with the reformists and then abjured.

He excommunicated Henry IV of Navarra who in order to obtain the throne of France, declared: "Paris is well worth a Mass!".

He was buried in the Basilica of St. Peter. His pontificate lasted only 10 months.


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