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Giovanni Morone

Giovanni Morone or Moroni (25 January 1509 - 1 December 1580) was an Italian cardinal. He was named Bishop of Modena in 1529 and was created Cardinal in 1542 by Pope Paul III. As a cardinal, he resided in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and was consulted by Saint Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits.[1]




Early life and ordination

Stemma of Cardinal Morone

Morone was born in Milan, on January 25, 1509, where his father, Count Girolamo Morone (d. 1529), was grand chancellor[2].   His father, who had been imprisoned for opposing encroachments on the liberties of Milan by Charles V (whom he afterwards cordially supported), removed to Modena, where his youngest son had most of his early education. Proceeding to Padua he studied jurisprudence with distinction. In return for important service rendered by his father, he was, on April 7, 1529, at the age of 20, nominated by Pope Clement VII to the see of Modena[3] as a demonstration of gratitude[4]. His father Girolamo had been one of the commissioners who negotiated the terms of the release of the Pope from imprisonment in the Castel St. Angelo in 1527 during the Sack of Rome. Giovanni was seven years too young to be consecrated a bishop, and in any event his appointment was disputed by the future Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, son of the Duke of Ferrara, who claimed that the Pope had promised the See of Modena and a Cardinalate for him in a treaty of November 14, 1528[5]. D'Este was finally bought off with an annual pension. Giovanni Morone was finally ordained priest and consecrated bishop on January 12, 1533.

Diplomatic missions

From 1535 he was repeatedly entrusted by Pope Paul III with diplomatic missions; first, he went with a mission to France to King Francis I to attempt to arrange a peace with the Emperor[6]; then he was sent as nuncio in 1536 to Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, then in 1539-1540 to Hagenau and Worms in an attempt to reclaim those areas for the Catholic Church[7]. Morone was legate to the Diet of Speyer (1542)[8] having successfully resisted the transfer of the diet to Hagenau on account of the plague (1540). On the 31st of May 1542 he was created Cardinal Priest, and on October 16, 1542 assigned the titulus of San Vitale[9]. He was further nominated protector of England, Hungary, Austria, of the Order of St. Benedict, the Cistercian Order and the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), and of the Santa Casa at Loreto[10]. With the cardinals Pier Paolo Parisio and Reginald Pole he was deputed to open the Council of Trent (November 1, 1542-July 6, 1543), the choice of that place of meeting having been a concession to his diplomacy. The legates arrived on the 22nd of November, but no council assembled; proceedings were suspended and postponed until 1545. He was appointed instead to be Papal Legate to Bologna, from April 2, 1544 to July 13, 1548. His vice-Legate was Giannangelo de' Medici, who became Pope Pius IV. On February 25, 1549, he opted for the Cardinalatial titulus of San Stefano in Monte Celio (San Stefano Rotondo)[11]. The death of Paul III on November 10, 1549, deprived him of a good friend.

He participated in the Conclave of 1549, where his friend and fellow President of the Council of Trent, Reginald Pole, came close to being elected pope[12].

Relations with Protestants

The views of the Reformers had spread in his diocese, and he was suspected of temporizing with them. He resigned (1550) in favor of the Dominican Egidio Foscherari, reserving to himself an annual pension and the patronage of livings. Later, he founded the diocesan seminary. On December 11, 1553, he opted for the titulus of San Lorenzo in Lucina[13], which meant a greater income. Pope Julius III, at the instance of the Duke of Milan, gave him the rich see of Novara (which he resigned in 1560 for the Suburbicarian See of Albano) and sent him as nuncio to the diet of Augsburg (1555), from which he was immediately recalled by the death of Julius III (March 23, 1555).

He participated in the Conclave of April 5-10, 1555, which saw the election of Cardinal Marcello Cervini as Pope Marcellus II[14]. Unfortunately Marcellus died after only twenty-two days in office. A second Conclave in May, on the nomination of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and Cardinal Ippolito d' Este, elected (May 23) the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Gianpietro Carafa, the Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition. This was much to the distaste of the Emperor, who was aware of Carafa's deep hatred of the Spanish and his religious fanaticism.

Incarceration on orders of the Pope

Morone opted for the titulus of Santa Maria in Trastevere on June 12, 1556[15]. But on May 31, 1557, on direct orders of Pope Paul IV, carried out by his nephew, Cardinal Carlo Carafa, Morone was imprisoned in the Castel Sant'Angelo (with others, including Bishop Egidio Foscherari), on suspicion of the Lutheran heresy[16]. The College of Cardinals, led by their Dean, Cardinal du Bellay, demanded a Consistory the next day, and the Pope was forced to explain himself. He stated that there had been questions about the orthodoxy of Cardinal Morone since the time of Paul III, and he also attacked Cardinal Pole. He insisted that Morone remain in the hands of the Inquisition for a future time when all the Cardinals would be summoned to judge his case[17]. A commission of Cardinals was appointed to conduct the interrogations, among whom was Cardinal Michele Ghislieri (the future Pope Pius V), Cardinal Scipione Rebiba, Cardinal Giovanni Reuman Suau, and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese[18]. The prosecution entirely failed, the Cardinals having found no grounds for any of the charges. Morone might have had his liberty, and the Suburbicarian Bishopric of Albano, but refused to leave prison unless Paul IV publicly acknowledged his innocence. Paul IV, a former Inquisitor who believed that the Inquisition was never wrong, refused to admit his error, and therefore Morone remained incarcerated until the pope's death (Aug. 18, 1559). It is believed that Paul IV published his Cum ex Apostolatus Officio[19] to prevent Cardinal Morone from being elected the next Pope because he suspected Morone of being in league with Protestants[20]. As events turned out, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo de' Medici was elected, and took the name Pope Pius IV[21]. Morone did have the great pleasure of making the acquaintance of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo at that Conclave, and Borromeo conceived a very high opinion of Moroni's virtues.

Upon the election of Pius IV, Morone's name was cleared publicly, and he accepted the office of Cardinal Bishop of Albano[22], which he exchanged for that of Sabina in 1561, then Palestrina in 1562, and Porto and Santa Rufina in 1565. In 1564 he had the pleasure of receiving back from Pius IV the diocese of Modena, upon the decease of the incumbent, and he held the post until 1571.   In 1566 he was a candidate at the Conclave summoned to elect a successor to Pius IV. He had the support of the Emperor and the Spanish, and was supported by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo; but the French faction and some of the Italian princes (Ferrara and Florence) were able to exclude him from the Papal Throne[23]. Even Cardinal Ghislieri, his old Inquisitor under Paul IV, worked against him, though he had earlier declared him innocent. Now, he let it be known that he had reconsidered the case of Cardinal Morone, and could not bring himself to vote for him to be Pope[24]. Nonetheless, Morone received as many as twenty-nine votes in the scrutinies, a majority, but not the two-thirds majority (35) needed to elect. Ghislieri himself was elected, no doubt a complete coincidence, having nothing to do with Ghislieri's stated view on his principal opponent, and took the name of Pope Pius V.[25]

He became Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1570, and assumed the Bishopric of Ostia and Velletri[26] which went with the Deanship. In that capacity he presided over the Conclave of 1572, which elected Ugo Boncompagni as Pope Gregory XIII [27] . As Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, he was attentive to the implementation of the decrees of the Council of Trent, especially as regards the holding of regular diocesan synods. On June 3, 1573, a Synod took place under his authority in the Diocese of Veletri, with his Suffragan bishop, Lorenzo Bernardini, presiding. In October, 1579, the Cardinal Bishop himself presided. The original Acta are preserved, with his handwriting and seal on them.[28]

Years as a senior statesman

Morone continued to explore issues within the Church and between Catholics and Protestants in hopes of reuniting the two sides. He commissioned Nicholas Sander to research the progress of Protestantism in England, resulting in the publication of the Report on the State of England in 1560. In 1562, Morone assisted Pius IV in restarting the Council of Trent. He served as its last chair under Pius IV and helped the Council to create the Tridentine Creed.

When the festival of the Jubilee of 1575 began in Rome, Cardinal Morone presided over the ceremony of the opening of the Holy Door, through which hoardes of pilgrims would pass, at the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le mure on the Via Ostiensis. In 1575, likewise he was invited to join a legation which included Matteo Senarega, a minister of the Emperor and a minister of the King of Spain, to visit Genoa, which had fallen into complete disorder because of civil strife[29]. Morone was able to bring peace to the troubled city with a new civic constitution, the major part of which was written by Morone. Next year he was asked to attend the Diet at Ratisbon, in the presence of the Emperor Maximilian II, and his very presence had the effect of calming the participants. In 1578 he was sent to Flanders to restore peace to that unhappy territory, but (as might have been expected) he was unable to achieve his goal[30].

He died on December 1, 1580, and was buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva[31], the headquarters of the Dominicans, whose Protector he was.


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Giovanni Morone". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.  
  2. ^ Girolamo Rossi, Vita di Girolamo Morone (Oneglia, 1865). Carlo Gioda, Girolamo Morone e i suoi tempi: studio storico (Milano: Paravia 1887).
  3. ^ Diocesi di Modena
  4. ^ Giuseppe Cappelletti, Le chiese d' Italia Volume 15 (Venezia 1859), 287. Frédéric Sclopis, Le cardinal Jean Morone (Paris 1869), 2. One sometimes sees the date of 1527, as in Nicola Bernabei, Vita del Cardinale Giovanni Morone Vescovo di Modena (Modena 1885), 3. But this is an error. Ercole Cardinal Rangoni was Bishop of Modena from September 12, 1520, until his death in Castel St. Angelo on August 25, 1527, during the siege. His successor as bishop was Cardinal Piero Gonzaga on November 21, 1527, and he died on January 28, 1529.
  5. ^ Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa Tomo Quarto (Roma 1793), 240.
  6. ^ Cardella, 240-241.
  7. ^ Franz Dittrich (editor), Nuntiaturberichte Giovanni Morones vom deutschen Königshofe 1539. 1540. (Paderborn 1892).
  8. ^ Frédéric Sclopis, Le cardinal Jean Morone , 5-9.
  9. ^ Cardinal-Priests of the titulus of San Vitale
  10. ^ Cardella, 242.
  11. ^ Cardinal-Priests of the titulus of San Stefano
  12. ^ Conclave of 1549. Dr. J. P. Adams
  13. ^ Cardinal-Priests of San Lorenzo in Lucina
  14. ^ Conclave of 1555. Dr. J. P. Adams
  15. ^ Cardinal-Priests of the titulus of Santa Maria in Trastevere
  16. ^ Massimo Firpo, Inquisizione romana e controriforma: studi sul cardinal Giovanni Morone e il suo processo d'eresia (Bologna: II Mulino, 1992).
  17. ^ Sclopis, 89-91, an anonymous report of the events of the two days, found in the Ambrosian Library.
  18. ^ Morone names them himself in his written defense to the charges: Cesare Cantù, "Il Cardinale Giovanni Morone," Illustri Italiani Volume II (Milano: Brigola, 1873), 393-465, at p. 421.
  19. ^ Cantù, pp. 440-442.
  20. ^ Cardella 242-243: ...furono deputati quattro Cardinali per esaminare la sua causa, tra questi vi fu il Cardinale Michele Ghislieri poi Summo Pontifice col nome di Pio V., il quale avendo sottoposto il Morone a rigidissimo esame in ordine a tutti gli articoli, de' quali era accusato, alla fine pronunciò, che era astatto innocente, e restiticollo all presenze di Paolo IV., quantunque poi si opponesse quando si tratto di farlo Papa. Ebbe dunque il Morone la libertà di sortire dal suo carcere, ma ricusò di aprofittarne, sintanto che il Papa non avesse renduta esatta giustizia alla sua innocenza. Paolo IV. tuttavia ne disserì l' assoluzione, forse per tema di no condannare se medesimo, e lo, e lo lascio prigione fino al Pontificato di Pio IV., in cui rivedutasi con la più squisita, ed esatta diligenza da due Cardinali maggiori di ogni eccezione, cioè dal Puteo, e dal prelodato Ghislieri, la sua causa, fu datto stesso Pontefice Pio IV., non solo giustificato, ma di puù dichiarato in pieno concistorio innocente, e ingiustamente carcerato, e della cattolica religione fervido zelatore, e uomo per insigne pietà riguardevole, e chiaro.
  21. ^ Conclave of 1559. Dr. J. P. Adams
  22. ^ Cardinal-Bishops of the Suburbicarian See of Albano
  23. ^ F. Petruccelli della Gattina, Histoire diplomatique des conclaves Volume II (Paris: 1864), 208-235. T. Adolphus Trollope, The Papal Conclaves, as the were and as they are (London 1876), 250-257.
  24. ^ Conclavi de' Pontifici Romani (Cologne 1692), 292-334, at p. 310:   Le creature di Paolo Quarto, erano poche, e trà esse era il Cardinal d' Araceli (D' Olera), il quale, per non alienarse Borromeo, haveva promesso di dare l' ultimo accesso, di maniere che molti stavano sospeti, e fr` esse il Cardinal Alessandro (Ghislieri) apertamente diceva, che in conscienza sua non poteva eleggere Morone Papa, mà che nondimeno non s' opponeva alla conscienza degli altri, ne diceva che non potessero eleggerlo per l' imputatione daragli nelle cose della Religione.
  25. ^ >Conclave of 1566. Dr. J. P. Adams
  26. ^ Cardinal-Bishops of the Suburbicarian See of Ostia and Velletri
  27. ^ Conclave of 1572. Dr. J. P. Adams
  28. ^ Tommaso Bauco, Storia della città di Veletri edizione seconda Volume II (Veletri 1851), 90-91.
  29. ^ Sclopis, 67-79. In 1528 the famous Genoese admiral, Andrea Doria, having driven out the French garrison, restored the Republic of Genoa in an assembly which produced a new constitution on September 13, 1528, sharing power between the Old Nobility, the New Nobility, and the People. This constitution was modified by Doria in 1547, in the face of continued civil strife, involving as well the Adorno and Fregoso families; it was called the garibetto. Doria died in 1560, and the internal situation of Genoa continually deteriorated, causing alarm throughout Italy, especially to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco de' Medici, and the Prince of Piedmont, Emmanuel Philibert. In 1575, in a period of terror, the Genoese Senate abolished the garibetto, and a civil war began, made no less dangerous because Genoa was the port for fifty galleons of the navy of Don John of Austria, half-brother of King Philip II of Spain. Gregory XIII intervened in the name of Italian liberty and tranquillity.
  30. ^ Cardella, 243.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Pirro Gonzaga
Bishop of Modena
Succeeded by
Egidio Foscherani
Preceded by
Giulio della Rovere
Bishop of Novara
Succeeded by
Giovanni Antonio Serbelloni
Preceded by
Egidio Foscherani
Bishop of Modena
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Pedro Pacheco de Villena
Cardinal-bishop of Albano
Succeeded by
Cristoforo Madruzzo
Preceded by
Robert de Lenoncourt
Cardinal-bishop of Sabina
Succeeded by
Alessandro Farnese
Preceded by
Federico Cesi
Cardinal-bishop of Frascati
1562-1562 and 1564-1565
Succeeded by
Alessandro Farnese
Preceded by
Federico Cesi
Cardinal-bishop of Palestrina
Succeeded by
Cristoforo Madruzzo
Preceded by
Federico Cesi
Cardinal-bishop of Porto
Succeeded by
Cristoforo Madruzzo
Preceded by
Francesco Pisani
Cardinal-bishop of Ostia
Succeeded by
Alessandro Farnese

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