Pope Marcellus II

Pope Marcellus II (6 May 1501 – 1 May 1555), born Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 9 April 1555[1] until his death 22 days later on 1 May 1555.

He succeeded Pope Julius III. Before his accession as pope he had been Cardinal-Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. He is the most recent pope to choose to retain his birth name as his regnal name upon his accession, as well as only the second and most recent pope to date to take the name "Marcellus" upon being elected. After his death, it would be 423 years before another pope would choose a name with an ordinal number less than IV (John Paul I).


Marcellus II
Bishop of Rome
222-Marcellus II
Papacy began9 April 1555
Papacy ended1 May 1555
PredecessorJulius III
SuccessorPaul IV
Consecration10 April 1555
by Gian Pietro Carafa
Created cardinal19 December 1539
by Paul III
Personal details
Birth nameMarcello Cervini degli Spannochi
Born6 May 1501
Montefano, Marche, Papal States
Died1 May 1555 (aged 53)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of armsMarcellus II's coat of arms
Other popes named Marcellus
Papal styles of
Pope Marcellus II
C o a Marcello II
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone
Pope Marcellus II


Early life

A native of Montefano, a small village near Macerata and Loreto[2] he was the son of Ricardo Cervini who was the Apostolic Treasurer in Ancona.[3] The family originated in Tuscany, in the town of Montepulciano, which had once been subject to Siena, but later was under the control of Florence. Marcello had two half-brothers, Alexander and Romulus.[4] One of his sisters, Cinzia Cervini, married Vincenzo Bellarmino, and was the mother of Saint Robert 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.[5] His father 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.[6]


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. In 1527, he fled home after the Sack of Rome, but eventually returned and was taken into the household of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese senior. Cervini was ordained a priest in 1535.


In 1534, after Farnese had become pope Pope Paul III, Cervini was appointed a papal secretary (1534–49) and served as a close advisor to the pope's nephew Alessandro Farnese. He was made a papal Protonotarius.[7] 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.[3] His house in Rome became a center of Renaissance culture, and he himself corresponded with most of the leading humanists[8]

During the Council of Trent he was elected one of the council's three presidents,[1] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

Coat of arms marcellus II
Coat of Arms of Pope Marcellus II

In the conclave of 1549–50 to elect a successor to Paul III, fifty-one cardinals, including Marcello Cervini, participated at the opening on 3 December 1549. The initial candidates included Cardinals Pole, Sfondrati, Carpi and Ridolfi (who died on the night of 31 January). Pole, the favorite of the Emperor Charles V, came within two votes of being elected in the first scrutinies, but he could not attract any additional votes. Juan Álvarez de Toledo (Bishop of Burgos), another Imperial favorite, was proposed, and he too failed, because of strong opposition from the faction of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, nephew of the late Pope Paul III and from the French.

On 12 December, five more French voters arrived, and though they could not advance the candidacy of their favorite, Ippolito d' Este, they did have Cardinal Cervini on their list of possible candidates. Farnese and his faction were also positively inclined toward him. Unfortunately, the Imperial faction was not.[12] Worst of all, on 22 December, Cardinal Cervini left the Conclave, suffering from a quartan fever. Finally, on 7 February 1550, the cardinals chose Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, who took the name Julius III.[13]

Papal election

The first conclave of 1555, following the death of Julius III (1550–55), involved a struggle between French interests in Italy (which had been favored by Julius III) and Imperial interests, which were intent on Church reform through a Church council, but with the Emperor controlling the outcome.[14] On 9 April 1555, on the evening of the fourth day of the papal conclave, Cervini was "adored" as Pope, despite efforts by cardinals loyal to the Emperor Charles V to block his election.[6] Next morning, a formal vote was taken in the Capella Paolina, in which all of the votes cast were for Cardinal Cervini except his own, which he cast for the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, Giampietro Carafa.

The new Pope chose to retain his birth name, the most recent Pope to do so, reigning as Marcellus II. He was both ordained [consecrated] as a bishop and crowned Pope on the next day in a subdued ceremony on account of it falling during the Lenten season.[15]


Though Marcellus II desired to reform many of the inner workings of the church, his feeble constitution succumbed to the fatigues of the conclave, the exhausting ceremonies connected with his ascension, the anxieties arising from his high office, and overexertion in his performance of the pontifical functions of the Holy Week and Easter.[16] He quickly fell ill.

He was bled, and appeared to begin to recover. In an audience he gave to the Cardinals, who wanted him to sign the Electoral Capitulations from the conclave and to guarantee that he would make no more cardinals than those agreements allowed, he refused to sign, stating that he would show his intent by deeds not words. In his first audience with the Ambassadors of France and Spain, he warned the Ambassadors that their monarchs should keep the peace that had been agreed upon, and that if they did not, not only would they be sent Nuncios and Legates, but that the Pope himself would come and admonish them. He wrote letters to the Emperor, to Queen Mary I of England, and to Cardinal Reginald Pole (in which he confirmed Pole's Legateship in England).[17] When the Spanish Ambassador asked for pardon for having killed a man, the Pope replied that he did not want to start his reign with such auspices as absolution from homicide, and ordered the appropriate tribunals to observe the law.

He did not want his relatives descending on Rome, nor did he want them to be enriched beyond the station of a member of the nobility, and he did not allow his two nephews, Riccardo and Herennius (sons of his half-brother Alexander), who lived in Rome under his care, to have formal visits. He instituted immediate economies in Vatican expenditures. On 28 April, he was able to receive the Duke of Urbino in audience, and on 29 April, the Duke of Ferrara. He also gave audience to four cardinals, Farnese, D'Este, Louis de Guise and Ascanio Sforza, the leaders of the French faction in the recent conclave. That night he had difficulty sleeping. On the morning of the 30th he suffered a stroke (hora XII apoplexi correptus) and slipped into a coma. That night he died, on the 22nd day after his election.[6]


Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli (dating from 1565 or before[18]), one of the glories of polyphonic sacred choral music, is traditionally believed to have been composed in his memory, ca. 1562.[3] Having reigned for just 22 calendar days, Pope Marcellus II ranks sixth on the list of 10 shortest-reigning Popes. His successor was Giampietro Carafa, Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, who reigned as Pope Paul IV (1555–59).

See also


  1. ^ a b Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Marcellus (popes)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 685.
  2. ^ Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa Tomo Quarto (Roma: Pagliarini 1793) pp. 225.
  3. ^ a b c Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Marcellus II (1913)
  4. ^ Onofrio Panvinio, "Marcellus II" in Historia B. Platina de vitis pontificum Romanorum ... ad Paulum II...annotation Onuphrius Panvini ... cui, eiusdem Onuphrius ... Pontificum vitae usque ad Pium V (Coloniae: apud: Maternum Cholinium MDLXIII) [Panvinio, "Life of Marcellus II"], 423.
  5. ^ Cardella, 225: Nella patria, in Siena, in Firenze attese allo studio delle lingue latina, greca, e italiana, e in tutte scriveva con gran facilità, ed eleganza. Non trascurò le scienze più gravi, e nella giurisprudenza, filosofia, e mattematica, fece lieti progressi.
  6. ^ a b c Valérie Pirie. The Triple Crown: An Account of the Papal Conclaves From the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1936.
  7. ^ Panvinio, 424.
  8. ^ Cardella, 226: la di lui famiglia piena fosse di uomini dotti, scientifici, e letterati, ed egli mantenesse stretta corrispondenza con Angelo Coluzio, Costantino Lascari, ed altri uomini dotti, ed eruditi di quei tempi.
  9. ^ Isidoro Carini, La Biblioteca Vaticana seconda edizione (Roma 1893), 59–61.
  10. ^ Domenico Zanelli, La Biblioteca Vaticana (Roma 1`857) 28–29.
  11. ^ Zanelli, loc. cit.
  12. ^ Prof. John P. Adams, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures (13 November 2012). "Sede Vacante of 1549–1550". Csun.edu. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  13. ^ Onuphrio Panvinio, "Marcellus II" in Historia B. Platinae de vitis pontificum Romanorum ... ad Paulum II...annotationum Onuphrii Panvinii ... cui, eiusdem Onuphrii ... Pontificum vitae usque ad Pium V (Colonia: apud: Maternum Cholinum MDLXVIII), 425: Defuncto Paulo III quum in eius locum isdem Cardinalius Iulius III vocatus, quo cum arctissimae amicitiae nexu coniunctus erat, pontifex factus esset, absens (conclave enim adversa valetudine conflictatus exierat) primum per nuntium ei gratulatus est, mox viribus parumper recuperatis, cum Urbe egredi ad salubriora loca medicorum consilio statuisset, se sellae impositus, ad Pontificem deferri curavit.
  14. ^ Prof. John P. Adams, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures (13 November 2012). "Sede Vacante of April, 1555". Csun.edu. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  15. ^ Onuphrio Panvinio, who was present, recorded the event: "Anno Dominicae Nativitatis MDLV, postridie quam PP Marcellus creatus est, videlicet die Mercurii IIII Idus Aprilis [10 April 1555], maioris hebdomadae, instantibus magnis solennibus, Coenae Domini, Veneris Sancti, & Paschatis, ne tot solennitates sine Pontifice (qui sacra omnia faceret) transigerentur, quum prius in aurora eius creatio, more Maiorum, per Archidiaconum S.R.E. Franciscum Pisanum Venetum, Diac. Cardinalem S. Marci, in Palatio facta esset, haud multo post ante aram maximam principis Apostolorum suae coronationis & Romani Pontificatus insignia per eundem Archidiaconum suscepit, data benedictione a Ioanne Bellaio Episcopo Cardinale Portuensi & S. Rufinae." (Onuphrio Panvinio, Epitome Pontificum Romanorum a S. Petro usque ad Paulum IIII. Gestorum (videlicet) electionisque singulorum & Conclavium compendiaria narratio (Venice: Jacob Strada 1557), p. 423.)
  16. ^ Panvinio, "Life of Marcellus II", 430: Quum satis (ut dixi) firmus non esset viribus, & propterea anno superiori diu etiam febre laborasset, corpore quoque tam comitiorum incommodis, quam obeundis publicis muneribus, quae vetere Christiani populi instituto, annuis Dominici Cruciatus [Good Friday] & Resurrectionis [Easter] diebus per Maximum Pontificem fieri consuerunt, fatigato, duodecimo pontificatus die gravius e pituita, & non levi febre decubuit.
  17. ^ Paul Friedmann (editor), Les dépêches de Giovanni Michiel, Ambassadeur de Venise en Angleterre pendent les années 1554–1557 (Venice 1869), p. 36, dispatch of 6 May 1555. This is confirmed by Sir John Masone, the English ambassador in Bruxelles: William B. Turnbull (editor), Calendar of State Papers, Foreign Series, of the Reign of Mary, 1553–1558 (London 1861), p. 164 #348 (26 April 1555).
  18. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1913).
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Julius III
9 April – 1 May 1555
Succeeded by
Paul IV
1549–50 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1549–50 (November 29 – February 7), convened after the death of Pope Paul III and eventually elected Giovanni Del Monte to the papacy as Pope Julius III. It was the second-longest papal conclave of the 16th century, and (at the time) the largest papal conclave in history in terms of the number of cardinal electors. The cardinal electors (who at one point totalled fifty-one) were roughly divided between the factions of Henry II of France, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and Alessandro Farnese, the cardinal-nephew of Paul III.Noted for the extensive interference of European powers, the conclave was to determine whether and on what terms the Council of Trent would reconvene (supported by Charles V and opposed by Henry II) and the fate of the Duchies of Parma and Piacenza (claimed by both Charles V and the House of Farnese). Although the conclave nearly elected Reginald Pole, the late arrival of additional French cardinals pushed the conclave back into deadlock, and eventually Giovanni del Monte was elected Pope Julius III as a compromise candidate.

The French hoped that Julius III would be hostile to the interests of the Holy Roman Empire. Nevertheless, tensions between him and the French boiled over when he reconvened the Council of Trent in November 1550, culminating in the threat of schism in August 1551 and the brief War of Parma fought between French troops allied with Ottavio Farnese and a papal-imperial army. French prelates did not attend the 1551–1552 sessions of the Council of Trent and were slow to accept its reforms; because Henry II would not allow any French cardinals to reside in Rome, many missed the election of Pope Marcellus II, arriving in Rome just in time to elect Marcellus II's successor Pope Paul IV after Marcellus II's brief reign.


Year 1555 (MDLV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

1555 in France

Events from the year 1555 in France.

April 1555 papal conclave

The papal conclave of April 1555 (April 5–9) was convoked after the death of Pope Julius III. Elected as his successor Cardinal Marcello Cervini, who took the name of Marcellus II, being the last pope who retained his baptismal name.

Cristoforo Guidalotti Ciocchi del Monte

Cristoforo Guidalotti Ciocchi del Monte (1484–1564) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Durante Duranti

Durante Duranti (5 October 1507 – 24 December 1557) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Federico Cesi (cardinal)

Federico Cesi (July 2, 1500—January 28, 1565) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Giovanni Battista Cicala

Giovanni Battista Cicala (1510–1570) was an Italian Roman

Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Giovanni Francesco Lottini

Giovanni Francesco (Giovanfrancesco) Lottini (1512 – August 1572 ) was an Italian politician and writer.

Lottini was born in Volterra in 1512. In 1530 he was accused of having seriously injured a fellow resident of Volterra and put on trial. He was secretary of Cosimo I, but in 1542 officially was removed by the same Cosimo I for acts of sodomy, but remained in his service for shady dealings. In February 1548 Cosimo I sent him to Venice, but it was he who prepared the plot against Lorenzino de' Medici, who oddly enough, the very same month, was hit by two killers from Volterra.

Away again from Florence, Lottini moved to Rome where he became secretary of the Cardinal of Santa Fiora. On January 31, 1550 during a conclave, Cardinal Niccolò Ridolfi was poisoned and many blamed Lottini.

In 1552 he obtained from Pope Marcellus II an appointment as canon of Abbey Hill of Piedmont.

In 1555 he entered the papal court, opposing the election of Pope Paul IV, who suffered much. On August 10 he was shut up in the Castel Sant'Angelo.

In 1559 he was at the service of Giovanni Angelo de'Medici as a secretary, who became Pope Pius IV and appointed Lottini Bishop of Conversano in 1560. Lottini however, refused the assignment, instead taking up his wandering life.

Before his death (in Rome, in August 1572) Lottini gave his brother a treatise of considerations and personal notes on different themes, from the military to the care of physical life. The manuscript entitled Avvedimenti Civili was given by his brother to Girolamo, the brother of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1574.

Giovanni Ricci

Giovanni Ricci (November 1, 1498 – May 3, 1574) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Girolamo Doria

Girolamo Doria (1495 – 25 March 1558) was an Italian Roman Catholic cardinal.

Girolamo Verallo

Girolamo Verallo (1497–1555) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Gugliemo Sirleto

Guglielmo Sirleto (or Sirleti) (1514 – 6 October 1585) was an Italian Cardinal and scholar. He was considered the greatest linguist of his age.Sirleto was born at Guardavalle near Stilo in Calabria. The son of a physician, he received an excellent education, made the acquaintance of distinguished scholars at Rome, and became an intimate friend of Cardinal Marcello Cervino, later Pope Marcellus II. He prepared for Cervino, who was President of the Council of Trent in its initial period, extensive reports on all the important questions presented for discussion. After his appointment as custodian of the Vatican Library, Sirleto drew up a complete descriptive catalogue of its Greek manuscripts and prepared a new edition of the Vulgate.

Pope Paul IV named him prothonotary and tutor to two of his nephews. After this pope's death he taught Greek and Hebrew at Rome, numbering Charles Borromeo among his students. There was talk of making him Pope, but it was considered that the drift of his mind was too much given to letters to permit him to run a strong, practical administration in those troubled times.During the concluding period of the Council of Trent, he was, although he continued to reside at Rome, the adviser of the cardinal-legates.

He was himself created cardinal in 1565 at the request of Charles Borromeo, became Bishop of San Marco in Calabria in 1566, and Bishop of Squillace in 1568. An order of the papal secretary of state, however, enjoined his residence at Rome, where he was named, in 1570, librarian of the Vatican Library. This he enriched with many valuable texts on Greek, Latin and Oriental subjects. His influence was paramount in the execution of the scientific undertakings decreed by the Council of Trent.

He collaborated in the publication of the Roman Catechism, presided over the Commissions for the reform of Roman Breviary and Roman Missal, and directed the work of the new edition of the Roman Martyrology. Highly appreciative of Greek culture, he entertained all friendly relations with the East and encouraged all efforts tending to ecclesiastical reunion.

His learning was such that he was reported to discourse in his sleep in Greek and Latin. Latino Latini declared in a letter to Andreas Masius that he considered that Sirleto was equal in learning to all the others who worked on the Vulgate.He was attended in his last illness by Philip Neri. He died at Rome, and was buried in the presence of Pope Sixtus V.

He was a manuscript collector (e.g. Minuscule 373).

Hippolito Salviani

Hippolito Salviani (1514–1572) was an Italian physician, scholar and naturalist, noted for his Renaissance book Aquatilium animalium historiae, depicting hundreds of Mediterranean fish, some from Illyria, and a few mollusks. He also wrote works on medicine, such as that dealing with Galen's theory of crises, and a topical play. Salviani taught at the University of Rome until 1568, after which he was chief physician to the House of Farnese and three successive popes, Pope Julius III, Pope Marcellus II and Pope Paul IV.Salviani was born in Città di Castello. He studied medicine in Rome, developing a great interest in ichthyology and in natural history generally. He enjoyed the financial support of Cardinal Cervini (later Pope Marcellus II), enabling him to explore the Mediterranean coastline. Cervini's death caused Salviani to dedicate the work to Pope Paul IV.

Aristotle's work on fish species is one of the earliest known. In the 1500s fish enjoyed a renewed interest in both France and Italy. 1551 saw the appearance of Pierre Belon’s Histoire naturelle des estranges poissons marins, illustrated by woodcuts. In 1554 Guillaume Rondelet’s De piscibus marinis was published, also using woodcuts. Salviani’s work was published in parts over a period of three years. Its use of copper engraving was well-suited to depicting fish, and greatly superior to woodcuts with its lifelike rendition of eyes and scales. The copper engravings have a scientific appearance, but some details, like the correct number and position of the scales were omitted. Nicolas Béatrizet probably designed the title-page and the fish illustrations were made by Antoine Lafréry. Another theory is that they were drawn by the Italian painter Bernardus Aretinus and engraved by Nicolas Béatrizet. Salviani's Aquatilium animalium only deals with animals personally observed and handled by him. He collected most of the fishes for his studies from the market in Rome.Salviani died in Rome, aged about 58.

May 1555 papal conclave

The papal conclave of May 1555 (Mary 15–23), was convened on the death of Pope Marcellus II (whose reign had only lasted from 9 April to 1 May that year) and elected Pope Paul IV as his successor.

Missa Papae Marcelli

Missa Papae Marcelli, or Pope Marcellus Mass, is a mass sine nomine by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. It is his best-known mass, and is frequently taught in university courses on music. It was sung at the Papal Coronation Masses (the last being the coronation of Paul VI in 1963).


Montefano is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Macerata in the Italian region Marche, located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Ancona and about 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of Macerata.

Montefano borders the following municipalities: Appignano, Filottrano, Montecassiano, Osimo, Recanati.

Pietro Tagliavia d'Aragonia

Pietro Tagliavia d'Aragonia (died 1558) was an Italian Roman

Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Pope Marcellus

Pope Marcellus may refer to two Roman Catholic popes:

Pope Marcellus I (reigned 308–309)

Pope Marcellus II (reigned 1555)

1st–4th centuries
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
5th–8th centuries
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
Frankish Papacy (756–857)
9th–12th centuries
Papal selection before 1059
Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
Crescentii era (974–1012)
Tusculan Papacy (1012–1044/1048)
Imperial Papacy (1048–1257)
13th–16th centuries
Viterbo (1257–1281)
Orvieto (1262–1297)
Perugia (1228–1304)
Avignon Papacy (1309–1378)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Renaissance Papacy (1417–1534)
Reformation Papacy (1534–1585)
Baroque Papacy (1585–1689)
17th–20th centuries
Age of Enlightenment (c. 1640-1740)
Revolutionary Papacy (1775–1848)
Roman Question (1870–1929)
Vatican City (1929–present)
21st century
History of the papacy
Bible and
By country
of the faithful
Early Church
Late antiquity
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
19th century
20th century
21st century

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.