Marcello Spannochi (Marcellus II) elected Pope
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.
A native of Montefano, a small village near Macerata and Loreto he was the son of Ricardo Cervini who was the Apostolic Treasurer in Ancona. 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. 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. 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. 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 Alessandro Cardinal 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. 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. His house in Rome became a center of Renaissance culture, and he himself corresponded with most of the leading humanists.
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. The Apostolic Brief of his appointment, however, came from the new pope, Julius III on May 24, 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. 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.
Born 6 May, 1501, at Montepulciano in Tuscany; died 6 May, 1555, at Rome. His father, Ricardo Cervini, was Apostolic treasurer in the March of Ancona. After studying some time at Siena, he came to Rome, shortly after the accession of Clement VII, in 1523, to continue his studies, and through his purity of life and longing for knowledge gained the respect and friendship of many persons of high influence. Paul III, who had succeeded Clement VII in 1534, appointed him prothonotary apostolic and papal secretary. When, in 1538, Paul III entrusted his youthful nephew, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, with practically the complete management of the temporal affairs of the Church, the prudent and virtuous Cervini was appointed the adviser and private secretary of the young and inexperienced cardinal and as such had a great influence in the papal curia. He accompanied Farnese on his various legations, and in order that he might take actual part in the consultations and negotiations between Farnese and the monarchs of Europe he was created cardinal-priest of the title of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, 19 December, 1539. He had already been appointed to the See of Nicastro, in addition to which he became administrator of the Diocese of Reggio the following year and that of Gubbio in 1544. In 1539 he accompanied Farnese on an important legation to Charles V of Germany and Francis I of France. The purpose of this legation was to induce the two monarchs to send the prelates of their countries to the intended General Council of the Church and to gain their assistance against Henry VIII of England and the Turks.
They had an audience with Francis I at Amiens on 9 February, 1540, and with the emperor at Ghent on the twenty-fourth of the same month, but their mission proved useless. They were already returning to Rome when Cervini received orders from the pope to stay as legate at the imperial court and to represent him at the Diet which the emperor wished to convene at Speyer. When, however, it became evident that the Protestants would be predominant at the Diet and had no desire to come to an understanding with the Catholics, the pope counteracted his order and sent no representative to the Diet which in the meantime had been transferred to Hagenau. In October, 1540, Cervini returned to Rome, not, however, before he had urgently requested the pope to send a representative to the intended Diet of Worms. In a consistory held at Rome on 6 February, 1545, he was appointed one of the three presidents of the Council of Trent. His two colleagues were Cardinals Giovanni Maria del Monte (afterwards Julius III) and Reginald Pole. On 13 March, 1545, he arrived at Trent. During the first period of the Council, i.e. from its opening session on 13 December, 1545, until its prorogation for an indefinite period at Bologna on 14 September, 1547, he fearlessly represented the interests of the pope and the Church against all opposition from the emperor, whose extreme hatred he in consequence incurred. In 1548 he succeeded Agostino Steuco as librarian of the Vatican with the title of "Bibliothecæ Apostolicæ Vaticanæ Protector". Under his protectorate the Vatican library was soon put in a flourishing condition. More than 500 Latin, Greek and Hebrew volumes were added, and new catalogues of the Greek and Latin manuscripts were prepared. As early as 1539 he had induced the pope to have printed at least the most valuable Greek manuscripts. Cervini's public activity was less prominent during the pontificate of Julius III (1550-5). He was replaced as president of the Council of Trent by Marcello Crescenzi in the hope that the emperor would give his support to the presidents of the Council.
After the death of Julius III (23 March, 1555), the cardinals present in Rome, 3 in number, entered the conclave on 4 April, and four days later Cardinal Marcello Cervini was elected pope, although the emperor had instructed his cardinals to prevent his election. Contrary to custom, Cervini, like Adrian VI, retained his old name of Marcello and was called Marcellus II. On the following day, 10 April, he was consecrated bishop, for, though he had administered the Dioceses of Nicastro, Reggio, and Gubbio, he had not yet received episcopal consecration. He was crowned pope on the same day, but without the customary solemnity, on account of the Lenten season. The new pope had been one of those cardinals who were desirous of an inner reform of the Church. While administrator of Reggio he undertook a thorough visitation of the diocese in 1543, and abolished abuses wherever they were found. Immediately upon his accession he took the work of reform in hand; he died after a reign of only 22 days, of a sickness resulting from overexertion during the pontifical functions of Holy Week and Easter. Palestrina entitled one of his famous polyphonic masses "Missa Papæ Marcelli" in his honour. This mass was not, however, as is often asserted, chanted in the presence of Marcellus II; it was not composed until after the death of this pope.
Marcellus II, given name Marcello Cervini, the successor of Pope Julius III, was born on the 6th of May 1501, and was elected pope on the 9th of April 1555. He had long been identified with the rigorist party in the church, and as president of the Council of Trent had incurred the anger of the emperor by his jealous defense of papal prerogative. His motives were lofty, his life blameless, his plans for reform nobly conceived. But death removed him (April 30, 1555) before he could do more than give an earnest of his intentions. He was followed by Pope Paul IV.