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Death of Pius IV.-Closing of the Council of Trent.--Ranke's Remarks
on the work of the Council. -Action of the work of the Council on the Character of the Popes. -Anecdote of a plot to assassinate Pius IV.-Michael Ghislieri : his antecedents and character. — Character of the Election.—Conclave which elected Pius IV.Rivalry between Cardinals Farnese and Borromeo.—Representative of the old and of the new time.-Cardinal Altemps.-Anecdote of Borromeo at Florence.—Conclavist's View of Borromeo's character. -Moroni's imprisonment and acquittal on Charge of Heresy held in Conclave to be sufficient reason against his Election. -Borromeo wishes to elect him.-It is found impossible, however, to elect him. Duplicity of Farnese towards Borromeo.—Cardinals Ferrara and D’Este hostile to Morono, and why.-Farnese and Borromeo agree to the Election of Ghislieri.-Dismay in Conclave at the result accomplished in the Election of Pius V.
Pius IV. reigned very nearly six years. He died on the 10th of December, 1565, having had the great pleasure and triumph of closing the Council of Trent two years previously. It has often been said that the work accomplished by the great Council was a fatal one for the Church. It was called for the reformation of abuses which it failed to reform; and it finally fixed and clenched doctrines which must ever act as a burning of their ships by the heads of the Church. The Council has cut off the possibility of retreat from positions which the Church has assumed ; it has consolidated and fixed. doctrines which must sooner or later be exploded and abandoned; and it needs but a sufficiently far look into futurity to see and understand the justification of those
who maintain that the work of the great Council was, and will in time be seen to have been, suicidal. But for the time being it unquestionably strengthened the Church. There had ever been, as Ranke well remarks, a certain alloy of Protestantism within the Church. The Council expelled that virus. If it failed to accomplish aught towards healing the schism which had cut Christendom in half, but had on the contrary made the gulf between the two halves so wide that it seemed impossible to the men of those days—and might well so seem—that any one should pass from the one bank to the other, it at least marked out the frontier lines of the Church's dominion with no faltering or uncertain tracings, and thus enabled the rulers of the territory within the lines to govern it with a firmer and more vigorous sway and a more perfect uniformity of discipline. It also left the Church at peace and accord with the civil powers of the countries which remained faithful to it; and though this prepared the way for the sleepy epoch, when zeal was once more to run low, the more immediate effect was to leave the Popes free to labour for and to stimulate them in the work of more and more completely catholicizing the Church, and enabling their clergy to fasten a surer and tighter grip on the social life of the people.
The results of this intensification of Church action and Church feeling made themselves very sensibly felt by, and were very unmistakably visible in the conduct and fortunes of, the Popes and the makers of them. Pius IV., the third "zealous ” Pope in succession, was already found not to be up to the mark. A Roman
fanatic, conceiving himself to have a mission from God to give the world a worthier and more vigorous Pope, and consequently, to make way for such by removing the occupant of the throne of St. Peter, had determined to assassinate Pius IV. He found an accomplice; and the two men—their names were Accolti, the principal, and Canossa, the assistant-armed took up their positions in a spot which the Pope was about to pass in a procession. Pius, unguarded, and wholly unsuspicious of any man in a city, to all whose inhabitants he had ever done good and not evil, came on tranquilly walking in the ranks of the procession. Nothing could have been easier than to strike him down. But the majesty which hedges a Pope was too much for the intending assassin. He trembled, turned pale, and stood as if paralyzed, while the Pope passed unharmed and unconscious. But Canossa, the original fanatic's recruit, was not only unnerved by the Pope's presence, but was moved afterwards by his conscience to confess the design; and both he and Accolti perished on the scaffold. The value of the anecdote consists only in the indication afforded by it of the religious temper of the time, which had been heated to such a pitch of fanaticism, that the religious zeal of a Pope who, eager for the interests of the Church as he was, disliked the Inquisition, and would fain have persecuted no man, was not enough to satisfy it.
The next Conclave found the means of contenting the temper of the times, for it gave as the fourth in the series of zealous Popes, and the culmination of it, one whom the Church has canonized—the last Pontiff whom
she has yet enrolled in her list of saints, perhaps not the last whom we may see so enrolled.
This was Michael Ghislieri, who ascended the Papal throne in 1572 as Pius, now Saint Pius, V. In this man the rigorous and ascetic party in the Church, then by so remarkable a return of the oscillating pendulum of public feeling in the ascendant, saw with delight and triumph a resuscitation of the spirit of Paul IV. Born of humble parents in the village of Bosco, near Alexandria, in Piedmont, he had entered a Dominican convent at the age of fourteen, and had from the very beginning of his career given himself body and soul to the most rigorous practice of all the austerities, and heart and mind to the assimilation of the sternest and most unbending maxims of the most fiercely intolerant of all the orders. This was at the time when the doctrines of the reformation were beginning to make some little show of progress in Italy—when an Olympia Morata had to fly across the Alps, and a Vittoria Colonna might have had to accompany her had heresy been as easy in a palace as in a professor's garret, or had the velléités of a princess been scrutinised as closely as those of a poor professor's wife; and it was to do the work that had to be done in such times that Michael Ghislieri, while yet at an early age, was deemed the fitting instrument, and was intrusted with the terrible powers of an Inquisitor. Called on to exercise his functions in the districts around Como and Bergamo, where the communications of the people with the Swiss and Germans made the task an especially arduous one, he allowed no consideration to interfere
with the uncompromising discharge of his harshest duties. No danger to life, often imminent, ever caused him to pause or spare to strike. And when the cause he thus supported became the victorious one, when the last spark of free thought was quenched by faggot and sword in Italy, Michael Ghislieri was naturally carried upward by the rising fortunes of his party. He was named Commissary of the Inquisition in Rome; and that kindred spirit, Paul IV., was not slow to perceive that Fra Michele was in truth a great servant of God, and worthy of being called to the high places in his Church. He named him Bishop of Nepi, and in 1557, Ghislieri being then fifty-three, made him a cardinal. In the purple he in no degree relaxed the poverty and austerity of his life, telling those of his household that those who lived with him must live as if they were in a convent, and giving his own life wholly to ascetic practices and the duties of his position as inquisitor.
Such was the man whom the Conclave which assembled on the death of the kindly Pius IV. set over themselves and over Christendom. And it was certainly one of the few elections to which the historians of the Church may point in justification of their theory, that the results of them are overruled by the special providence of the Almighty.
More than fifty cardinals went into Conclave after the death of Pius IV; and it was thought that a number of electors so unusually large for those days would have made the election very difficult, and the Conclave consequently a long one. But those, remarks the con