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Ugo Boncompagni was born the son of Cristoforo Boncompagni and of his wife Angela Marescalchi in Bologna, where he studied law and graduated in 1530. He later taught jurisprudence for some years, and his students included notable figures such as Cardinals Alexander Farnese, Reginald Pole, and Charles Borromeo.
At the age of thirty-six, he was summoned to Rome by Pope Paul III, under whom he held successive appointments as the first judge of the capital, abbreviator, and vice-chancellor of the Campagna e Marittima. Pope Paul IV attached him as datarius to the suite of Cardinal Carlo Carafa, Pope Pius IV made him Cardinal-Priest of San Sisto Vecchio and sent him to the Council of Trent. He also served as a legate to Philip II of Spain, being sent by the Pope to investigate the Cardinal of Toledo. He formed a lasting and close relationship with the Spanish King, which aided his foreign policy aims as Pope.
Upon the death of Pope Pius V), the conclave chose Cardinal Boncompagni, who assumed the name of Gregory XIII in homage to Gregory the Great, a 6th-century reforming pope. Gregory XIII’s character seemed to be perfect for the needs of the church at the time. Additionally, his legal brilliance and management abilities meant that he was able to respond and deal with major problems quickly and decisively, although not always successfully.
Once in the chair of Saint Peter, Gregory XIII dedicated himself to reform of the Catholic Church. He implemented the recommendations of the Council of Trent. He mandated that cardinals reside in their sees without exception, and designated a committee to update the Index of Forbidden Books. Gregory XIII was also the patron of a new and greatly improved edition of the Corpus juris canonici. In a time of considerable centralization of power, Gregory XIII abolished the Cardinals Consistories, replacing them with Colleges, and appointing specific tasks for these colleges to work on. He also established the Discalced Carmelites, an offshoot of the Carmelite Order, as a distinct unit or “province” within the former by the decree “Pia consideratione” dated 22 June 1580, ending a period of great difficulty between them and enabling the former to become a significant religious order in the Catholic Church.
Pope Gregory XIII is best known for commissioning the Gregorian calendar, initially authored by the doctor/astronomer Aloysius Lilius and aided by Jesuit priest/astronomer Christopher Clavius, who made the final modifications. This calendar is more accurate than the Julian calendar, which treats each year as 365 days and 6 hours in length, even though the actual length of a year is slightly less (365 days, 5 hours, and 49 minutes) Gregory subsequently decreed, by the papal bull Inter gravissimas of 24 February 1582, that the day after Thursday, 4 October 1582 would be the fifteenth, not the fifth, of October. The new calendar replaced the Julian calendar, which had been used since 45 BCE. Because of Gregory’s involvement, the new calendar came to be known as the Gregorian calendar and has been almost universally adopted.
- Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, Appendix I: The Third Order of the Teresian Carmel; Its Origin and History, page 129, in Michael D. Griffin, OCD, Commentary on the Rule of Life (superseded) (The Growth in Carmel Series; Hubertus, Wisconsin: Teresian Charism Press, 1981), pages 127-36; and Peter-Thomas Rohrbach, OCDJourney to Carith: The Sources and Story of the Discalced Carmelites, Chapter 6: The Struggle for Existence, page 200 (Washington: ICS Publications)
- “Who Invented the Calendar We Have Today?”. Who Invented It. 1 September 2018.
- “CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Aloisius Lilius”. newadvent.org.
*Information retrieved from Wikipedia.org 23 February 2022.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1208 – Francis of Assisi attended Mass in the little church of Saint Mary of the Angels and heard a scripture that so moved him that he resolved to become an itinerant evangelist in the mold of the original apostles. He founded the Franciscan order and at the time of his death, his order numbered 5,000 men.
1860 – Viscount Dungannon moves a resolution condemning prayer meetings in the theatres of Southern England where revival services are booming.
1873 – A longstanding edict against Christianity is revoked in Japan.
1915 – Amanda Smith, an African-American evangelist known for her powerful singing; died in Sebring, Florida. Her autobiography is frequently referenced in women’s studies.