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Born Alessandro Ludovisi. Pope from 1621-23. Held numerous Curial positions from 1596-96. Named Vice-Regent of Rome in 1597, a post he held for one year. Served as auditor of the Sacred Roman Rota (1599-1612). Created archbishop of Bologna (1612). In 1616 he was named Apostolic Nuncio to the Duchy of Savoy to mediate between Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy and Philip III of Spain. Elevated to cardinalate in September 1616.


MS - Manuscript in the form of a papal breve on parchment, dated 1623, the last year of his pontificate. Lacking bulla (leaden seal) and hemp cords but, overall, very good. Measure 12”x9”. Signed by various Curial officials. Beautiful chancery calligraphic hand. Untranslated Latin but summary follows: Marriage dispensation addressed to the Archbishop (future cardinal) of Naples, Decio Carafa, granting permission for third degree blood cousins Fabrizio Tambara and Anziana Profunda of Ponticelli to marry, as they have found no other suitable candidates for marriages in their town.


At the time he was crowned pope, Gregory was 67 and in a weak state of health. Risking the charge of nepotism, he made his nephew Ludovico Ludovisi (age 25) a cardinal on the third day of his pontificate. The same day, his youngest brother Orazio was appointed Captain General of the Church to head the papal army. Both young men essentially ran the church for their elderly uncle. 


Gregory was a learned theologian who manifested a reforming spirit.  A November 1621 papal bull regulated papal elections. In January 1622 he established the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the missionary arm of the church. during his pontificate he canonized several holy people: Teresa of Avila, Francis Xavier, Ignatius Loyola, Philip Neri and Isidore the Farmer. He also beatified Peter of Alcantara. He elevated 11 cardinals in four consistories including Armand Jean Richelieu

(GREGORY XV) (1554-1623)