Sixtus V.

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Sixtus V.

Sixtus V (born December 13, 1521 in Grottammare , Marken , † August 27, 1590 in Rome ), real name Felice Peretti di Montalto , was Pope of the Catholic Church from 1585 to 1590 . In the spiritual realm he was considered to be morally strict and heightened the penalties for corresponding offenses. In the administrative area, Sixtus V introduced profound reforms, among other things he created the Cardinal Congregations that still exist today.


Felice Peretti was the son of Francesco and Marianna Peretti, simple farmers. Felice had an older brother, Prospero, and a younger sister, Camilla. After he went to the Augustinian monastery of Grottammare at the age of seven, the family returned to Montalto in 1530, where Felice was entrusted to his uncle, the Franciscan Salvatore Ricci.

Clerical career

Sixtus V, bronze bust by Taddeo Landini

In 1534 Felice entered the Franciscan convent near Montalto as a novice . His maternal uncle Salvatore was also a monk in this monastery . In 1540 he began to study philosophy in Ferrara and in 1543 a second study of theology in Bologna . In 1544 he changed his place of study and went to Rimini , in 1546 to Siena . Here he was ordained a priest in 1547. On July 26, 1548 he finished his studies with a master's degree in theology in Fermo .

In 1551 Felice Peretti became the regens of the seminary in Siena after teaching at the seminary of the Franciscans in Macerata since 1548 . Since he was an excellent preacher, he was appointed to Rome as a fasting preacher in 1552 on the recommendation of Cardinal Rodolfo Pio di Carpi, protector of the Franciscan order. In 1553 he took part in the General Chapter of his order in Genoa and was appointed to rain the seminary in Naples that same year . In 1557 he was sent to Venice as Apostolic Inquisitor and on July 16, 1560 he was appointed Consultor of the Roman Inquisition . He took part in the Council of Trent as a member of this congregation . In 1558 he initiated and supported the founding of the Belt Brotherhood of St. Francis , to whom he later bestowed special privileges as Pope .

In 1565, Peretti stayed in Spain as an inquisitor to investigate Archbishop Bartolomé de Carranza of Toledo . From 1566 to 1568 he was vicar general of his order. On November 15, 1566 he was appointed bishop of the diocese of Sant'Agata de 'Goti . On May 17, 1570 he was appointed cardinal by Pope Pius V. In 1571 he became Bishop of Fermo . His traces can still be found in this city today, above all a bronze statue created by the Tuscan sculptor Accursio Baldi in 1590 above the portal of the Palazzo Comunale, the old town hall. According to the inscription, it was donated by the city of Fermo to commemorate the elevation of the previous diocese to metropolitan archbishopric, which took place on May 24, 1589, as well as the granting of privileges for the university. Some sacred objects in the cathedral treasury came here as gifts from the Pope. Sixtus raised his family's hometown, Montalto, to a diocese on November 24, 1586, which since September 30, 1986 has been called San Benedetto del Tronto - Ripatransone - Montalto.


Pope coat of arms Sixtus V
(modern tracing)

Pope election

After the death of Pope Gregory XIII. on April 10, 1585, 42 cardinals met for the conclave on Easter Sunday, April 21 . On April 24th, however, Cardinal Peretti was elected the new Pope by acclamation . He got himself the rarely chosen pope name Sixtus, which goes back to two presumably Greek popes (certainly for Sixtus II. ) Of the early church called Xystus and from Sixtus III. had been revived. The name was chosen in memory of Pope Sixtus IV , who was also a Franciscan: Felice Peretti went down in history as Sixtus V. His coat of arms, which was already used in the time of the cardinals, shows a soaring lion behind a bias tape on which a star and a six-pointed mountain are placed, the latter symbol reminding of the town of Montalto. One of his first official acts as the new Pope was the appointment of his great-nephew Alessandro Damasceni-Peretti di Montalto as cardinal. Sixtus followed the example of his predecessors to a modest extent, who elevated relatives to cardinals in the spirit of family nepotism : Alessandro took over the function of cardinal depository . In order to pave the secular path of his family, Sixtus V made it possible for his sister Camilla to acquire the Marchesato of Venafro in the south-western corner of today's Molise region in 1588 . The son of her daughter Maria Felice was the aforementioned cardinal depository.

Spiritual politics

Sixtus V was considered very strict and punished with his bull Effraenatam perditissimorum such offenses as adultery , homosexuality , abortion , incest , pimping and slander with draconian punishments. So he banished for example, the masturbation .

In his Breve " Com frequenter " from June 27, 1587 took Sixtus V on the question of marriage ability of castrati . The jurists and theologians of earlier times had generally not made the ability to marry dependent on the ability to procreate ( potentia generandi ), which was regarded as the main purpose of marriage alongside the moderation of desire ( sedatio concupiscentiae ), but rather of the ability to perform sexual intercourse ( potentia coeundi ), and then saw this in the man linked to the ability to erect and penetrate or sometimes also to the ability to ejaculate , provided that the ejaculation is still necessary for actual performance even if the person is not suitable for reproduction fleshly union by mixing the seeds ( commixtio seminum ) or for the sedatio concupiscentiae was considered necessary. The reason for a statement arose for Sixtus through a corresponding request from the Nuncio of Spain, who asked for clarification specifically for those castrati who lacked both testicles and were nevertheless capable of sexual intercourse and ejaculation, but, as the Nuncio said, none "True seed" but only a seed-like liquid "unsuitable for procreation and the fulfillment of the purpose of marriage". In his answer, Sixtus also denied such castrati the ability to marry and ordered the annulment of existing marriages. The wording of his decision, which is primarily held as an invective against an assumed carnality and baseness of the motives for such marriages and only hintingly also refers to legal arguments, has confronted contemporaries and historical interpretation with many interpretation problems, with uncertainty today in the question, among other things is whether he saw the obstacle to marriage, deviating from the prevailing view up to that point, in the unsuitability of the semen for reproduction, or in the lack of suitability for a moderation of the desire for which the Pope saw the will as the motive of the person concerned Association agreed.

With his bull Postquam verus of September 3, 1586, Sixtus set the number of members in the college of cardinals at a maximum of 70. In addition, he reorganized the Roman Curia with the Apostolic Constitution Immensa Aeterni Dei of January 22, 1588 , by setting up 15 cardinal congregations for the administration of the Papal States and the interests of the Church as a whole. With this, the individual cardinals lost some ancestral rights that made their status as church princes. It was not until 1958 that Pope John XXIII increased the number of cardinals to over 70.

Sixtus prescribed regular visits to Rome for accountability for all bishops. This regulation is known today as visits ad limina (Apostolorum) and applies for a period of five years.

In 1588 the Pope made St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio Doctor of the Church .

Secular politics

Portrait of Sixtus V in Braga , 1587

While the financial situation of the Papal States under his predecessor Gregory XIII. Had deteriorated rapidly, Sixtus V. redeveloped it through radical savings measures and tax increases. With this he accumulated an enormous fortune in the Castel Sant'Angelo in his relatively short pontificate , which amounted to over 4 million Scudi in gold and silver. Towards the end of his pontificate, Sixtus was therefore one of the richest rulers in Europe.

In his foreign policy, Sixtus was very careful to protect the claimed rights of the popes as arbitrators over the monarchs of Europe. Therefore, he spoke about the succession battle for the French royal throne before the murder of Henry III. King Henry of Navarre, who appeared as a favorite in August 1589, exiled the ban because he was a Calvinist: this happened in 1585 after he had advanced to the status of heir apparent. In contrast, Sixtus supported the Catholic side in France, represented by the two brothers Duke Heinrich and Cardinal Louis of Lorraine-Guise , who were both murdered in December 1588. Thereupon Sixtus imposed on Heinrich III. the excommunication , which contributed decisively to his murder. The Pope was equally hostile to Queen Elizabeth I of England .

In his policy in the Papal States, Sixtus V immediately turned to bandit nuisance after his election, which was particularly torn under his predecessor. With an iron hand he reached through here and had the bandits seized the day before executed on the day of his enthronement for the “celebration of the day” and their corpses displayed on the Angel's Bridge . Such a process was repeated a few more times, but Sixtus was not able to completely destroy the bandits either, but they remained largely calm under his pontificate. This procedure earned Sixtus the nickname "Iron Pope".

Building policy

Triumphal arch-shaped passage of the Acquedotto Felice at the main train station in Rome
Installation of the obelisk on St. Peter's Square in 1586 with 900 workers and 75 horses
New Lateran Palace and Lateran Basilica

The most important achievement of Sixtus V today is without a doubt his building activity in Rome. However, he did not stop at works of art from Roman antiquity that were destroyed or replaced by Christian works: the most famous example are the statues of the emperors Trajan and Marcus Aurelius on their two victory columns, the Trajan column and the St. Mark's column . The ancient statues were replaced by new ones, which depict the princes of the apostles Peter and Paul and which still serve as crowns today.

A building that Sixtus had already laid out as a cardinal was the Villa Peretti Montalto on the extensive area on which the Stazione Termini , the Roman main train station, stands today. The Palazzo Sistino , also called Palazzo di Termini , was built by the Pope's preferred architect, Domenico Fontana , in 1588/9. Sixtus had already acquired the building site between 1576 and 1580 and had it turned into a park, which was expanded from 1585–1588. Later in the possession of the Negroni and Massimo families, the building was demolished to make way for the Collegio Massimo, built between 1883 and 1887, which now houses part of the Museo Nazionale Romano . The park area was abandoned after the unification of Italy in 1870 for the establishment of ministries and residential quarters.

Domenico Fontana was also responsible for another urban development measure by the Pope, the installation of the 25-meter-high Vatican obelisk in front of St. Peter's Basilica . It took place after extensive and meticulous preparatory work between April and September 1586 and was described by the architect in his own book. The Pope's coat of arms with star and mountains can be found at the top of the obelisk. Fontana was also involved in the construction of St. Peter's Basilica, where he erected the dome lantern in 1585.

Sixtus V had the sprawling Old Lateran Palace , which had been the seat of the bishops of Rome since Emperor Constantine the Great , torn down, which humanists strongly criticized, and replaced it with a new palace at Fontana. The only remains of the old palace were the Scala Santa , the alleged staircase of the house of Pontius Pilate imported from Jerusalem by Constantine's mother St. Helena, as well as the papal house chapel Sancta Sanctorum , where numerous relics were kept, were integrated into the new building.

On the initiative of the Pope, Fontana erected several other obelisks in important places in Rome, where they served as focal points at the end of the straight streets that Sixtus had built as part of a comprehensive urban renewal of the Roman city center. In front of the Papal Palace, also built by Fontana, at the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano , in front of the apse side of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and on the Piazza del Popolo in the north of Rome, these trail markers stand and still show the papal construction work.

Another arranged by Sixtus construction is the show facade at the endpoint of the Acqua Felice, called the Well of Moses , where the renewed ancient Aqua Alexandrina led: The triumphal arch shape of the fountain facade has ancient origins out the statuesque depiction of Moses with additional relief should the scene remember in which Moses struck water from a rock on the Israelites' journey to Canaan . The Moses figure, however, aroused criticism from the people because it was viewed as disproportionate.

The aqueduct, then called Acquedotto Felice, now meets the northeast side of the main train station. Here an arch with three passages is designed as a monumental passage into the center, which is provided with an inscription and the papal coat of arms.


Tomb of Sixtus V in the Cappella Sistina in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome

When Sixtus V died on August 27, 1590, a short, event-rich pontificate ended , the likes of which has seldom been seen in the history of the popes. He was buried in the Cappella Sistina, designed by Fontana in 1584–1587 in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore: the tomb, which was erected during the Pope's lifetime, shows the kneeling and praying statue of the deceased in the middle, integrated into a magnificent overall design from which the five Reliefs with deeds of the Pope, such as the execution of bandits, stand out. The tomb was the model for those of his successors, Clement VIII and Paul V, who were buried in the Cappella Paolina opposite .

The Peretti Montalto family spent some time in the Roman aristocracy, but were not very popular there. The Pope's nephew, Francesco Mignucci Peretti, who was married to Vittoria Accoramboni , was murdered on behalf of her lover, Duke Paolo Giordano Orsini von Bracciano , before his uncle was elected Pope in 1581. His revenge pursued both, who were murdered on Venetian territory at the end of 1585. Besides the Cardinal Nepot Alessandro, who later rose to Cardinal Bishop of Albano and was known as the builder of one of the two villa buildings in the park of Villa Lante in Bagnaia near Viterbo (he died in 1623), Michele Peretti, the younger brother and second great-nephew of Sixtus, should be mentioned V. Full name Michele Damasceni Peretti Ricci, he became Prince of Venafro, Marchese of San Martino and Incisa Monferrato, Count of Celano and Caluso . In 1594 he also bought the Duchy of Mentana north of Rome from the Orsini family , but it passed to the Barberini , the family of Pope Urban VIII , around three decades later ; the title is held today by the Borghese family . Churches built by members of the Peretti family can be found in Grottammare (Santa Lucia) and Montalto (cathedral). With Francesco Ricci, Prince of Venafro, the family died out in 1653.


Web links

Commons : Sixtus V.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Isidoro Gatti: Sisto V papa piceno. Le testimonianze ei documenti autentici. Ripatransone, Maroni 1990; Isidoro Gatti: Raffaele Tassotti, Ancora su Sisto V papa piceno. Commento ad un recente opuscolo. 1999.
  2. Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 2010. Città del Vaticano 2010, p. 244 (Fermo) and p. 639 (San Benedetto del Tronto - Ripatransone - Montalto)
  3. ^ Aidan McGrath: A controversy concerning male impotence. Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Rome 1988, p. 13ff., Text des Breves p. 18 (Pars expositiva), p. 20 f. (Pars dispositiva), p. 23 f. (Pars derogativa)
  4. ^ Aidan McGrath: A controversy concerning male impotence. Rome 1988, p. 41 ff.
  5. ^ Aidan McGrath: A controversy concerning male impotence. Rome 1988, p. 49 ff .; Linda Ghisoni: La rilevanza del metus nella consumazione del matrimonio. Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Rome 2000, p. 59 ff.
  6. ^ A b Aidan McGrath: A controversy concerning male impotence. Rome 1988, p. 18.
  7. ^ Aidan McGrath: A controversy concerning male impotence. Rome 1988, p. 22, p. 47 f.
predecessor Office successor
Gregory XIII. Pope
Urban VII.