Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(Hercules.)

Cardinal ; b. at Mantua, 23 November, 1505; d. 2 March, 1563. He was the Son of the Marquess Francesco, and nephew of Cardinal Sigismondo Gonzaga (1469-1525). He studied philosophy at Bologna under Pomponazzi, and later took up theology. In 1520, or as some say, 1525, his uncle Sigismondo renounced in his favour the See of Mantua ; in 1527 his mother Isabella brought him back from Rome the insignia of the cardinalate. Notwithstanding his youth, he showed great zeal for church reform, especially in his own diocese ; and in this he received help and encouragement from his friend Cardinal Giberti, Bishop of Verona. His mode of life was stainless and a manuscript work of his, "Vitae Christianae institutio", bears witness to his piety. He published a Latin catechism for the use of the priests of his diocese and built the diocesan seminary, thus carrying out reforms urged by the Council of Trent, as his friends Contarini, Gilberti, Caraffa, and other bishops had done or were doing, even before the council had assembled. His charity was unbounded, and many young men of talent and genius had their university expenses paid by him. The popes employed him on many embassies, e.g. to Charles V in 1530. Because of his prudence and his business-like methods, he was a favourite with the popes, with Charles V, and Ferdinand I, and with the Kings of France, Francis I and Henry II. From 1540 to 1556 he was guardian to the young sons of his brother Federico II who had died, and in their name he governed the Dutchy of Mantua. The elder of the boys, Francesco died in 1550 and was succeeded by his brother Guglielmo. In the conclave of 1559 it was thought he would certainly be made pope ; but the cardinals would not choose as pope a scion of a ruling house. In 1561 Pius VI named him legate to the Council of Trent, for which he had from the beginning laboured by every means at his command, moral and material. In its early stages, owing to the fact that not a few considered he was in favour of Communion under both kinds , he met with many difficulties, and interested motives were attributed to him. Nothing but the express wish of the pope could have persuaded him to remain at his post, and the energy he displayed was unwearied. He contracted fever at Trent, where he died, attended by Father Lainez. His benefactions to the Jesuit college at Mantua and to the Monte di Pieta were very great, and his letters are invaluable to the historian of that period.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 37:1-14
1 The hand of Yahweh was on me; he carried me away by ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
2 So let them say whom Yahweh redeemed, whom he ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Andrew the Scot
August 22: Archdeacon and companion of St. Donatus. Andrew and his sister, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter