Chapter One: Cervini in History

From a list fo the most prominent figures in the Catholic reform movement at the time of the Council of Trent (1545–1563), it is difficult to identify one individual more significant than Marcello Cervini [En 1]. He was born in Montefano, near Ancona, on May 6 1501, and pursued an ecclesiastical career that spanned more than twenty-one years. Ordained a priest in 1535, he served first as a tutor and then as a secretary to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the grandson of Pope Paul III (1534–1549), whom he accompanied on legations to the courts of the emperor and the king of France. While on legation, the became cardinal in 1539, and Paul later bestowed upon hi the titular church fo Santa Croce. He served as administrator in a number of dioceses, first in that of Nicastro (1539–1540), then in Reggio Emilia (1540–1544, and finally in Gubbio (1544–1555). He helped to oversee the Roman Office of the Inquisition as one of thouse appointed to the body in the early years of its reinstitution after 1542, and he coordinated activities on behalf of the papacy as the second legate to the Council of Trent during the sessons from 1545 to 1549. The first cardinal to supervise the Vatican library, he was appointed its custodian in 1548, and he himself endowed it with important contributions. He became a confidant of Pope Paul III and a principal supporter of the nascent Society of Jesus: the founder of the society, Ignatius of Loyola, considered him a friend and held him in high esteem. Cervini actively followed and encouraged the progress of Jesuit missionary and educational endeavors.

In 1550 he became cardinal protector of the Servites and later held the same position for both the Augustinian order and the new Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome. He correspondended and worked with many of the other important regilious figures of the time: Girolamo 

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