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Pope Leo XI

Leo XI
Papacy began 1 April 1605
Papacy ended 27 April 1605
Predecessor Clement VIII
Successor Paul V
Ordination 22 July 1567
by Antonio Altoviti
Consecration March 1573
by Francisco Pacheco de Villena (Toledo)
Created Cardinal 12 December 1583
by Sixtus V
Personal details
Birth name Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici
Born (1535-06-02)2 June 1535
Florence, Duchy of Florence
Died 27 April 1605(1605-04-27) (aged 69)
Rome, Papal States
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Other popes named Leo

Pope Leo XI (2 June 1535 – 27 April 1605), born Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici, was Pope from 1 to 27 April 1605.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Priest 2
  • Pope 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Other websites 6

Early life

Alessandro Ottoviano de' Medici was born in Florence,[2] son of Francesca Salviati and Ottaviano. He was a nephew of Leo X.[3]


Tomb of Leo XI in St. Peter's Basilica, by Alessandro Algardi.

Father Alessandro served as the Florentine ambassador to Pope Pius V from 1569 to 1584.[4] Gregory XIII made him bishop of Pistoia in 1573, archbishop of Florence in 1574,[5] and was made Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quirico e Giulitta in 1583.[2]

In 1596, Clement VIII sent him as legate to France where Maria de' Medici was queen.[6] Alessandro was a friend and disciple of St. Philip Neri.


On 14 March 1605, eleven days after the death of Clement VIII, 62 cardinals entered the conclave. Prominent among the candidates for the papacy were the great historian Baronius and the famous Jesuit controversialist Robert Bellarmine. But Pietro Aldobrandini, the leader of the Italian party among the cardinals, allied with the French cardinals and brought about the election of Alessandro against the express wish of King Philip III of Spain. King Henry IV of France is said to have spent 300,000 écus in the promotion of Alessandro's candidacy.[7]

On 1 April 1605, Cardinal Medici was elected pope. He chose to be called Leo XI in honor of his uncle Pope Leo X.[2]

When he was elected, Leo XI was almost seventy years of age, and he died twenty seven days later.[8] His death came as a result of fatigue and cold in the ceremony of taking possession of the Basilica of St John Lateran. He was called Papa Lampo ("Lightning Pope") because his papacy was so short.

See also


The Coat of Arms of the Medici popes
  1. ^ "List of Popes," Catholic Encyclopedia (2009); retrieved 2013-3-15.
  2. ^ a b c "Pope Leo XI", Catholic Encyclopedia; retrieved 2013-3-15.
  3. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2000), 298.
  4. ^ Sally J. Cornelison, Art and the Relic Cult of St. Antoninus in Renaissance Florence, (Ashgate Publishing, 2012), 126.
  5. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, 298.
  6. ^ Leo XI, Bernard Barbiche, The Papacy: An Encyclopedia, Vol. II, ed. Philippe Levillain, (Routledge, 2002), 929.
  7. ^ Eamon Duffy, Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, (Yale University Press, 2006), 236.
  8. ^ George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy:The Families and Descendants of the Popes, (McFarland & Company, 1998), 75.

Other websites

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • "Leo XI" in Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911
  • Catholic Hierarchy, Pope Leo XI
  • Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Medici
  • Leo XI at St Peter's Basilica
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Clement VIII
1–27 April 1605
Succeeded by
Paul V
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