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Francesco Chieregati

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Papal nuncio, b. at Vicenza, 1479; d. at Bologna, 6 December, 1539. Little is known of his early career. He was sent by Leo X as papal nuncio to England (1515-17), and also filled a similar office in Portugal and in Spain (1519), in which latter country he became acquainted with Cardinal Adrian Florent, Bishop of Tortosa, the Dutch preceptor of Charles VI, and later Pope Adrian VI. One of the latter's first acts, after his entry into Rome, was to make Chieregati, whose learning and virtue the pope esteemed, Bishop of Teramo in the Kingdom of Naples ; he then sent him to the Diet of Nuremberg, called for the autumn of 1522. He was commissioned to obtain from the German princes a more energetic pursuit of the war against the Turks in Hungary, which nation was then and long after the bulwark of Christian Europe, also a more vigorous suppression of Lutheranism and the execution of the Edict of Worms against Luther. In two discourses (19 November and 10 December) he urged the princes to co-operate for the expulsion of the Turks from Christian Hungary ; on the latter date he also demanded the immediate execution of the Edict of Worms (26 May, 1521), whereby Luther had been put under the ban of the empire, which formal outlawry he had hitherto escaped through the protection of Frederick of Saxony and other friendly princes. Finally, on 3 January, 1523, Chieregati read publicly two important documents, sent after him from Rome. They were a papal Brief (issued on the previous 25 November) to the members of the Diet and an Instruction for Chieregati himself. The former contained an eloquent appeal to the Catholic piety, immemorial religious traditions, and magnanimity of the representatives of the German people, and besought the Diet to quench at once the brand of religious sedition and compel the submission of Luther and his adherents. The personal Instruction, issued probably on the same date, and read to the Diet by Chieregati, is one of the most important documents for the early history of the Protestant Reformation . In it Pope Adrian frankly confesses that the sins of ecclesiastics were the chief cause of the grievous tribulations of the Church, and that in the Roman Curia itself, both head and members, popes and prelates, had been guilty of scandalous abuses. For the text of the Instruction see Raynaldus, "Ann. Trid." (Louvain, 1781), II, 144 sqq.; Pallavicino "Storia del Concilio di Trento" (Rome, 1656), I (2), 4-6; especially Wrede, "Deutsche Reichstagskten" (Munich, 1893), III, 391; see below, Pastor, and Hergenröther-Kirsch. The reply of the Diet was discouraging; the princes and representatives avoided a satisfactory answer to the pope's urgent requests, proposed the celebration of a general council in some German city, and renewed in an offensive manner the earlier antipapal complaints of the Germans, the famous "Centum (101) gravamina teutonicae nationis"; Pastor adds (op. cit. 97) that the failure of Chieregati was in large measure owing to the timidity and selfishness of the great German prelates who were by no means ready to repeat the humble confession of the noble-hearted pope. The latter has often been blamed for his frankness (see remarks of Pallavicino in Hergenröther-Kirsch), but Pastor (p. 94) defends him both from exaggeration of facts and untimeliness of speech. His unique and heroic admissions were necessary, says this writer, in the interest of a genuine reformation, nor was this remarkable Instruction made public without papal approval. The subsequent history of Chieregati offers like interest.

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