Rome: June 1575

Pages 205-210

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Vatican Archives, Volume 2, 1572-1578. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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June 1575

Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. xvi.
f. 307.
404. Baron de Morley, Grand Marshal of Ireland to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
“I have written a letter to his Holiness, who, I doubt, may not remember me, though at the beginning of his pontificate, my cousin, the Earl of Westmorland, and I wrote jointly to him. I have therefore resolved to send you two letters which I myself should have presented. But by reason of the fatigue occasioned by so long a journey as it is from Spain to this city, and also of the present heat, I have seen fit, as I must needs write to his Holiness, to make also by this letter and the enclosures my reverence to your Most Illustrious Lordship, and to beseech you, should his Holiness ask you about me, and should he not do so, then of your own accord, to commend me to his Holiness in consonance with the pitiable account which, I believe, the most illustrious Cardinal and the Nuncio will have given of my condition. This is all that I have to say; and so I end, commending as most I may my condition to the christian compassion of your Most Illustrious Lordship, whose most reverend hands I with all reverence kiss.”
4 June, 1575. Venice. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. Germ.
vol. lxxxi.
f. 203.
405. Protonotary Portia, Nuncio in Germany to the Same.
“It is now some months since the Bishop of Augsburg made his will, in which he made his two brothers, the one a Catholic, the other a heretic, his heirs. Discussing it afterwards with spiritual persons, he was taken to task for having nominated the heretic, with whom for the present he should have had nought to do save to endeavour to reclaim him to the bosom of the Church; and so he bade him to him, but could never persuade him to abandon the false religion and send his son to Dilinga [Dillingen] there to be educated as a Catholic: but for all that he left the will as it stood. Afterwards, sometime in December he made a codicil, in which he directed that as to making his brother his heir nothing should be done save what the Pope should direct; and this, through me, Father Gasparo, an Englishman, who has concerned himself much with the conscience of the Bishop, purposes to notify to his Holiness, subjoining that the heretic is 40 years of age, and an obstinate Calvinist, so that he cannot enjoy the benefice by imperial licence, which, it is notorious, extends only to Lutherans.”
4 June, 1575. [Augsburg.] Decipher. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. xvi.
ff. 308–9.
406. John Baptista Castagna, [late] Archbishop of Rossano, Nuncio at Venice to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
“I know not if the Pope has ever known or heard aught of the Prior of England, who was the head of the Order of Jerusalem in all that island while it was Catholic; and, therefore, as he is now on his way to Rome, it seems meet that I should give you to know his qualities and the reason of his coming to kiss the Pope's feet at this time.
“This gentleman, Sir Richard by name, is of the house of Scellei [Shelley], which, besides being very noble, has, by what we understand, been ever not only Catholic but prompt so to profess itself in all times and on all occasions; and in particular this gentleman, who, that he may live as a Catholic, which he could not do in that realm, especially since he belongs to that Order, has forsaken fatherland, home and the priory worth more than 10,000 crowns of revenue, and much favour and rank which might have been his, had he been willing to follow in the footsteps of the rest that have remained there.
“He is moreover lettered, most zealous for the faith and religion, and most noble in life and manners; in fine, he is a gentleman meet to be made much of and greeted and treated with all honour, and it will be well worth while.
“And since this gentleman has ever been hopeful of the return of that realm at some time or another, and by way rather of persuasion than of force, to the faith and obedience of Holy Church, he, being, for the reasons which he will give, unable to stay in Malta, has resolved to live at Venice, assuring his safety in a particular State; and thus, although the Queen knows that he will not live in England because he is altogether minded to live under the obedience of the Roman Church, and to that extent not to recognize her, nevertheless she believes that in no other respect is he her enemy, and that he has never made any attempt or machination against her; and while she counts not on him as for her and her side, as she would wish, yet he is not so odious to her as the other exiles that are her professed enemies. This he has, as I have said, done to assure his safety as far as possible, in order that he may one day prove to be an instrument not altogether abhorred, should it please God to open the way for the reduction of that realm by negotiation.
“It now seems to him that he has been in a certain sort invited, and that a good opportunity presents itself of trying to infuse some life into this business, because, when he least expected it, he has received a letter of no little importance from one who is the principal and most potent minister of that Queen, a person of great authority and better able than any other to guide her judgment this way or that. He is a kinsman of the said Prior, and known by him to be too judicious to write aught at random. Moreover he wisely considers that any attempt by other princes or foreign forces would at this time be utterly fruitless. He knows that there are in that realm not a few, Catholic at heart, who await the reduction with the utmost longing: he knows that that Queen feels no great interest in any faith or any sect, but that she has no other thought than to keep herself on the throne in whatever way she can, and by means of that religion which may best serve her purpose. Already that lady is sensible of the weight of years; pleasures pall upon her, her desires grow moderate. Perchance also she is coming to disrelish having so many malcontents within and without her realm solely for religion's sake; perchance also the persecutors of the Church are now satiated. And, what is more important, perchance the time is at hand when God is minded to extend His infinite mercy to that realm, and grant so many prayers of his saints now dead and of others of that island that live in captivity and cruel usage.
“And thus by these and many other considerations, to which is now added the letter aforesaid, he is so encouraged in his hope that by way of negotiation and conciliation it may now be possible to attempt something great, that, well though he knows how dangerous it is to visit Rome at this season, he has yet resolved, lest the opportunity should be missed, not to fail to go thither to impart the whole matter to his Holiness, knowing that he has nothing more at heart than to gain so many souls for God, and to reclaim provinces and realms to the true faith and obedience of his Holiness and Holy Church, which he most worthily rules.
“He comes, I say, to impart this to the Pope and to get leave in some measure to enter upon this negotiation, purposing to return speedily and abide in this city as being a neutral place more convenient and less suspect. He is, as I have said, a most worthy gentleman and versed in the affairs of that realm. He has kinsfolk and friends of consequence there. As to his other qualities the Cardinal of Ermland is very well informed. How essential is secrecy in this business, so ticklish and important as it is, I need not tell your experienced and most prudent lordship. I will therefore only say that it is more necessary to keep it secret from all those English that are at Rome, even though they may have the same intention, than from any other person of any nation whatsoever, as you will learn from the Prior himself, who will depart hence in two or three days; and though he will not hurry, he will post to come with a smaller suite.”
11 June, 1575. Venice. Italian.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. i. f. 58.
407. William Allen, Priest, Rector of Douai Seminary to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
Extolling the wisdom and piety evinced by the Pope and the Cardinal in providing the Douai Seminary with an endowment.
13 June, 1575. [Douai.] Latin.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. i. f. 60.
408. William Allen, Priest, Rector of Douai Seminary and his Colleagues to [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como.
Thanking him for his zeal and piety evinced in soliciting that most magnificent pecuniary endowment which his Holiness has lately conferred upon the Seminary, thereby laying not only the beneficiaries but all the English race under an obligation, which can never be requited. Craving also the Cardinal's interest with the Pope to assure the perpetuity of the endowment.
13 June, 1575. The English College, Douai. Latin.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
v. l. i. f. 35.
409. Graces and Indulgences attached by Pope Gregory XIII to the crucifixes blest by him at the instance of Sir Thomas Estocley [Stucley].
“1. For each time that any one of the crucifixes is gazed on or regarded with reverence or devotion, 50 days' indulgence.
“2. For each time that prayer is made before any one of them for the prosperity of Holy Mother Church, and the exaltation of the Holy Catholic Faith, and the preservation and liberation of Mary, Queen of Scotland, and the reduction of the realms of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the extirpation of the heretics, other 50 days', and on feasts, 100 days' indulgence.
“3. For taking part in any warfare against the foes of our holy faith, seven years and seven quarantines of indulgence, and in case of death therein, for such as have at least confessed and communicated at the beginning of the said conflict, and are in a state of contrition for their sins, and invoke the most holy name of Jesus with their mouths or with their hearts, a plenary indulgence and remission of all their sins.
“4. For each time that confession or communion shall be made with mental or vocal prayer to the Most Holy Crucifix for the prosperity of Holy Church, and the supreme Pontiff, and for the liberation and preservation of Mary, Queen of Scotland aforesaid, and for the reduction of the said realms, all the indulgences that are gained by visiting all the holy places within and without the gates of Rome.
“5. For making at night or evening examination of the conscience with penitence for sins and determination of amendment, repeating the general confession and bowing to the Holy Crucifix, and thrice saying Jesus upon each such occasion, one year and one quarantine of indulgence.
“6. For habitually regarding the Cross with devotion, five times saying the Paternoster and the Ave Maria, or some other prayer to the Saviour or the Madonna, for the exaltation of Holy Mother Church and the preservation and liberation of the said Queen Mary, and the reduction of her realms, once in a lifetime a plenary indulgence and remission of all sins de culpa et poena, besides the fifty days' indulgence that is gained every time prayer is made.
“7. For every one in danger of death, who, being confessed, and contrite, or giving sign of contrition, shall kiss the most holy feet of the Crucifix, saying Jesu with his heart, not being able to say so with his mouth, plenary indulgence with remission of his sins de culpa et pœna.
“8. On a day of the year to be appointed by the custodians of one of these crucifixes, it may, by leave of the ordinary of the place, be set up in any church or chapel or oratory; and then for five times saying the Paternoster and the Ave Maria, and praying for the prosperity of Holy Mother Church and for the Supreme Pontiff, and for the preservation and liberation of the said Mary, Queen of Scotland, and the reduction of the said realms, after confessing and communicating, or in anticipation thereof in due time and of amendment of life, plenary indulgence and remission of all sins de culpa et pœna.
“9. For every Mass said on Friday at an altar, on which is set one of these crucifixes, release of a soul from Purgatory.
“10. For revocation of these indulgences and graces by any Pontiff express mention of them is necessary.”
13 June, 1575. [Rome.] Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di.
vol. xiii. f. 432.
410. [Ptolemy Galli,] Cardinal of Como to [John Baptista Castagna, late Archbishop of Rossano], Nuncio at Venice.
… “As the ordinary despatch received from you this time contains nothing that requires an answer, I will only say that as to the other letter, to wit, touching the Prior of England, the Pope had already received the same information from Mgr. of Ermland; and that if the Prior comes hither, his Holiness will gladly see him, and will give due attention to his business. And may it be the will of God that his design may have the solid basis that is desired in the interest of all!”
17 June, 1575. Rome. Italian. Copy.
Vat. Arch.
Nunt. di
vol. i. f. 59.
411. News Letter.
“The Earl of Kildare, a powerful Catholic Irish nobleman, has been brought a prisoner to England with his two sons and a cousin the Baron of Meluin [sic Delvin].
“The Earl of Vormonde [Ormonde], an Irishman, for many a year the favourite of the Pretended [Queen], is deemed to be already a Catholic and reconciled to the Church and a friend of the Earl of Desmond, a Catholic and most potent lord.
“In London two physicians, Drs. Good and Atislo [Astlowe], (fn. 1) Catholics and worthy men, are imprisoned in the Tower of London for having by secret letters advised the Queen of Scotland of a composition antidotal and regulative of the health. Three or four of the Earl of Shrewsbury's servants with his secretary are fugitives by reason of some services and favours done to her Majesty in receiving and despatching letters to and from her; which shows pretty plainly how beloved her Majesty is amidst her enemies, and how many friends she would find, if occasion presented itself.
“Henry Cobham (fn. 2), a great heretic, is appointed ambassador resident with his Catholic Majesty, whence may result many untoward consequences besides the grave umbrage that it will give to the English Catholics that his Majesty should receive such a minister on the part of the excommunicated Pretended [Queen].
“It is to be desired that his Holiness, for the dignity of Holy Church, should dissuade the Catholic King from granting such a favour to the Pretended [Queen].”
21 June, [1575]. Cambrai. Italian.


  • 1. Cf. Cal. Hatfield MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm.), Pt. ii. pp. 110–11; Cal. State Papers (Ireland), 1574–85, pp. 63–80.
  • 2. Cf. p. 231, infra.