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Pope Leo XI's Geni Profile

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Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici, Pope Leo XI

Birthplace: Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Ottaviano de' Medici and Francesca Salviati
Half brother of Bernardetto de' Medici and Costanza de' Medici

Occupation: Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
Managed by: Noah Gregory Tutak
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Pope Leo XI

Born at Florence in 1535; died at Rome 27 April, 1605, on the twenty-seventh day after his election to the papacy. His mother, Francesca Salviati, was a daughter of Giacomo Salviati and Lucrezia Medici, the latter being a sister of Leo X. From his boyhood he led a life of piety and always had an earnest desire to enter the ecclesiastical state, but could not obtain his mother's consent. After her death he was ordained priest and somewhat later Grand Duke Cosimo of Tuscany sent him as ambassador to Pius V, a position which he held for fifteen years. Gregory XIII made him Bishop of Pistoia in 1573, Archbishop of Florence in 1574, and cardinal in 1583. Clement VIII sent him, in 1596, as legate to France where he did good service for the Church in repressing the Huguenot influence at the court of Henry IV, and helping to restore the Catholic religion. On his return to Italy he was appointed prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. In 1600 he became Bishop of the suburbicarian Diocese of Albano, whence he was transferred to Palestrina in 1602. Alessandro was an intimate friend of St. Philip Neri with whom he spent much time in spiritual conversation and whose advice he sought in all important matters. When Alessandro was Tuscan ambassador at the court of Pius V Philip predicted his election to the papacy.


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


He was born in Florence: his mother, Francesca Salviati, was a daughter of Jacopo Salviati and Lucrezia de' Medici, a sister of Leo X, while his father, Ottaviano, was a more distant scion of the Medici family. After a late start, he was ordained priest, and Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, sent him as an appropriate ambassador to Pope Pius V, a position which he held for fifteen years. Gregory XIII made him bishop of Pistoia in 1573, archbishop of Florence in 1574, and Cardinal-Priest of Santi Quirico e Giulitta in 1583.

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

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

Papal styles of

Pope Leo XI

Reference style His Holiness

Spoken style Your Holiness

Religious style Holy Father

Posthumous style None

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 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. On 1 April 1605, Alessandro ascended the papal throne with the Medici name Leo XI, being then almost seventy years of age, but was taken ill immediately after his coronation and died within the month.

He was nicknamed Papa Lampo ("Lightning Pope") for the brevity of his pontificate.

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Pope Leo XI's Timeline

June 2, 1535
Florence, Tuscany, Italy
April 27, 1605
Age 69