Alessandro Sforza (cardinal)

Alessandro Sforza (1534–1581) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.


A member of the House of Sforza, Alessandro Sforza was born in Rome in 1534, the son of Bosio II Sforza, count of Santa Fiora e Cotignola, and his wife Costanza Farnese, who was the natural and legitimized daughter of Pope Paul III.[1] His brother Guido Ascanio Sforza di Santa Fiora also became a cardinal.[1] He was the uncle of Cardinal Francesco Sforza.[1]

He gained the academic title of Magister.[1] Early in his ecclesiastical career, he became a papal chaplain.[1] He became a scriptor of apostolic letters.[1] On January 12, 1554, he became a cleric of the Apostolic Camera.[1] He became a canon of St. Peter's Basilica on April 18, 1554.[1] He was involved in a minor scandal after he made French vessels travel from Civitavecchia to Gaeta that caused Pope Paul IV deprive him of his charges and benefits.[1] After the vessels were returned and some cardinals intervened, the pope restored him to his former offices on October 8, 1557.[1]

On April 26, 1560, he was elected Bishop of Parma[1] and was named praefectus annonae on July 1, 1560.[1] In 1562-63, he was a participant in the Council of Trent.[1]

Pope Pius IV made him a cardinal priest in the consistory of March 12, 1565.[1] He received the red hat and the titular church of Santa Maria in Via Lata on May 15, 1565.[1] He participated in the papal conclave of 1565-66 that elected Pope Pius V.[1] Together with Cardinals Giovanni Ricci, Giovanni Francesco Commendone, and Marcantonio Bobba, was named by Pope Pius V inspector of rivers, ports and public roads of Rome.[1] On January 5, 1570, the pope named him papal legate a latere to Bologna and Romagna.[1]

Alessandro Sforza participated in the papal conclave of 1572 that elected Pope Gregory XIII.[1] The new pope named him archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore; during the jubilee year of 1575, he opened the holy door there.[1] Gregory XIII also made him cardinal protector of Spain.[1] Sometime before March 30, 1573, he resigned the government of the Diocese of Parma.[1] He was named Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura on January 12, 1575.[1] On July 11, 1580, he was named papal legate to the Papal States (in addition to remaining legate to Bologna), charged with eliminating banditry.[1]

He died suddenly in Macerata on May 16, 1581.[1] He was buried in the Sforza family chapel in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.[1]