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He was born at Modena in 1477, the son of a noted jurist, he acquired reputation as a neo-Latin poet, his best-known piece being one on the group of Laocoön. In Rome, he obtained the patronage of Cardinal Carafa and adopted the ecclesiastical career. Pope Leo X chose him as his secretary along with Pietro Bembo, and in 1517 made him bishop of Carpentras.
A faithful servant of the papacy in many negotiations under successive popes, especially as a peacemaker, his major aim was to win back the Protestants by peaceful persuasion and by putting Catholic doctrine in a conciliatory form. Sadoleto was a diligent bishop, made cardinal in 1536, given the titular church of San Callisto.
In 1539 Cardinal Sadoleto wrote to the people of Geneva, urging them to return to the Catholic faith. John Calvin had been asked to leave Geneva the previous year, and was living in Strasbourg, but the Genevans still asked Calvin to write a response to Sadoleto, which he did.
Sadolato died in Rome in 1547, aged 70.
Sadoleto's collected works appeared at Mainz in 1607, and include, besides his theologico-ironical pieces, a collection of Epistles, a treatise on education (first published in 1533), and the Phaedrus, a defence of philosophy, written in 1538. The best collection is that published at Verona (1737–1738); it includes the life by Fiordibello.
- Sadoleto, Jacopo (1760). Epistolae quotquot extant proprio nomine scripta (in Latin). Pars prima. Roma: Generoso Salomoni.
- Sadoleto, Jacopo (1760). Epistolae quotquot extant proprio nomine scripta (in Latin). Pars secunda. Rome: Generoso Salamoni.
- Sadoleto, Jacopo (1764). Epistolae quotquot extant proprio nomine scripta (in Latin). Pars tertia. Rome: Generoso Salomoni.
- Sadoleto, Jacopo (1759). Jacobi Sadoleti ... Epistolae Leonis VII, Clementis VII, Pauli III nomine scriptae (in Latin). Roma: excudebat Generosus Salomonis.
- Pietro Balan, ed. (1884). Monumenta reformationis lutheranae ex tabulariis secretioribus S. sedis, 1521-1525 (in Latin). Ratisbon: sumptibus F. Pustet.
- Jacopo Sadoleto; Paolo Sadoleto (1871). Amadio Ronchini (ed.). Lettere del card. Iacopo Sadoleto e di Paolo suo nipote tratte dagli originali che si conservano a Parma nell'Archivio governativo (in Latin and Italian). Modena: Carlo Vincenzi.
- Sadoleto, Jacopo (1950). Antonio Altamura, tr. (ed.). Elogio della sapienza: De laudibus philosophiae (in Italian and Latin). Napoli: R. Pironti & figli.
- His chief work, a Commentary on Romans, meant as an antidote against the new Protestant doctrines, gave great offence at Rome and Paris: Sadoleto, Jacopo (1535). Iacobi Sadoleti... In Pauli Epistolam ad Romanos commentariorum libri tres (in Latin). Lyon: apud Sebastianum Gryphium.
- Paolo Giovio (1551). Vita Leonis Decimi, pontifici maximi: libri IV (in Latin). Florentiae: officina Laurentii Torrentini. p. 67.
- Cardinal Title S. Callisto GCatholic.org
- Both letters can be found in Calvin's Tracts Relating to the Reformation, translated by H. Beveridge, 1844. Digitized by Google Books.
- Perrin, Charles (1847). De Jacobo Sadoleto, cardinali, episcopo Carpentoractensi, disquisitio historica, auctore Perrin (in Latin). Paris: Joubert.
- Pericaud, Antoine. Fragments biographiques sur Jacob Sadolet (Lyon, 1849)
- Joly, Aristide (1857). Étude sur J. Sadolet, 1477-1547. Caen: A. Hardel.
- Jean Calvin; Jacopo Sadoleto (1966). John C. Olin (ed.). A Reformation Debate: Sadoleto's Letter to the Genevans and Calvin's Reply. New York: Fordham Univ Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-1991-9.
- Douglas, Richard M. (2012). Jacopo Sadoleto, 1477-1547: Humanist and Reformer. Literary Licensing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-258-31736-2.[self-published source?]
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sadoleto, Jacopo". Encyclopædia Britannica. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 994.
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. .