Paul III, 1468?1549, pope (1534?49), a Roman named Alessandro Farnese; successor of Clement VII. He was created cardinal by Alexander VI, and his influence increased steadily. A very astute church diplomat, he directed his efforts chiefly in aid of the reforming party. With his election a new era in the papacy opened, for papal involvement in the Counter Reformation began. Paul favored a new council to reconcile the Protestants and reform the church. After elaborate preparations, countless intrigues, and several false starts the Council of Trent (see Trent, Council of) convened (1545). At his accession Paul appointed a special commission, made up of the most ardent reformers; this commission was valuable to the council for the information it had on actual conditions in Rome. Paul also patronized the newly founded Jesuits (see Jesus, Society of), the great agents of the Counter Reformation. The pope's interest in art was very great: he founded the Farnese Palace, had Michelangelo continue the decoration of the Sistine Chapel, and rebuilt and repaved many streets in Rome. He was succeeded by Julius III.
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