Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta

Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta
Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain
Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta.jpg
Church Catholic Church
Appointed 1568
Term ended October 17, 1575
Predecessor Bartolomé Sebastián Valero de Arroítia
Successor Antonio Agustín y Albanell
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of S. Vitale (1570)
Cardinal-Priest of S. Martino in Montibus (1570–1572)
Cardinal-Priest of S. Balbina (1572–1575)
Consecration 1561
Created cardinal March 10, 1570
Personal details
Birth name Gaspar de Gaeta Alonso
Born ca. 1511
Trujillo, Spain
Died October 17, 1575 (aged 64)
Tarragona, Spain
Buried Tarragona Cathedral
Nationality Spanish
Denomination Catholicism
Residence Archbishop's Palace of Tarragona
Parents Francisco de Gaeta
María Alonso de Cervantes
Previous post Bishop of Messina, Italy (1561–1564)
Bishop of Salerno, Italy (1564–1568)
Alma mater University of Salamanca
University of Paris
Coat of arms Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta's coat of arms
Styles of
Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta (Trujillo, 1511[n. 1]Tarragona, October 17, 1575) was a Spanish cardinal of the 16th century. He was a relative of the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.

Early years

He was born in Trujillo to Francisco de Gaeta and María Alonso de Cervantes. He studied at the Santa Cruz de Cañizares College of the University of Salamanca and at the University of Paris, and later he was appointed councillor and delegate of the Grand Inquisitor of the Kingdom of Aragon.[1]

Early ecclesiastical career

Cervantes was vicar general of the diocese of León,[2] inquisitor and vicar general of the archdiocese of Seville, and inquisitor in Zaragoza and Naples.[1] In 1561 he was elected archbishop of Messina, and later, in 1566, archbishop of Salerno, where he organized several ecclesial synods.[2] Cervantes participated in the Council of Trent, where he stood out for his eloquence and wisdom,[1] thus winning Pope Pius IV's confidence. This Pope entrusted him ecclesiastical matters of high importance. In 1568 was appointed archbishop of Tarragona, but he did not arrive to Tarragona until 1572.[3]

Archbishop of Tarragona and cardinal

Being archbishop of Tarragona, he was appointed cardinal-priest of Saint Vitale by Pope Pius V in the consistory of May 17, 1570. On March 9 of that year, he changed to the titular church of Saint Martino in Montibus, and in 1572 to Santa Balbina.[1] For this reason, he spent four years in Italy since his appointment at the archdiocese of Tarragona. During his stay in Rome, he was Papal legate for the kingdoms of Spain.[1] Pope Puis V named him a member of the jury that had to try the archbishop of Toledo, Bartolomé Carranza.[2]

Cervantes went back to Tarragona in May 1572. That year he founded the University of Tarragona, to which he donated a total amount of twenty thousand Catalan pounds.[2]

On April 16 of 1573, he authorized the village of Almoster to own its own baptismal fonts in its church, which spared its inhabitants the inconvenience of going to Reus for this matter.[4]

In 1574, Cervantes got the suppression of the monastery of Escornalbou from Pius V. The money that he got out of it went to the creation of the Seminary of Tarragona, founded in 1575. This seminary is considered the first one in Spain, which later in 1577, it was combined with the University of Tarragona. In 1575 he also founded a novitiate of the Society of Jesus.[2] He also created a penitentiary canonry, founded a residence for Jesuit monks, a hospice for beggars, and invested on the orphanage. He considered that the inner side of the harbour of Tarragona could be assaulted easily, therefore he decided to extend the defenses adding a bastion to the Roman walls that took his name.[5]

He celebrated an ecumenical council from 1572 to 1574.[2] His auxiliary bishop was Joan Terès i Borrull.

In 1574, Tarragona underwent an episode of drought, and Cervantes tried to redirect a water channel from Puigdelfí. However, Cervantes died before he could finish this project, on October 17, 1575.[3]

In 1577, his remains were moved to a tomb between the chapel of Saint Michael and the chapel of the Eleven Thousand Virgins in the Tarragona Cathedral.[3]


In Trujillo he ordered to build the altar in Saint Martin’s Church, where the remains of his mother were placed. The altar is known as the “Altar of Gaeta”.[1] He gave at least sixteen 16th-century tapestries embroidered in Brussels to the Tarragona Cathedral[6] In his will, Cervantes gave thorough details about the administrative regulation and running of the University of Tarragona, which prevented that, years later, the university was abolished by King Philip V of Spain.[2]

Cervantes published a work titled Instruccions, y advertiments molt útils necessaris per les persones ecclesiàstiques y principalment per als qui tenen cura d’ànimes, així de com s’han de haver en les persones, com ensenyar e instruir a sos parroquians en públic y en lo secret de la Penitencia (Barcelona, 1575). This work was originally published in Italian, and when he moved to Tarragona, he ordered to translate it into Catalan. Previously he published in Rome, in 1568, the Constituzioni Sinodali della Chiesa di Salerno.[1]

Lope de Vega dedicated an epitaph to Cervantes in Epitaphios fúnebres a diversos sepulcros.[7]

Cardinal Cervantes street in Tarragona is named after him.