Pictro Bembo, an Italian cardinal and author, born in Venice, May 20, 1470, died in Rome, Jan. 18, 1547. He was of a noble family, and at an early age studied at Florence, whither his father was sent as ambassador, and afterward at Messina, whence he returned in 1494 to his native city. Soon after he wrote a treatise upon Mount Etna, which was his first publication. He then frequented the courts of Ferrara and Urbino, pursuing philosophical and literary studies, and admired for his wit and graceful manners. Learning and letters were then in the highest esteem in the noble families of Italy, and Bembo had many powerful patrons, received favors from Pope Julius II., and accompanied his friend Giovanni de' Medici on his way to Rome to be crowned pope as Leo X. He was made secretary to the new pope, enjoyed the acquaintance of many distinguished men, and busied himself with composition. The beautiful Morosina, whom he loved, and who bore him three children, persuaded him upon the death of Leo X. in 1521 to retire from public affairs, and to spend the rest of his life in literary elegance at Padua. Here he formed an extensive library and collection of medals, and enjoyed the society of his learned friends.
He sometimes visited Rome, and having become a cardinal after the accession of Paul III., he determined to embrace another maimer of life. He renounced profane letters, studied the fathers and theologians, was advanced to several bishoprics, and died in sentiments worthy of a prince of the church. His writings, consisting of letters, poems, dialogues, criticisms, fragments, and a history of Venice, are distinguished for elegance and gracefulness of style.