Jacopo Sadoleto, an Italian ecclesiastic, born in Modena, July 14, 1477, died in Rome, Oct. 18, 1547. In 1502 he went to Rome, became attached to the household of Cardinal Oliverio Carafa, and was ordained a priest. In 1511 he entered the service of Cardinal Fregosio, was elected member of the Roman academy, and published several Latin poems. Leo X. on his accession in 1513 chose him as one of his secretaries, and he distinguished himself by avoiding all offers of wealth, associating with Gaetano of Tiene and Giovanni Pietro Carafa (afterward Pope Paul IV.) in public benevolence. In 1517 he was appointed bishop of Carpentras in France. In the controversies between Luther and the Roman theologians, Sadoleto was urged to act as mediator, but conciliated neither party. The correspondence that he then began with Erasmus is thought to have prevented the latter from openly joining the reformers. During the reign of Adrian VI. he was neglected and lived in obscurity. Clement VII. in 1523 appointed him his secretary.
When Clement had declared for France against the emperor Charles V., Sadoleto withdrew to his diocese, ten days before the sack of Rome by the Spanish troops (1527). In 1536 he published in Venice a commentary on St. Paul, offering a middle ground between the extreme opinions on grace and free will. This was followed by Hortensius, sive de Lau-dibus Philosophioe (Lyons, 1538; last ed., Paris, 1853, with a French translation). He was now made a cardinal, and bent all his energies toward effecting reforms and winning back those who had embraced the Lutheran doctrines. In his own diocese he successfully resisted the spread of Calvinism, while he besought the clemency of Francis I. in favor of the Waldenses of Mérindol and Cabrières, and protected them against the ruthless oppression of the Toulouse magistrates. In the same conciliatory spirit he wrote a famous letter to the magistrates and citizens of Geneva; and his treatise De Extructione Ecclesioe Catholicoe is almost the only instance of a passionless discussion in the religious literature of that age. He was sent by Paul III. in 1542 as legate to Francis I., to effect a reconciliation between him and the emperor.
Failing in this, and grieved to see the pope sacrificing the highest interests of the church to the promotion of his own family, he retired to Carpentras and resigned his bishopric. The pope compelled him to go to Rome in 1546, and he was chosen to preside in the council of Trent as papal legate, but resisted the appointment on the score of his extreme poverty. His collected works, except the letters, were published at Verona (4 vols. 4to, 1737-'8); his letters, Epistolarum Libri XVII., appeared at Lyons in 1550 (best ed., including the letters and Latin poems of Paolo Sadoleto, his nephew and successor as bishop of Carpentras, 5 vols. 8vo, Rome, 1759 -'67). His life, by Fiordibello, was published with a new edition of his treatise on education, De Liberia recte Instituendis (Paris, 1855). See also Joly, Étude sur Sadolet (Caen, 1857).