He was almost the only one who succeeded in making a firm stand in the tumultuous conclave of 1378; but the deliberation with which he made up his mind as to the validity of the election of Urban VI.
He participated in the conclave which followed the death of Innocent VIII.
He attended the conclave of 1878, but was too late to vote for the new pope.
From Messina he proceeded by sea in order to be present at the expected conclave at Venice, where he arrived in the spring of 1799, aged, ill and almost penniless.
This discreetness contributed not a little to his election to the papacy on the 24th of April 1585; but the story of his having feigned decrepitude in the Conclave, in order to win votes, is a pure invention.