The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Pius VII (1800-1823)
Consistory of October 20, 1800 (I)
Celebrated in Rome


(1) 1. CARACCIOLO, Diego Innico (1777-1823)

Birth. July 18, 1759, Martina Franca, Tarento, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Son of Francesco Caracciolo, duke of Martina, and Stefania Pignatelli, of the dukes of Monteleone. He was destined to an ecclesiastical career at a young age. Other cardinals of the family were Marino Ascanio Caracciolo (1535); Innico Caracciolo, seniore (1666); Innico Caracciolo, iuniore (1715); Niccolò Caracciolo (1715); Giovanni Costanzo Caracciolo (1759); and Filippo Giudice Caracciolo, Orat. (1833).

Education. Studied at Collegio Clementino, Rome, from 1767. Obtained a doctorate in utroque iure at La Sapienza University, Rome. He completed his juridical formation under a consistorial lawyer.

Early life. Domestic prelate of His Holiness in 1780. Referendary of the Signatures of Justice and of Grace in March 1782. Consultor of of the S.C. of Indulgencies and Relics in 1782. Prelate vicar of the archpriest of the basilica of S. Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, in March 1786. Governor of San Secerino, August 1786. Governor of Iesi, August 1790. Protonotary apostolic in 1793. Governor of Fermo, March 1794 until October 1795. Recalled to Rome, he was named Master of Chamber of Pope Pius VI. He accompanied the pope from February 1798 in his exile in Italy and France. He assisted the pope at his death, which he had the official duty of informing to all the cardinals. He went to Venice for the conclave. He was confirmed in his post by the new Pope Pius VII. Created cardinal in recognition of his service to Pope Pius VI.

Priesthood. Ordained at an unknown date.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the secret consistory of consistory of August 11, 1800; received the red hat in the public consistory of August 14, 1800; received the title of S. Agostino in the secret consistory of October 20, 1800. In December 1801, he was named prefect of the S.C. of Indulgencies and Relics. He was expelled from Rome in 1808 by the French and established himself first in Fondi and later in Naples. As a pretext of his poor health, he excused himself from attending the wedding of Emperor Napoléon I in Paris.

Episcopate. Opted for the order of cardinal bishops and the suburbicarian see of Palestrina, retaining in comedam his title of S. Agostino, September 26, 1814. Consecrated, November 6, 1814, by Pope Pius VII, assisted by Francesco Bertazzoli, titular archbishop of Edessa in Osrhoëne, president the of Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and by Giuseppe Bartolomeo Menocchio, O.E.S.A., titular bishop of Porfireone, sacritan of the Apostolic Palace. In June 1815, he was charged with the negotiation of a concoedat between the Holy See and the Kingdom of the Two Scilies. The concordat was signed in February 1818. On December 4, 1818, he was named prefect of the Tribunal of the Signature of Justice. He could not esercise his functions because he stayed in Naples to supervise the setting of the concordat.

Death. January 24, 1820, Naples. Buried in the metropolitan cathedral of Naples after the funeral celebrated on January 27.

Bibliography. LeBlanc, Jean. Dictionnaire biographique des cardinaux du XIXe siècle : contribution à l'histoire du Sacré Collège sous les pontificats de Pie VII, Léon XII, Pie VIII, Grégoire XVI, Pie IX et Léon XIII, 1800-1903. Montréal : Wilson & Lafleur, 2007. (Collection Gratianus. Série instruments de recherche), p. 216-217; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Volumen VII (1800-1846). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, pp. 6, 38, 40 and 50.

Webgraphy. Biography by Giuseppe Pignatelli, in Italian, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 19 (1976); his portrait and biography, Wikipédia, in French.

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(2) 2. CONSALVI, Ercole (1757-1824)

Birth. June 8, 1757, Rome. Son of Mario Giuseppe Consalvi, Marquis of Toscanella, and Countess Claudia Carandini of Modena. Descendent of the ancient noble family of the Brunacci of Pisa, his grandfather was Gregorio Brunacci, who had taken the name and arms of the late Marquess Ercole Consalvi of Rome, as was required in order to inherit the large fortune the original Consalvi had left.

Education. At the death of his father in 1763, Ercole was entrusted to the care of Cardinal Andrea Negroni (1763). He was educated at the Collegio of the Piarists from 1776 to 1771. He then entered the seminary founded in Frascati by the English Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart, duke of York, where he studied rhetoric, philosophy, mathematics and theology, but did not take the sacred orders. He became a favorite of the cardinal and was helped by him to obtain high office in the Roman Curia while still a young man. From October 1776 to October 1782, he frequented the Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles in Rome, where he studied jurisprudence and ecclesiastical history, having as professor in the second one the influential Aboot Francesco Antonio Zaccaria, a former Jesuit. He then began to study both canon and civil law at La Sapienza University, from which he received doctorates in both disciplines in 1789.

Early life. In April 1783, he was named privy chamberlain supernumerary of His Holiness. In July 1784, he was named domestic prelate of His Holiness; and, shortly after, referendary of the Apostolic Signature. In August 1786, he was named relator of the Congregation of Good Government. In April 1789, he was appointed voting judge of the Court of the Signature; and in 1792, auditor of the Sacred Roman Rota; subsequently he was entrusted with the arrangement of the ecclesiastics expelled or escaped from revolutionary France; and in 1796, he became commissioner of the Military Congregation on that occasion established by Pope Pius VI. Arrested on February 13, 1798, by the French of General Louis-Alexandre Berthier, Consalvi was locked up in Castel Sant'Angelo and then expelled from the Papal State. He went first to Naples and later to Livorno; in early September, he was able to meet in Ema, near Florence, Pope Pius VI, who, deported from Rome, had been forced by the French to lodge with a reduced court at the Florence Charterhouse. It was on that occasion that the pontiff, before being transferred in March 1799 to Valence in the Dauphine, ordered Consalvi to reach the cardinals who were in Venice under Austrian protection. Pope Pius VI died in Valence on August 29, 1799. Monsignor Consalvi was named secretary of the conclave, which started in Venice on November 30, 1799. On March 14, 1800, Cardinal Gregorio Barnaba Chiaramonti, O.S.B.Cas., former bishop of Tivoli and Imola. On March 15, 1800, the pope named him pro-secretary of State. On August 11, 1800, he was named secretary of State.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the secret consistory of consistory of August 11, 1800; received the red hat in the public consistory of August 14, 1800; received the diaconate of Sant’Agata de’ Goti in the secret consistory of October 20, 1800. In June 1801. he left Rome for Paris to negotiate an understanding with the French, that resulted in the Church's Concordat of 1801 with First Consul Napolén Bonaparte.

Diaconate. Pope Pius VII ordained him to the subdiaconate and then to the diaconate in his private chapel on December 20 and 21, 1801, respectively. He acted as virtual sovereign in Rome during the absence of Pius VII in Paris for the coronation of Napoleon as emperor on December 2, 1804. Because of his firm stance against the Napoleonic government and his opposition to the participation of the Papal States in France's Continental Blockade, he was required to resign in June 1806 as Cardinal Secretary of State, from which he went on to serve in various functions of the Curia. The French entered Rome in 1808 and formally abolished the temporal power of the pope. Cardinal Consalvi broke off all relations with the French. When France annexed the Papal States in 1809 and took the pope into exile in Savona, Cardinal Consalvi was forcibly taken to Paris. There he was met by Emperor Napoléon himself, who offered him an annual pension of 30,000 francs. This the cardinal refused. When he and twelve other cardinals refused to attend Emperor Napoléon's marriage to Princess Marie Louise of Austria in 1810, they were stripped of their property and ecclesiastical status, becoming known as the "black cardinals" (1). Cardinal Consalvi and the others were also forced to reside in various cities in France, in his case, Reims. This lasted until Pope Pius VII signed the Concordat of Fontainebleau in January 1813. The cardinal was then allowed to leave his place of forced residence and joined the pope. Cardinal Consalvi then promptly persuaded Pope Pius VII to retract the concessions he had made to Empero Napoleon, which he began to do in March of that same year. Because of his role in changing Pope Pius VII's position, the French first prohibited Cardinal Consalvi from seeing the pope, then the following January 1814 again sent him into exile, this time in Béziers. This exile, however, lasted only a matter of weeks, as he was freed by the French Provisional Government on April 2, 1814, shortly before Emperor Napoléon's final abdication. He was then able to rejoin the pope in Italy, at which time he was reappointed as Secretary of State. After the fall of Emeror Napoléon, Cardinal Consalvi went, as the pope’s representative, to England to meet and confer with the allied sovereigns, and later in the year he was sent as papal plenipotentiary to the Congress of Vienna. The cardinal was able to convince the victorious powers to restore the Papal States almost entirely, the Marches (Ancona, Treviso and Fermo) and Legations (Bologna, Ferrara and Ravenna), but he failed to prevent Austria from annexing the ancient papal possessions on the left bank of the Po and obtaining the right to garrison Ferrara and Comacchio. The Papacy had been forced to accept the French annexation of Avignon. The cardinal presented at the close of the Congress a formal protestatio, in which he not only denounced the failure of the Powers to do justice to the Church, but also their refusal to re-establish that “centre of political unity,” the Holy Roman Empire. Cardinal Consalvi reformed the administration of Rome and to some extent was able modernized the city. On June 5, 1817, he concluded a concordat with the Bavaria. On June 11, 1817, Cardinal Consalvi concluded another Concordat with France but it was never ratified by King Louis XVIII. Opted for the deaconry of Santa Maria ad Martyres, the Pantheon, on July 28, 1817. On February 16, 1818, he concluded a concordat with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, February 21, 1820 until January 8, 1821. Pro-prefect of the S.C. of Propaganda Fide from March 23, 1822. When Pope Pius VII died on August 20, 1823, Cardinal Consalvi retired as secretary of State. He was named by Pope Leo XII prefect of the S.C. of Propaganda Fide on January 13, 1824.

Death. January 24, 1824, in his villa in Porto d'Anzio, after great sufferings. His funeral was celebrated in the church of S. Marcello al Corso, Rome, where he was buried. His heart was deposited in the Pantheon. He left most his wealth to the S.C. of Propaganda Fide and he directed that part of it be applied to the completion of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen’s monument of Pope Pius VII.

Bibliography. LeBlanc, Jean. Dictionnaire biographique des cardinaux du XIXe siècle : contribution à l'histoire du Sacré Collège sous les pontificats de Pie VII, Léon XII, Pie VIII, Grégoire XVI, Pie IX et Léon XIII, 1800-1903. Montréal : Wilson & Lafleur, 2007. (Collection Gratianus. Série instruments de recherche), p. 254-260; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Volumen VII (1800-1846). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, pp. 6, 45, 46 and 50; Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano, Mario. Memorie del Cardinale Ercole Consalvi. Roma : Angelo Signorelli, 1950; Regoli, Roberto. Ercole Consalvi. Le scelte per la Chiesa. Roma : Pontificia Univ. Gregoriana, 2018. (Miscellanea historiae pontificiae).

Webgraphy. Biography by Alessandro Roveri, in Italian, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 28 (1983); his portrait and biography, Wikipedia, in English; biography, in English, Encyclopaedia Brittanica; biography by Francis Schaefer, in English, The Catholic Encyclopeadia; biography, 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica; engravings, portraits and arms, Araldica Vaticana; portrait and biography by George Weigel, in English, The Catholic Weekly, October 29, 2015.

(1). The "black cardinals", besides Cardinal Consalvi, were Cesare Brancadoro, Michele Di Pietro, Gabrielli Giulio, Pierfrancesco Galeffi, Lorenzo Litta, Alessandro Mattei, Carlo Oppizzoni, Francesco Maria Pignatelli, <>iuniore, Luigi Ruffo Scilla, Ferdinando Maria Saluzzo, Giovanni Filippe Gallarati Scotti, and Giulio Maria Della Somaglia.

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