Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli

Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli

Birth
Terracina, Provincia di Latina, Lazio, Italy
Death 6 Nov 1876 (aged 70)
Rome, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy
Burial Rome, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy
Plot Family Chapel, Pincetto Nuovo.
Memorial ID 26722768 · View Source
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Roman Catholic Cardinal. An Italian lay Cardinal who served among others as Papal Secretary of State from 1848 until his death, Giacomo Antonelli played a key role in Italian politics, resisting the Unification of Italy and effecting Roman Catholic interests in European affairs, leading thus many to call him the "Italian Richelieu". A native of Sonnino, near Terracina, he came from a then recently enriched family of merchants. Receiving his education at the Collegio Romano, the Seminario Romano and La Sapienza University, from where he obtained a doctorate in utroque iuris in both civil and canon laws on February 22, 1830, after taking minor orders he gave up the idea of becoming a priest and chose instead an administrative career. Appointed secular prelate after entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See, he was sent as apostolic delegate to Viterbo in 1836, where he soon manifested his reactionary tendencies in an attempt to stamp out Liberalism. Recalled to Rome in 1841 by the conservative Pope Gregory XVI, he entered the office of the Secretariat of State, having already served as substitute of the Congregation of Prelates of the Apostolic Chamber, relator of the Sacred Congregation of Good Government, dean of the Relators, and second assessor of the Supreme Tribunal of the Signature of Justice. Named Papal delegate to the cities of Orvieto in 1835, Viterbo on July 4, 1836, and Macerata in 1839. Antonelli received the diaconate in 1840 and was named canon of the chapter of the Patriarchal Vatican Basilica the following year. Named substitute of the Secretariat of State for Internal Affairs on August 13, 1841, he served as under treasurer, pro–treasurer and later general treasurer. In the consistory of June 11, 1847, he was created cardinal deacon with the deaconry of Sant'Agata alla Suburraone by Pope Pius IX, becoming thus one of the Church's last lay cardinals. Personally chosen by the Pope to preside over the Council of State entrusted with the drafting of a constitution for the Papal States on March 10, 1848, Antonelli became premier of the First Constitutional Ministry of Pius IX. Upon the collapse of his cabinet when liberals resigned following the publicly renounced Papal participation in the War of National Liberation on April 29, 1848, Antonelli created for himself the governorship of the Sacred Palaces in order to retain constant access to and influence over the Pope. After the assassination of Pellegrino Rossi, minister of the interior on November 18, 1848, he arranged the flight of Pius IX to Gaeta. The Pope considered fleeing to the island of Malta, where he was to be given refuge at Lija, however Antonelli suggested Gaeta, being not that far away from Rome and thus closer for eventual return trip, with the Pope escaping disguised as a simple country priest. In that year, the Papal States were overthrown by liberals and replaced by a Roman Republic, only to be restored to the Pope in 1849 by force of French and Austrian arms, called in at Antonelli's request. Notwithstanding promises to the powers, he restored absolute government upon returning to Rome on April 12, 1850 and violated the conditions of the surrender by wholesale imprisonment of liberals. Narrowly escaping assassination in 1855, as ally of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, from whom he had received an annual subsidy, he attempted, after 1860, to facilitate Ferdinand's restoration by fomenting brigandage on the Neapolitan frontier. To the overtures of Ricasoli in 1861, Pius IX, at Antonelli's suggestion, replied with the famous "Non Possumus," but subsequently in 1867, he accepted, too late, Ricasoli's proposal concerning ecclesiastical property. After the September Convention of 1864, Antonelli organized the Legion of Antibes to replace French troops in Rome, and in 1867, secured French aid against Garibaldi's invasion of Papal Territory. Upon the reoccupation of Rome by the French after the battle of Mentana on November 3, 1867, he again ruled supreme, but upon the entry of the Italians in 1870, was obliged to restrict his activity to the management of foreign relations. He wrote, with Papal approval, the letter requesting the Italians to occupy the Leonine City, in which the Italian government had intended to allow the Pope to keep his temporal power and obtained from the Italians payment of the Peter's Pence, with 5,000,000 lire, remaining in the Papal exchequer, as well as 50,000 scudi, the first and only installment of the Italian allowance which was subsequently fixed by the Law of Guarantees on March 21, 1871, the one ever accepted by the Holy See. Antonelli endeavored for the reorganization and preservation of the Papal States but was unable to prevent their loss. Prior to these years of conflict, he was charged with the conclusion of the convention with Sardinia concerning the ecclesiastical residence on October 14, 1848. Named prefect of the Apostolic Palace on November 1, 1848 and successively pro-prefect of the Public Ecclesiastical Affairs, he was decorated with the grand cross of the Austrian Order of Sankt Stefan in 1850. Opting for the deaconry of Santa Maria in Via Lata while retaining 'in commendam' the deaconry of Sant'Agata alla Suburra on March 13, 1868, he was eventually named cardinal protodeacon. After the loss of Rome in 1870, he remained at the side of Pope Pius IX as a "prisoner" in the Vatican. During his tenure as Papal Secretary of State, he had to deal with Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Camillo Cavour in Italy, with Napoleon III in France, and with Otto von Bismarck in Germany. He was also briefly embroiled in the diplomacy of the American Civil War. Charged with explained to rulers and their ministers the meaning and extent of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility defined by Pope Pius IX in 1870, during the First Vatican Council, he and Cardinal Roberto Giovanni F. Roberti were the first Cardinals who ever traveled by train. At Antonelli's death, which occurred on November 6, 1876, at the age of 70, the Vatican's finances were found to be in disorder with a deficit of 45,000,000 lire. His personal fortune, accumulated during his term in office was considerable, and was bequeathed almost entirely to members of his family. To the Church he left little and to the Pope only a trifling souvenir. From 1850 until his death, he interfered little in affairs of dogma and Church discipline, although he addressed to the powers circulars enclosing the Syllabus of Errors and the Acts of the First Vatican Council. His activity was devoted almost exclusively to the struggle between the Papacy and the Italian Risorgimento. Following his death, a scandalous process emerged between his heirs and Countess Lambertini, who claimed to be his natural daughter. Antonelli was one of the last laymen to be created cardinal before Pope Benedict XV decreed in 1918, that all cardinals must be ordained priests. His twenty nine year cardinalate remained the longest held by any porporate who never participated in a Papal conclave, being ultimately overtaken by Roger Etchegaray on November 26, 2008.

Bio by: Eman Bonnici


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  • Created by: Eman Bonnici
  • Added: 9 May 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 26722768
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli (2 Apr 1806–6 Nov 1876), Find a Grave Memorial no. 26722768, citing Cimitero Comunale Monumentale Campo Verano, Rome, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy ; Maintained by Eman Bonnici (contributor 46572312) .