The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Benedict XIII (1724-1730)
Consistory of June 11, 1725 (IV)
Celebrated in Rome


(6) 1. COSCIA, Niccolò (1682-1755)

Birth. January 25, 1682, Pietradefusi (or Petrafusa), archdiocese of Benevento. Of a poor and obscure family. Eldest of the six children of Vincenzo Coscia and Girolama Gemma. He was baptized on January 27, 1682, with the names Niccolò Paolo Andrea. The other children were Baldassare, Filippo, Marina, Maria Giuseppa and Maria Angela.

Education. Studied at La Sapienza University, Rome, where he obtained a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law, March 30, 1715.

Early life. While still a youngster, he met Cardinal Vincenzo Maria Orsini, archbishop of Benevento, future Pope Benedict XIII, during one of his pastoral visits, the cardinal encouraged him to enter the ecclesiastical state and conferred the first tonsure in May 1696. He studied under the auspices of the cardinal and learned the affairs of the archiepiscopal curia. In October 1703, the cardinal granted him a canonship in the collegiate church of S. Bartolomeo in Benevento, which in April 1708, he exchanged for another one in the chapter of the metropolitan cathedral at the same time in which he was named chancellor of the curia.

Priesthood. Ordained, March 28, 1705. Secretary of Cardinal Orsini, archbishop of Benevento. In the archdiocese of Benevento, he was master of chamber; treasurer; apostolic visitor; archpriest and abbot mitered of S. Lorenzo d'Aprice. He accompanied Cardinal Orsini as conclavist to the conclaves of 1721 and 1724. When Cardinal Orsini was elected to the papacy, Msgr. Coscia followed him to Rome. He was named secretary of Memorials on June 7, 1724.

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Traianopoli, June 26, 1724. Consecrated, July 23, 1724, Pauline chapel, Vatican, Rome, by Pope Benedict XIII, assisted by Pierre-Guérin de Tencin, archbishop of Embrun, and by Cesare Lucini, bishop of Gravina. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, January 29, 1725.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of June 11, 1725; received the red hat and the title of S. Maria in Domnica, deaconry elevated pro illa vice to title, July 23, 1725. Twenty, of the twenty six cardinals present in the consistory, opposed his promotion. The pope remained unmoved and promoted Archbishop Coscia to the cardinalate. On September 5, 1725, he was named archbishop coadjutor of Benevento, with right of succession, in charge of the government of the archdiocese, retained by Pope Benedict XIII until his death. Protector of the Sovereign Order of Malta, September 1725. Protector of the Order of the Friars Minor Conventual, December 17, 1725; took possession in February 1726. Protector of the city of Avignon and prefect of the Congregation of Avignon, March 28, 1726. Grand cross and commendatario of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Granted permission to use the pallium of metropolitan archbishop during his coadjutorship, February 21, 1726. Succeeded to the metropolitan see, February 21, 1730. The cardinal's conduct had created a great deal of animosity among the other members of the Sacred College of Cardinals (1). When Pope Benedict XIII died, Cardinal Coscia hid in Rome and then fled to Cisterna, in the feud of Prince Michelangelo Gaetani, duke of Caserta, who gave him refuge and protection in spite of the cardinal's behavior. The cardinal warned the Sacred College that the election of the new pontiff would be void without his vote and was given assurances to allow his participation in the conclave. He took forty days to arrive in Rome together with the duke of Caserta, who accompanied him the city until the cardinal had securely entered the conclave. Participated in the conclave of 1730, which elected Pope Clement XII. Resigned government of the archdiocese, not without protestations, January 8, 1731; he sought refuge in Naples the following March and that motivated the confiscation of all his possessions. In March 1732, he returned to Rome to face his charges and resided in S. Prassede during his process. On May 9, 1733, charged with extortion, forgery and breach of trust, he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and excommunication; he also had to pay a hefty indemnity. He was interned in Castello Sant'Angelo but treated with consideration. On February 23, 1734, the same pope lifted the pain of major excommunication and restored his active voice in a conclave in July 1738. From 1735, he was allowed to go the different thermal baths to treat the gout that affected him. At the death of Pope Clement XII, he was freed and allowed to participate in the conclave of 1740, which elected Pope Benedict XIV. He retired to private life in Naples in 1741. The new pope ordered the review of his process and on January 8, 1742, he forgave the remaining time of his ten year sentence, reinstated his cardinalate and absolved him of all charges. He prepared his testament on May 1, 1753.

Death. Saturday February 8, 1755, Naples. Exposed and buried in the church of Gesù Nuovo, Jesuit professed house, Naples.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. 9 vols. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1794, VIII, 207-209; Notizie per l'anno1753. In Roma MDCCLIII : Nella Stamperia del Chracas, p. 89; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen V (1667-1730). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1952, pp. 36, 54 and 385; Weber, Christoph and Becker, Michael. Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. 6 v. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 1999-2002. (Päpste und Papsttum, Bd. 29, 1-6), III, 307.

Links. His portrait and biography, in Italian, Pietradefusi, Provincia di Avellino; his engraving by an anonymous artist, Antiquariat Hille, Berlin; his engraving and prosopography, in German; his effigy on a coin, Numismatic collection of Olomouc archiepiscopate, Czech Republic; his effigy on a coin, Numismatic collection of Olomouc archiepiscopate, Czech Republic.

(1) According to Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa, VIII, 208-209, the new Pope Clement XII, because of Cardinal Coscia's "stealing, fraud, extortion, and falsehood", was forced to impose on him those numerous and severe sanctions.

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(7) 2. GIUDICE, Niccolò del (1660-1743)

Birth. June 16, 1660, Naples. Second of the ten children of Domenico del Giudice, prince of Cellamare, viceroy of Aragón, grande of Spain, and Costanza Pappacoda, of the princes of Triggiano. Nephew of Cardinal Francesco del Giudice (1690). Cousin of Cardinal Niccolò Caracciolo (1715).

Education. Studied at Seminario Romano, Rome; and at La Sapienza University, Rome, where he earned a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law.

Early life. In his adolescence, he was called to Rome by his uncle the cardinal. Entered the Roman prelature as protonotary apostolic in March 1693. President of the Apostolic Chamber, March 2, 1696. Cleric of the Apostolic Chamber, November 22, 1697. President delle Strade, and delle Grascia in the pontificate of Pope Clement XI. Prefect della Annona, June 1706 until May 1715. Prefect of the Apostolic Palace, May 7, 1715, succeeding Fabio Olivieri, who had been promoted to the cardinalate; occupied the post until his promotion to the cardinalate; after that, he became pro-prefect until the appointment of his successor, Camillo Cibo, on July 6, 1725.

Sacred orders. (No information found).

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of June 11, 1725, with dispensation for having an uncle and a cousin in the Sacred College of Cardinals; received the red hat and the newly established deaconry of S. Maria ad Martyres, popularly known as Rotonda, July 23, 1725. Protector of Sicily, January 1726, succeeding his uncle Cardinal Francesco del Giudice. Protector of the Order of the Carmelites, January 1727. Participated in the conclave of 1730, which elected Pope Clement XII. He was charged with the affairs of the empire in 1735 and substituted for Cardinal Wolfgang Hanibal von Schrattenbach, during his absence, as protector of Germany; he became permanent protector of Germany at the death of Cardinal Schrattenbach in 1738; occupied the post until June 1742. Participated in the conclave of 1740, which elected Pope Benedict XIV. Named by Emperor Charles VI protector of Austria and Hungary before the Holy See, June 1742. He was a protector and promoter of the uomini dotti, e litterati.

Death. January 30, 1743, at 7 p.m., Rome. Exposed in the church of S. Ignazio, Rome, where the capella papalis took place on February 1, 1743; and buried, temporarily, in the church of S. Maria in Traspontina, Rome. Later, his remains were transferred to Naples and buried in the church del Carmine, according to his will.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. 9 vols. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1794, VIII, 209-210; Notizie per l'anno1753. In Roma MDCCLIII : Nella Stamperia del Chracas, p. 123; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen V (1667-1730). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1952, pp. 36 and 54; Weber, Christoph and Becker, Michael. Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. 6 v. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 1999-2002. (Päpste und Papsttum, Bd. 29, 1-6), I, 323.

Links. His engraving by Johannes Christoph Kolb, Antiquariat Hille, Berlin; his engraving, CalcoGRAFICA, Istituto Nazionale della Grafica; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; and his engraving by Johann Martin Bernigeroth, Antiquariat Hille, Berlin.

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