The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Clement XII (1730-1740)
Consistory of December 19, 1738 (XII)
Celebrated in Rome


(30) 1. VALENTI GONZAGA, Silvio (1690-1756)

Birth. March 1, 1690, Mantua. Second of the four children of Marquis Carlo Valenti and Barbara Andreasi. Uncle of Cardinal Luigi Valenti Gonzaga (1776). Grand-uncle of Cardinal Cesare Guerrieri Gonzaga (1819).

Education. Studied at Collegio de' Nobili, Parma; and at the University of Ferrara, where he earned a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law, on September 27, 1710. Besides his native Italian, he spoke Greek, Latin and French. Received the diaconate, May 20, 1731.

Early life. Privy chamerlain of Pope Clement XI. Sub-datary of His Holiness. Ablegato to bring the red biretta to Cardinal Mihály Frigyes Althan in Vienna, 1719; stayed for two years in a special mission to obtain the restitution of the city of Comacchio to the papal states. Referendary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature and of Grace, June 17, 1724. Archimandrite commendatario of S. Salvatore di Messina from 1724.

Priesthood. Ordained, June 3, 1731.

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Nicea, June 18, 1731. Consecrated, July 22, 1731, Rome, by Cardinal Álvaro Cienfuegos, S.J. Nuncio in Flanders, February 29, 1732. Nuncio in Spain, January 28, 1736.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of December 19, 1738. Legate in Bologna, September 30, 1739. Participated in the conclave of 1740, which elected Pope Benedict XIV. Secretary of State and prefect of the S.C. of the Sacred Consulta, August 20, 1740 until his death. Received the red hat and the title of S. Prisca, September 16, 1740. Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, February 25, 1747 until his death. Prefect of the S.C. of Propaganda Fide, March 27, 1747 until his death. Opted for the title of S. Callisto, May 15, 1747. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, January 20, 1749. Founder of the Pinacoteca Capitolina in 1749. From 1751, his precarious health limited the performance of his numerous responsibilities. Opted for the order of bishops and the suburbicarian see of Sabina, April 9, 1753.

Death. August 28, 1756, Viterbo. Exposed and buried, temporarily, in the cathedral of Viterbo. On January 31, 1757, transferred to Rome and buried in the church of S. Bonaventura, of the Reformed Franciscans, in the tomb he had built for himself (1).

Bibliography. Del Re, Niccolò. La Curia romana : lineamenti storico giuridici. 4th ed. aggiornata ed accresciuta. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998, p. 89; Morselli, Raffaella ; Vodret Adamo, Rossella ; Panini, Gian Paolo, 1691-1765. Ritratto di una collezione : Pannini e la Galleria del cardinale Silvio Valenti Gonzaga. Corp author : Galleria civica di Palazzo Te. Milano : Skira, 2005. Note : Catalog of an exhibition held at the Palazzo Te, Mantua, Mar. 6-May 15, 2005; Todeschi, Claudio. Elogio del cardinale Silvio Valenti Gonzaga. Dedicato alla Santitá di Nostro Signore Papa Pio VI, felicemente regnante. Rome : da Stampede dei Salomoni, 1776; Weber, Christoph and Becker, Michael. Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. 6 v. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 1999-2002. (Päpste und Papsttum, Bd. 29, 1-6), II, 957.

Links. Biographical and funeral information, in German, Requiem Datenbank; his portrait, arms and prosopography, in German, Requiem Datenbank; portrait with Pope Benedict XIV by Giovanni Paolo Panini, Museo di Roma; the cardinal in his art gallery by Giovanni Paolo Panini, Wadsworth Atheneum Art Gallery, Hartford, Connecticut, United States of America; his portrait by Giuseppe M. Montesanti, in a private colection in Bologna; his engraving by Niccolò Billy, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; and his tombstone, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali.

(1) This is the text of his epitaph taken from Requiem Datenbank, linked above:

D.    O.    M.
SILVIUS GONZAGA VALENTIUS MANTUANUS EPISC. SABIN.
S.R.E. CAMERARIUS PRAEFECTUS CONGREG. DE PROPAG. FIDE
BENEDICTI XIV P.M.
IN UNIVERSI STATUS NEGOTII SECRETARIUS
IN HOC MONUMENTUO QUOD SIBI VIVENS FECIT
SITUS EST VIXIT ANN. LXVI
OBIIT VITERBII V KAL SEPT ANNO MDCCLVI
ALOYSIUS VALENTIUS U.S.R. FRATRES FIL
INFERRI CURAVIT.

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