The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Clement XII (1730-1740)
Consistory of June 23, 1738 (XI)
Celebrated in Rome


(29) 1. PASSIONEI, Domenico Silvio (1682-1761)

Birth. December 2, 1682. Fossombrone. Of a noble family. Second of the two children of Count Benedetto Passionei and Virginia Sabatelli. Baptized on December 3, 1682. His last name is also listed as Passioneo. Nephew of Msgr. Guido Passionei, secretary of the Cipher, of the S.C. Consistorial, and of the Sacred College of Cardinals. In 1787, at the death of his nephew Benedetto Passionei, cleric of the Apostolic Chamber, the family was extinguished.

Education. He was sent to Rome to study when he was thirteen years old; attended the Somaschan Collegio Clementino (1695-1701; doctorate in philosophy, 1701); La Sapienza University, Rome (doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law).

Early life. Ablegato apostolic to present the red biretta to the nuncio in Paris, Filippo Antonio Gualterio, 1706; remained in that city two years, 1706 to 1708, as secretary of the nunciature, and acquired his Jansenistic sympathies, which he had throughout his life. Papal agent to the Peace Conference of The Hague, 1708, and to the one in Utrecht, 1712. Junior lawyer in the Supreme tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace, 1713. Procurator of the Holy See in Baden for the signing of the peace treaty among the Christian princes, 1714; and in Solothurn, 1716. Inquisitor in the Island of Malta, 1717-1719. Pro-secretary of the S.C. of Propaganda Fide, November 1720 until January 1721, when he became ill and returned to Fossombrone. Secretary of Latin Letters.

Sacred orders. Received the subdiaconate on July 6, 1721; and the diaconate on July 13, 1721.

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Efeso, July 16, 1721. Consecrated, July 25, 1721, church of S. Bernardo, Rome, by Cardinal Fabrizio Paolucci, assisted by Prospero Marefoschi, titular bishop of Cirene, and by Camillo Marazzani, bishop of Parma. Nuncio in Switzerland, July 30, 1721. Nuncio in Austria, December 23, 1730. Blessed the marriage of the future empress Maria-Theresa, 1738. Member of the Academy of Berlin. Secretary of Apostolic Briefs, March 1738; took possession in June 1738; occupied the post until his death.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of June 23, 1738; received the red hat and the title of S. Bernardo alle Terme, July 23, 1738. Abbot commendatario of S. Maria di Farfa from 1738. Named protector of the Cistercian Reformed Order, August 19, 1738. Abbot commendatario of Farfa in September 1738. Participated in the conclave of 1740, which elected Pope Benedict XIV. Pro-librarian of the Holy Roman Church, July 10, 1741, during the absence of the librarian, Cardinal Angelo Maria Quirini. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, January 29, 1748 until January 20, 1749. Opposed the beatification of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, S.J., 1754. Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, January 22, 1755 until his death. Opted for the title of S. Prassede, retaining his first title in commendam, February 17, 1755. In 1755, he became foreign member of the Academy of Berlin; and of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres of France. Participated in the conclave of 1758, which elected Pope Clement XIII. Opted for the title of S. Lorenzo in Lucina, retaining in commendam his first title, February 12, 1759. Cardinal protoprete. He was a great enemy of the Society of Jesus and worked tirelessly for its suppression. His 32000-volume library, in his residence of Palazzo della Consulta, was open to everybody. He was the only cardinal whom Voltaire said he longed to become personally acquainted with. He was also prior commendatario of S. Salvatore, Ascoli; and abbot commendatario of S. Croce di Sassovivo, Foligno. Besides his very large library, he had a collection of five hundred paintings in his palace of Fossombrone.

Death. July 5, 1761, in his retirement at the Camaldolese monastery, near Frascati. Transported privately to Rome and exposed in his titular church of S. Lorenzo in Lucina, of the Clerics Minor Regulars, where the funeral took place; and buried in the Camaldolese church of S. Bernardo alle Terme, Rome, his commendam (1). It is said that the cardinal had fled to the monastery to avoid signing the papal brief condemning the book "Exposition De La Doctrine Chrétienne, Ou Instructions Sur Les Principales Verites De La Religion: Tome Premier", by Father François-Philippe Mésenguy. The pope demanded his signature and this upset the cardinal so greatly that he died a few days later.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. 9 vols. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1794, VIII, 287-291; Cittadini Fulvi, Maria. "Le amicizie francesi del cardinale Domenico Passionei, Cultura e societ` nel settecento : Atti del X Convegno del Centro di Studi Avellaniti, Fonte Avellana, 1986. Fonte Avellana : Il Centro, 1987-, pp. 11-28; Finch, Urban. Die Luzerner Nuntiatur 1586-1873 : Zur Behördengeschichte und Quellenkunde der päpstlichen Diplomatie in der Schweiz. Luzern ; Stuttgart : Rex Verlag, 1997. (Collectanea Archivi Vaticani ; Bd. 40) (Luzerner Historische Veröffentlichungen ; Bd. 32); Montignano, Maria Castelbarco Albani Visconti Simonetta. Un grande bibliofilo del sec. XVIII, il cardinale Domenico Passionei. Firenze : L.S. Olschki, 1937; Notizie per l'anno1763. In Roma MDCCLXIII : Nella Stamperia del Chracas, p. 132, no. 17; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen VI (1730-1799). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, p. 196; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen VI (1730-1799). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, pp. 8, 42, 44, 48 and 56; Sgreccia, Elio. "Il Cardinale Domenico Passionei dall'incontro con i benedettini di S. Mauro a Parigi (1706) alla residenza nel romitorio di Camaldoli a Frascati, in: Ascetica cristiana e ascetica giansenista e quietista nelle regioni d'influenza avellanita : atti del I Convegno del Centro di studi avellaniti, Fonte Avellana, 1977. . Fonte Avellana : Il Centro, 1978, pp. 27-109; Squicciarini, Donato. Nunzi apostolici a Vienna. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998, p. 162-164; Weber, Christoph and Becker, Michael. Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. 6 v. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 1999-2002. (Päpste und Papsttum, Bd. 29, 1-6), II, 733-734.

Links. Biography by Umberto Benigni, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography, in German; his portrait and biography, in French, Wikipedia; his portrait by Domenico e Giuseppe Duprà, Pinacoteca di Fossombrone; his portrait by Giuseppe Ceccarini, I Musei Civici a Palazzo Ciacchi Pesaro; his engraving by Rouviere, Accademia Carrara, Museo, Bergamo, Regione Lombardia - Università degli Studi di Pavia; his engraving by Sylvestre Pomarde, Deutsche Fotothek; his engraving by Niccolò Billy, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his engraving by an unknown artist, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his bust, Pinacoteca di Fossombrone, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; and his tomb in the church of S. Bernardo alle Terme, Rome, Requiem Datenbank.

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

D ·     O ·    M ·
DOMINICO . PASSIONEO . FOROSEMPRON.
S . R . E . BIBLIOTHECARIO
TITVLI . S. LAVRENTII . IN . PRESBYTERO
S. BERNARDI . AD. THERMAS . COMMENDATARIO
CLEMEN. XII . BENED . XIV . CLEMEN . XIII
BREVIVM . A . SECRETIS
VLTRAJECTI . ET . BADENS . CELEBERRIMIS . IN COMITIIS
APOSTOLICAE . SEDIS . NOMINE
PVBLICAE . TRANQVILLITATIS . AC . PACIS . CONCILIATORI
LEGATIONIBVS . AD . HELVETIOS . ET . CAROLVM . VI. IMP.
PRECLARE . GESTIS
GENERIS . SPLENDORE . MORVM . GRAVITATE
RELIGIONIS . STVDIO
SPECTATISSIMO
LITERARVM . AC . BONARVM . ARTIVM
CVLTORVI . FAVTORI . EXIMIO
DOCTORVM . VIRORVM . GRAVI . CONSTANTIQVE . IVDICIO
DOMI . FORISQVE . SAPIENTIAE . LAVDE . INLVSTRI
PAVLVS . BENEDICTVS . LVDOVICVS
PATRVO . BENEMERENTISSIMO . MORENTES
P . P.
OIJIT . TERTIO . NON . JVL . A . R . S . M . DCC . LXI
AETAT . A . LXXIX . M . VI . D . III

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