The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Clement XIV (1769-1774)
Consistory of September 23, 1771 (VII)


(9) 1. CONTI, Innocenzo (1731-1785)

Birth. February 8, 1731, Rome (1). Son of Stefano Conti, duke of Poli and Guadagnolo, and Maria Vittoria Ruspoli. Brother of Michelangelo Conti, last duke of Poli; and of Father Marcantonio Conti, Somaschan.

Education. Studied at La Sapienza University, Rome, where he earned a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law, on April 27, 1752.

Early life. Entered the Roman prelature in 1747. Referendary of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Siganture, July 1752. Regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 1752. Successively, vicar of S. Nicola in Carcere and of S. Maria ad Martyres. Secretary of the S.C. of Indulgences and Sacred Relics, December 1759 to 1764. Auditor of the Sacred Roman Rota, July 1764; took possession of the post on February 1765. Abbot commendatario of Fossanova. Pope Clement XIV destined him nuncio in Portugal on November 26, 1769.

Sacred orders. (No information found).

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Tiro, December 18, 1769. Consecrated, December 26, 1769, church of S. Maria in Vallicella, Rome, by Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna, assisted by Orazio Mattei, titular archbishop of Colosse, and by Giuseppe Contesini, titular archbishop of Atenae. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, January 1, 1770. Nuncio in Portugal, January 3, 1770 at the request of the Portuguese court and the Marquis of Pombal; the nunciature had been vacant since Archbishop Filippo Acciaiuoli was expelled by the Portuguese government on August 2, 1760, as a result of disagreements with the Holy See after the expulsion of the Jesuits from the kingdom; he left for Lisbon in the following February, visiting in his journey the courts of Florence, Parma, Turin and Madrid.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal and reserved in pectore in the consistory of September 23, 1771; published in the consistory of April 19, 1773; the pope sent him the red biretta with ablegato apostolic Mons. Marcantonio, Somaschan, his brother. He enjoyed the protection of Portugal, as well as that of Spain and France. Participated in the conclave of 1774-1775, which elected Pope Pius VI. Named secretary of Apostolic Briefs, March 3, 1775, by pressure from Portugal. Received the red hat on March 16, 775; and the title of S. Silvestro in Capite, April 3, 1775. Ascribed to the SS. CC. of Bishops and Regulars, Rites, Council, and Indulgences and Sacred Relics. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, February 25, 1782 until February 17, 1783. Opted for the title of S. Maria in Aracoeli, December 15, 1783. He was protector of the cities of Anagni and Narni; of the Friars Minor Capuchin, March 1774; of the monks of Montevergine; as well as of hospitals, monasteries and pious institutions.

Death. November 15, 1785, in the villa of his family in Frascati. His body was taken to Rome and exposed in the church of S. Marcello, Rome, where the funeral took place. He was buried in his title, S. Maria in Aracoeli (2). In 1786, the Vatican Library, acquired for 250 scudi the books that belonged to Cardinal Conti, including the two Hebrew 485 and 486, containing a literal Latin version of the Pentateuch. The late cardinal had cultivated the letters, and in particular the archeology and was lucumone of the Etruscan Academy.

Bibliography. Karttunen, Liisi. Les nonciatures apostoliques permanentes de 1650 à 1800. Genève : E. Chaulmontet, 1912, p. 239; Notizie per l'anno MDCCLXXV. In Roma MDCCLXXV : Nella Stamperia Cracas, presso S. Marco al Corso, p. 108; 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. 28, 46, 49, 56 and 424; Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. in 53. Venezia : Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, XVII, 87-88; Weber, Christoph. Senatus divinus : verborgene Strukturen im Kardinalskollegium der frühen Neuzeit (1500-1800). Frankfurt am Main ; New York : Peter Lang, 1996, p. 521, no. 753.

Links. Biography by L. Bertoni, in Italian, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Treccani; his engraving by Antonio Capellan, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his arms and tomb in the church of S. Maria in Aracoeli, Rome, Requiem Datenbank.

(1) This is according to Ritzler, Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi, VI, 424; and his biography in Italian, linked above. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni, XVII, 87; and Notizie per l'anno MDCCLXXV, p. 108, say that he was born on February 1, 1731.
(2) This is the text of his epitaph, taken from the photograph of his tomb, linked above:

MEMORIAE AETERNAE
INNOCENTII DE COMITIBVS
MVNERIBVS XII VIRI STLITIBVS JVDICANDIS
MISSIQ AD LVSITANVS LEGATI APOSTOLICI
PRAECLARE GESTIS
A CLEMENTE XIV INTER
PRESBYTEROS CARDINALES ADLECTI
PIO AVTEM SEXTO A BREVIBVS
MICHAEL ANGELVS DVX POLI
FRATRI AMANTISSIMO
MOERENS POSVIT
DECESS TVSCVLI XVII KALENDAS DECEMBRES
A VULG ALRAE CIC IC CC LXXXV
ROMAE IN TEMPLO ARAE COELI
SEDE TITVLI SVI CONDITVS
VIXIT ANN LIV M IX DIE XIV
AVI IT VALL IN PACE

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