The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Clement XIV (1769-1774)
Consistory of June 17, 1771 (VI)


(7) 1. VISCONTI, Antonio Eugenio (1713-1788)

Birth. June 13, 1713, Milan. From the Signori of Brignano. Youngest child of Annibale Visconti, official in the imperial army and field marshal and castellano of Milan, and Claudia Erba Odescalchi. His godfather was Prince Eugenio of Savoy. From childhood he was destined for the ecclesiastical career.

Education. Studied at the University of Pavia, where he obtained a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law, on December 19, 1737. He was an accomplished orator.

Early life. After he worked with great success as a lawyer in Milan, from 1737 to 1740, he went to Rome, where relatives held high positions in the Curia: Giovanni Battista Visconti as auditor of the Sacred Roman Rota; and Antonio Maria Erba Odescalchi as prefect of the Apostolic Palace and cardinal in 1759. Entered the Roman Curia and his career advanced quickly. Prelate of the S.C. of Indulgences, 1742. Relator of the S.C. of Good Government. Datary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, September 1743. Relator of the S.C. of the Sacred Consulta, 1748. Secretary of the S.C. of Indulgences and Sacred Relics, October 1754. Administrator of the hospital S. Gallo, Rome, and primicerius of the Archconfraternity degli Pellegrini, and of Carmine. Referendary of the Supreme Tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace.

Priesthood. Ordained, December 22, 1759.

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Efeso, January 28, 1760. Consecrated, February 16, 1760, Quirinale palace, Rome, by Pope Clement XIII, assisted by Filippo Caucci, titular patriarch of Constantinople, and by Giuseppe Locatelli, titular archbishop of Cartago. In the same ceremony were consecrated Francesco Carafa della Spina di Traetto, titular archbishop of Patras, future cardinal; and Pietro Colonna Pamphili, titular archbishop of Colosse, also future cardinal. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, February 20, 1760. Nuncio in Poland, February 22, 1760; he arrived in Warsaw the following November. Abbot commendatario of Grattafoglio, February 1764. Provost commendatario of S. Abbondio, Cremona, March 1765. Nuncio in Austria, November 22, 1766; he had to wait in Poland until his successor arrived and did not go to Vienna until the end of August 1767.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal and reserved in pectore in the consistory of June 17, 1771; published in the consistory of April 19, 1773; the pope sent him the red biretta with an apostolic brief dated April 24, 1773. Abbot commendatario of S. Giovanni di Vertemate, Como, May 1774. Participated in the conclave of 1774-1775, which elected Pope Pius VI. Received the red hat on March 16, 1775; and the title of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, April 3, 1775. Protector of the Milanese national church of Ss. Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso. Prefect of the Economy of the S.C. of Propaganda Fide, May 1776. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, March 20, 1780 until April 2, 1781. Prefect of the S.C. of Indulgences and Sacred Relics, 1782. He had Jansenist leanings. He lived in a time of upheaval, of struggle of old ideas with new ones. He often found himself in an inner conflict between what he recognized as the requirements of the time, and the duties demanded of him by his position as prince of the church and papal legate. He always showed himself here as a dutiful defender of the Church and its rights. The term "Catholic Enlightenment," which has prevailed in modern research more and more, indicates his state of mind most likely.

Death. March 4, 1788, Rome. Exposed in the church of Ss. Ambrogio e Carlo, Rome, where the funeral took place, according to the disposition of the pope; in the cappella papale, the requiem mass was celebrated by Cardinal Guglielmo Pallotta, camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe participated in the funeral; once the ceremonies were finished, the body was placed in the usual cases of albuccio, cypress and lead, and in the evening, transferred to basilica of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, his title, and buried in the place intended by the cardinal while he was living in the middle of the church not far from the entrance.

Bibliography. Ellemunter, Anton. Antonio Eugenio Visconti und die Anfänge des Josephinismus: eine Untersuchung über das theresianische Staatskirchentum unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Nuntiaturberichte, 1767-1774. Graz : H. Böhlaus Nachf., 1963. (Publikationen der Abteilung für Historische Studien des Österreichischen Kulturinstitutes in Rom. 1. Abt.: Abhandlungen. 3. Bd.; Variation: Österreichisches Kulturinstitut in Rom.; Abteilung für Historische Studien.; Publikationen. 1. Abt.: Abhandlungen ; 3. d); Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. in 53. Venezia : Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, CI, 72-74; 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. 27, 43, 56 and 209; Squicciarini, Donato. Nunzi apostolici a Vienna. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998, p. 177-181; Visconti, Antonio Eugenio. Positio super virtutibus. Romae : Typ. Cam. Apostolicae, 1786. (Neapolitana Beatificationis et Canonizationis ven. servi dei Caroli Caraffae Congregationis Piorum Operariorum Fundatoris / Sacra congregatione rituum . ; [3.]; Variation: Neapolitana Beatificationis et Canonizationis ven. servi dei Caroli Caraffae Congregationis Piorum Operariorum Fundatoris / Sacra congregatione rituum . ; [3.]). Responsibility: (Card. Vicecomite [Ant. Eugenio Visconti]) ponente; Visconti, Antonio Eugenio ; Cornaro, Andreas ; Lindeck-Pozza, Irmtraut. Der Schriftverkehr zwischen dem pdpstlichen Staatssekretariat und dem Nuntius am Kaiserhof Antonio Eugenio Visconti, 1764-1774. Wien : Hermann Böhlaus Nachf., 1970. (Publikationen des Österreichischen Kulturinstituts in Rom. 2. Abteilung, Quellen ; 2. Reihe; Nuntiaturberichte ; 1. Bd.; Variation: Publikationen des Österreichischen Kulturinstituts in Rom.; 2. Abteilung, ; Quellen ; 2. Reihe.; Nuntiaturberichte ;; 1. Bd. Note: Lists several thousand documents from the Vatican Archives relating to the Austrian Empire, with a brief statement of each document's contents and its location in the Archive's files. There is an index of all names and places mentioned in the documents; Weber, Christoph. Die päpstlichen Referendare 1566-1809 : Chronologie und Prosopographie. 3 vols. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 2003-2004. (Päpste und Papsttum ; Bd. 31/1, 31/2, 31/3; Variation: Päpste und Papsttum ; Bd. 31); Weber, Christoph. Senatus divinus : verborgene Strukturen im Kardinalskollegium der frühen Neuzeit (1500-1800). Frankfurt am Main ; New York : Peter Lang, 1996, p. 521, no. 752.

Link. Biography by Stefan Samerski, in German, Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon; biography, in Italian, Wikipedia; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving by Antonio Capellan, CalcoGRAFICA - Istituto Nazionale della Grafica.

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(8) 2. GIRAUD, Bernardino (1721-1782)

Birth. July 14, 1721, Rome. The family, of French origin, had moved in the mid-seventeenth century from Lyon to Rome, where it had become rich as traders, making large purchases of real estate in Lazio, earning the title of count and a solid social position. They owned the monumental palace of Borgo (today in Via della Conciliazione), attributed to Bramante. Third of the five children of Pietro Giraud and Altilia Zagaroli. The other siblings were Alessio, Stefano, Ferdinando and Plautilla.

Education. Studied philosophy and theology at Collegio Tolomei, in Siena, under Father Lorenzo Ricci, S.J., future superior general of the Society of Jesus; and later, at the University of Siena, where he earned a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law, on September 11, 1738.

Early life. Returned to Rome from Siena in 1739 and received the ecclesiastical tonsure from the vicegerent of Rome, Archbishop Francesco Spada. Protected by Cardinal Luigi Maria Torrigiani and enjoying the goodwill of Popes Benedict XIV and Clement XIII, he entered the Roman prelature and made rapid progress. Referendary of the Supreme Tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace, January 26, 1741. Referendary of the S.C. of Good Government, September 1743-1747. Voter of the S.C. of the Apostolic Visit, 1744. relate of the S.C. of the Council, 1745?. Voter of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice, April 1747. Commissary apostolic in Nursiaand Ascoli to delineate the border with the Kingdom of Naples, 1750. Vicar of S. Maria in Via Lata until 1750. Judge of the Reverend Fabric of St. Peter's December 1755. Lieutenant of the auditor of the Apostolic Chamber, September 1759. Named auditor of the Sacred Roman Rota in November 1762, having shown to have an income of 2000 ducats; he replaced the late Auditor Pietro Frangipane, who died on November 15, 1762 took possession, May 13, 1763.

Priesthood. Ordained, March 19, 1767.

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Damasco April 6, 1767. Consecrated, April 26, 1767, in a chapel of the Apostolic Palace of the Quirinale, Rome, by Pope Clement XIII, assisted by Scipione Borghese, titular archbishop of Teodosia, and by Ignazio Reali, titular archbishop of Atena. Nuncio in France, April 28, 1767. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, May 28, 1767. Abbot commendatario of the abby of Gorze, July 1771; he kept the post even after he finished his nunciature. He had created an effective network of pressure to get the promotion to the cardinalate: Marie-Jeanne Bécu, countess Du Barry and the new foreign minster, the duke Aiguillon, maneuvered from Versailles; and the French ambassador in Rome François-Joachim de Pierre de Bernis, who had an excellent relationship with Nuncio Giraud, supported his promotion. In addition, because the pope resisted, the king himself came to write personally to remind the pontiff that, based on some vague promises made by Pope Clement XIV in a letter dated September 26, 1770, he had pledged his word to get the nuncio the purple.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal and reserved in pectore in the consistory of June 17, 1771; published in the consistory of April 19, 1773; the pope sent him the red biretta with an apostolic brief dated April 24, 1773, with his brother Stefano, acting as ablegato apostolic; he received the red biretta in Viterbo, while traveling to Rome from France; received the red hat on July 15, 1773; and the title of SS. Trinità al Monte Pincio on December 20, 1773. Ascribed to the SS. CC. Consistorial, Examination of Bishops, Council, Bishops and Regulars, Reverend Fabric of St. Peter's; and Indulgences and Sacred Relics. Transferred to the archbishopric of Ferrara, March 15, 1773, which had been vacant for five years; having no ability and pastoral experience, he was not enthusiastic about the appointment to Ferrara; he sent from Paris his first pastoral letter on April 4; took possession of the diocese by proxy on the 27 of the same month; received the pallium on December 26, 1773; he went to Ferrara in January 1774; and made his solemn entrance on the 19. In October 1774, while in Bertinoro, the news of the death of Pope Clement XIV made him leave immediately for Rome. Participated in the conclave of 1774-1775, which elected Pope Pius VI. Pro-auditor of His Holiness (uditore Sanctissimi), February 1775, because of his support of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Braschi, Pope Pius VI, in the conclave. He returned to Ferrara after the conclave only for a short period; on September 29, 1775, he ordered a pastoral visit and confirmations, but soon returned to Rome, from where on February 19, 1776, he sent as a vicar general Monsignor Antonini. On January 10, 1776, he was named protector of the Order of S. Girolamo of the Congregation Observant of Lombardy; on January 13. 1777, of the Third Order Regular of S. Francesco d'Assisi; and on the following day, January 14, of the of Order of the Friars Minor Observant; of the Order Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem; as well as of countless cities and monasteries of the Papal States. Resigned the government of the archbishopric of Ferrara, February 14, 1777. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, April 2, 1781 until February 25, 1782. In 1782, Pope Pius VI decided on his controversial visit to Emperor Joseph II in Vienna. Cardinal Giraud strenuously opposed it. During the absence of the pope from Rome, strong rumors circulated that the pontiff had in Vienna discovered serious irregularities committed by his pro-uditore (rescripts of concessions made to the emperor without the pope's knowledge, in a situation very delicate and controversial) and that he was furious with the cardinal, threatening dire punishment upon his return.

Death. May 3, 1782, of a sudden colic, in his palace in Rome. Exposed in the church of S. Maria in Vallicella, Rome, where the funeral took place; the requiem mass was celebrated by Cardinal Francesco Saverio Zelada, in the presence of eighteen other cardinals; and then, he was buried in front of the chapel of his family, dedicated to the Coming of the Holy Spirit, in that same church. In his testament, he ordered the celebration of 3000 masses for the salvation of his soul (1).

Bibliography. Bertoldi, Francesco Leopoldo. Vescovi ed arcivescovi di Ferrara dalla prima loro epoca sino all' anno MDCCCXVIII : Notizie cronologiche ... 2 pts. Ferrara, 1818. (Allegazioni e note; Variation: Allegazioni e note). pp. 52-54; Karttunen, Liisi. Les nonciatures apostoliques permanentes de 1650 à 1800. Genève : E. Chaulmontet, 1912, p. 246; Meluzzi, Luciano. Gli arcivescovi di Ferrara. Bologna Bologna : Scuola prof. tip. Sordomuti, 1970. (Collana storico-ecclesiastica, n. 5), p. 52-56; Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. in 53. Venezia : Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, XXXI, pp. 81-83; XXIV, p. 184; 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. 27, 49, 56 and 215; Weber, Christoph. Die päpstlichen Referendare 1566-1809 : Chronologie und Prosopographie. 3 vols. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 2003-2004. (Päpste und Papsttum ; Bd. 31/1, 31/2, 31/3; Variation: Päpste und Papsttum ; Bd. 31), II, 648.

Links. Biography by G. G. Fagioli Vercellone, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Treccani; his episcopal lineage by Charles N. Bransom, Jr. in English, Apostolic Succession in the Roman Catholic Church; his engraving by Georgio Bonelli, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California, United States of America; his engraving by Giorgio Bonelli, NYPL Digital Gallery; his engraving by Carlo Antonini, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his tombstone, Europeana.

(1) His biography in Italian by G. G. Fagioli Vercellone, linked above, says that: Persistent rumors said that the cardinal was not dead, but had fled to France, where he enjoyed powerful protection, and that the corpse which had been buried with great ceremony in the family chapel in S. Maria in Vallicella was that of a dead man which had been taken from the nearby hospital of S. Spirito in Sassia, to whom a wax mask with the likeness of the cardinal had been set. A proof of the falseness of these rumors was the cardinal's will: besides the considerable legacy in favor of the family and household, he named his universal heirs the poor in the person of Pope Pius VI, who accepted the inheritance assigning it to the Conservatorio Pio for the erection of a school in S. Salvatore in Lauro. For others, however, that fact was considered a further ruse of Cardinal Giraud.. But it is a fact that the pope remained on good terms with the cardinal's brothers, Alessio and Ferdinando, who in 1796, when the pontiff asked his subjects for military aid, they volunteered and from their own expense they provided thirty armed men on horseback.

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