The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Pius VI (1775-1799)
Consistory of April 24, 1775 (I)


(1) 1. ANTONELLI, Leonardo (1730-1811)

Birth. November 6, 1730, Senigallia. Younger of the three children of Count Filippo Antonelli and his second wife, Cattarina Castracani. The other siblings were Angelo and Bernardino; he had a half-sister, Vittoria, daughter of his father and his first wife, Vittoria Marazzani. Nephew of Cardinal Niccolò Maria Antonelli (1759).

Education. He was sent to Rome in 1734, where he completed his studies, demonstrating more inclination for the civil and canon laws.

Sacred orders. Received the subdiaconate on March 11, 1764.

Priesthood. Ordained (no information found). Alternate to the prefecture of the archives of Castel S. Angelo, held by his uncle, Monsignor Niccolò Maria; succeeded him when he left the post vacant in 1753. Sommista of the Apostolic Chancery, April 1756. Secretary of the S.C. Consistorial and of the Sacred College of Cardinals, March 1757; intervened in that capacity in the conclave that elected Pope Clement XIII in 1758 and wrote the diary of the ballots. Secretary of the Cipher in September 1759. Consultor of the S.C. of the Index. Canon of the patriarchal Vatican basilica in July 1763. Assessor of the S.C. of the Roman and Universal Inquisition in September 1766. His letter in the form of a brief, dated January 30, 1768), with which he defended Pope Clemente XIII against the court of Parma, earned him a violent hostility which culminated in an attempt in which Monsignor Saverio Antonelli was killed by mistake.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of April 24, 1775; received the red hat on April 27, 1775; and the title of S. Sabina, May 24, 1775. In June 1775, he was named abbot commendatario of Ss. Vito e Pancrazio, Todi; of S. Firmano, Macerata; and of S. Vittore, Cingoli. Prefect of the S.C. of Propaganda Fide and its printing press, May 2, 1780; ceased as prefect of Propaganda Fide on February 27, 1795. He took on the difficult negotiations with Russia for the reorganization of the Catholic hierarchy and the creation of the archdiocese of Mogilev; he also intervened in the Irish question; and before the constitutional schism of France, at least initially, he held a moderate opinion. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, June 25, 1784 until 1785. After the Revolution broke out in France, he was asked to join, along with Cardinals Gian Francesco Albani, Vitaliano Borromeo, Filippo Campanelli, Guglielmo Pallotta and Gregorio Salviati, the Congregation for the Affairs of France, which was to examine the situation that followed the promulgation of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy; and oriented the hard decisions of the pope. Supported France's Civil Constitution of the Clergy of July 12, 1790, to avoid the suspension of religious services.

Episcopate. Opted for the order of bishops and the suburbicarian see of Palestrina, February 21, 1794. Consecrated, March 19, 1794, chapel of Collegio of Propaganda Fide, Rome, by Cardinal Giovanni Francesco Albani, assisted by Ottavio Boni, titular archbishop of Nazianzo, and by Simone de Magistris, titular bishop of Cirene. Named prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice, February 27, 1795. Prefect of the Congregation for the Correction of the Books of the Oriental Church in 1796. After invasion of the Papal States by the French, in the extraordinary congregation of February 4, 1797, on the eve of the negotiations of Tolentino, the cardinal spoke out against the peace and for the continuation of hostilities. When Pope Pius VI was banished from Rome in February 1798, the pope placed him at the head of two commissions of cardinals, in charge of civil and ecclesiastical affairs, but on March 9 he was also arrested and imprisoned in the convent of the convent delle Convertite and pressed to resign the cardinalate, which he refused vehemently; after twenty days of imprisonment, he was let go to Livorno with several other cardinals; and then, he went to the Dominican convent in Civitavecchia. Later, he found refuge with the Passionists in Monte Argentario, from where he went to Venice for the conclave. Participated in the conclave of 1799-1800, which elected Pope Pius VII. Returned to Rome with the new pope and became part of the congregation for the reorganization of the Papal States. Opted for the suburbicarian see of Porto e Santa Rufina, April 2, 1800. Sub-dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Secretary of the S.C. of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, November 8, 1800 until his death. He was prominently involved in the analysis of the 1801 Concordat between the Holy See and France once it was signed and prior to its ratification in August 1801; and was among the most rigid opponents of the demands of the First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte, especially opposing Article 1 of the Concordat considering intolerable the restrictions to public worship. Grand penitentiary, December 22, 1801 until his death; he had been acting as pro-penitentiary for sometime because of the illness of the titular, Cardinal Francesco Xaverio de Zelada. Prefect of the S.C. of the Index. Archpriest of the patriarchal Lateran basilica, December 1801, succeeding Cardinal Zelada. Accompanied Pope Pius VII to Paris in 1804 for the coronation of Emperor Napoléon I he acted as pro-secretary of State because Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, the secretary of State, stayed in Rome with full powers. Opted for the suburbicarian see of Ostia e Velletri, proper of the dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, August 3, 1807. Pro-secretary of Apostolic Briefs. When the French banished him from Rome on September 6, 1808, he went to Spoleto; then to Macerata; and later to Senigallia, where he died. He was one of the first cardinal to support the re-establishment of the Society of Jesus. He was a protector of letters and litterati; and was very interested in archeology; he collected a rich library, the librarian of which was Francesco Cancellieri; he was among the corresponding members of the Académie des inscriptions of Paris. His "Relazione del cardinale Antonelli sull'avvenuto in Roma dal 1797 al 1799" is unpublished in the fond Falzacappa of the Biblioteca Vallicelliana of Rome.

Death. January 23, 1811, Senigallia. Exposed in the cathedral of Senigallia; and buried in his family's chapel in that cathedral. In his will, he left funds to support twelve Armenian students in Collegio Urbano of Propaganda Fide.

Bibliography. Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. in 53. Venezia : Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, II, 217; 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. 30, 40 and 48; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen VII (1800-1846). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, pp. 37 and 38; Weber, Christoph and Becker, Michael. Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. 6 v. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 1999-2002. (Päpste und Papsttum, Bd. 29, 1-6), I, 55.

Links. Biography by F. M. Rudge, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography by Vittorio Emanuele Giuntella, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 3 (1961), Treccani; his portrait, Ostra, Sirpac sistema informativo Regione Marche; his portrait, Senigallia, Sirpac sistema informativo Regione Marche; his portrait, 1794, Artpast, Ministero per i Beni e le attività culturali; his portrait, Pinacoteca di Treia, Artpast, Ministero per i Beni e le attività culturali; his engraving by Antonio Capella, CalcoGRAFICA - Istituto Nazionale della Grafica; his engraving by Antonio Capellan, Araldica Vaticana; and his tombstone, diocese of Senigallia.

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(2) 1. VECCHI, Bernardino de' (1699-1775)

Birth. June 28, 1699, Siena. He is also listed as Bernardinus de Vechiis. He was the great-grandson of a cousin of Pope Alexander VII, named Alessandro Marsili, through whom he was also related to the Farnese family; and by his wife, who was from the family Bichi, he also descended from the Piccolomini and Petrucci families. His last name is also listed as De Vecchis.

Education. (No information found).

Early life. He entered the ecclesiastical state and went to Rome. Referendary of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, April 1728. Voter of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice, March 1734; and of the Apostolic Signature of Grace, December 1751. Dean of the voters of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice, 1752. Cleric of the Apostolic Chamber, December 1753. Prefect of the Annona, December 1753; and again in Octuber 1766. President of the Zecca, September 1759. Prefect of the Grascia, November 1761. Abbot commendatario of S.Girolamo di Siena, January 1769. Dean of the clerics of the Apostolic Chamber, 1772). Abbot commendatario of S. Maria di Capolongo, Arezzo, February 1771.

Sacred orders. (No information found).

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of April 24, 1775; received the red hat on April 27, 1775; and the deaconry of S. Cesareo in Palatio, May 29, 1775 (1).

Death. Sunday December 24, 1775, around 9 p.m., after suffering from a grave illness, in Rome. Exposed in the Servite church of S. Marcello, Rome, where the funeral took place on Thursday December 28; and his body was privately transferred to and buried in the church of S. Caterina di Siena, a strada Giulia, Rome. In his will, he named his nephew as his heir; and left an annuity for life to his domestics.

Bibliography. Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. in 53. Venezia : Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, XIX, 263; 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. 30 and 50; Weber, Christoph. Senatus divinus : verborgene Strukturen im Kardinalskollegium der frühen Neuzeit (1500-1800). Frankfurt am Main ; New York : Peter Lang, 1996, p. 522, no 756.

Links. Biographical data, in Italian, Gazzetta universale: o sieno notizie istorice, politiche, di scienze, arti, agricoltura, ec., vol. III, num. 1, Martedi 2 Gennajo 1776, p. 7; his engraving by Antonio Capellan, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his engraving by Antonio Capellan, Araldica Vaticana; and his portrait, Arredi e Dipinti antichi provenienti da una collezione fiorentina, mercoledl 9 novembre 2006, ore 16.00, lote 307, page 100.

(1) According to Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes, vol. XXXVIII, Appendix, p. 584, he was one of the cardinals created by Pope Clement XIV, reserved in pectore and never published.

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