The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Pius VI (1775-1799)
Consistory of September 26, 1791 (XX)


(63) 1. RUFFO, Fabrizio (1744-1827)

Birth. September 16, 1744, San Lucido, archdiocese of Naples. Of the dukes of Bagnara and the princes of Castelcicala. Neapolitan patrician. He was the second child of Litterio Ruffo e Ruffo, duke of Bagnara and 2nd duke of Baranello, and his second wife, Giustiniana Colonna, princess of Spinoso and marchioness of Guardia Perticara. The other siblings were Giuseppe Antonio, Domenico, Francesco, Giovanna, Maria Caterina, Paolo, and three other daughters. He had a half-brother, Vincenzo; and a half-sister, Alfonsina (a nun in S. Giuseppe de' Ruffi), from his father's first marriage to Giovanna Ruffo, of the princes of Castelcicala. His baptismal name was Fabrizio Dionigi. Grand-nephew of Cardinal Tommaso Ruffo (1706). Second-cousin of Cardinal Antonio Maria Ruffo (1743). Other cardinals of the family were Luigi Ruffo Scilla (1801); and Fulco Luigi Ruffo-Scilla (1891). His last name is also listed as Ruffo di Bagnara and as Ruffo-Baranello.

Education. Entrusted to his grand-uncle the cardinal from 1748, he went to Rome and studied at Collegio Clementino; and at La Sapienza University, where he earned a doctorate in utroque iure, both canon and civil law, on September 19, 1767; he completed his juridical practice under lawyers Antonio Bucci and Antonio Maria Gasparri, both of whom he worked with for a brief time.

Early life. Domestic prelate of His Holiness from May 1764. Entered the Roman prelature as referendary of the Tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace on September 17, 1767. Abbot commendatario of S. Filippo d'Argiro, diocese of Gerace, in August 1775. Cleric of the Apostolic Chamber in January 1781, replacing his late relative Tiberio Ruffo; became its treasurer general on February 14, 1785; he occupied the post for more than ten years as well as the posts of prefect of Castle Sant'Angelo and commissary of the maritime fortifications of the Papal States (commissario del Mare); enjoying the complete trust of the pope, he assumed the principal responsibility of the policy of financial, fiscal and economic reform advocated by Pius VI; the great opposition encountered by his policies led to his promotion to the cardinalate since it entailed his replacement as treasurer general.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal and reserved in pectore in the consistory of September 26, 1791; published in the consistory of February 21, 1794; received the red hat on February 27, 1794; and the deaconry of S. Angelo in Pescheria on September 12, 1794. Ascribed to the SS. CC. of Good Government, delle Acque, Loreto, and Economy. Protector of the Order of Minimos of S. Francesco da Paola; of Conservatorio of Divine Providence, Ripetta; of the Archconfraternity of Spirito Santo of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies; of the Archconfraternity of SS. Sagramento in S. Maria in Cosmedin; of the Confraternity of S. Maria detta di Constantinopoli; and of the Noble Collegio de' Fabbricatori de' Drappi di Lana; and of the city of Orte. Granted dispensation to receive the minor orders, subdiaconate and diaconate outside of the Ember days, January 13, 1795. He left Rome to enter the service of the court of Naples where he accepted from King Ferdinando IV the administration of the royal domain of Caserta and the abbey in commendam of S. Sofia in Benevento in November 1794; and the superintendency of manufactures of San Leucio on November 18, 1797. Followed King Ferdinand IV of Naples to his exile in Palermo after the proclamation of the République Parthénopéenne; on January 25, 1799, he was named by the king vicar general of the kingdom; returned to the continent clandestinely in February 1799 and encouraged the reaction Sanfediste against the revolutionary army of French General Jean Étienne Championnet, and organized the rising of Pouilles and Calabria. Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Capece Zurlo, Theat., archbishop of Naples, tried to avoid the popular uprising; Cardinal Ruffo entered victoriously in Naples on June 15, 1799; he was not able to make prevalent a policy of relative moderation. He left Naples in the first days of November 1799 to go to Venice to take part in the conclave. Participated in the conclave of 1799-1800, celebrated in Venice, which elected Pope Pius VII. After the first restoration of the papal government, Pope Pius VII named him member of the congregation for the reestablishment of the former system of government, July 9, 1800. Opted for the deaconry of S. Maria in Cosmedin, August 11, 1800. In 1801, after resigning as vicar general of the king of Naples, he, briefly, minister of Naples in Rome. He accepted the government of José Bonaparte. He returned to Naples in September 1805; he left for Rome because of the new French invasion in January 1806; after the occupation of the kingdom by the French troops, he sought refuge in Amelia, Umbria; he was included in the list of émigrés and his properties were confiscated by the new regime. He rejoined King Ferdinando IV and his court in Palermo; he was sent to Paris as ambassador before Napoléon; he was one of the eleven cardinals who attended the emperor's wedding to Archduchess Marie-Louise on April 2, 1810; because of that, he was one of the "red cardinals" (not punished by the emperor and allowed the red cardinalitial vestments). Member of the commission of cardinals (together with Aurelio Roverella and Giuseppe Doria), designated by the emperor, that composed the apostolic brief promulgating the decrees of the Council of Paris on September 20, 1811, and persuaded Pope Pius VII, who was in captivity in Savona, to sign it in September 1811. He received the grand cross of the Legion d'honneur. He reentered Rome in May 1814 and was received with certain tepidness as he was later in Naples, where he established his residence. Pope Pius VII named him superintendent of the Annona and the Grascia before February 8, 1815. Grand prior of the Sovereign Order of Malta for the Papal States on May 10, 1817. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, March 29, 1819 until February 21, 1820. Named prefect of the Congregation of Acque, Paludi Pontine e Chiane before February 10, 1821. He returned to Naples in March 1821, when the revolution that has started in July 1820 was already in its final phase because of the arrival of the Austrian troops. Opted for the deaconry of S. Maria in Via Lata, June 27, 1821. Cardinal protodeacon. He formed part of the council of the provisional government that preceded the returned of the king, and continued to be part of the government until his departure for Rome to participate in the conclave of August 1823 at the death of Pope Pius VII, with instructions from the king of the Two Sicilies for the conclave. Participated in the conclave of 1823, which elected Pope Leo XII. He returned to Naples at the end of 1823. Grand prior in Rome of the Order of Jerusalem.

Death. December 13, 1827, Naples. Buried in the chapel of his family, dedicated to S. Caterina d'Alessandria, in the basilica of S. Domenico Maggiore, Naples.

Bibliography. Boutry, Philippe Souverain et Pontife : recherches prosopographiques sur la curie romaine à l'âge de la restauration, 1814-1846. Rome : École française de Rome, 2002, pp. 457-460; Helfert, Joseph Alexander von. Fabrizio Ruffo. Revolution und Gegen-Revolution von Neapel, November 1798 bis August 1799. Wien: W. Braumüller, 1882; Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. in 53. Venezia : Tipografia Emiliana, 1840-1861, LIX, 216-220; Notizie per l'anno M. DCCC. XXII. Rome : Nella Stamperia Cracas, p. 35; Petromasi, Domenico. Alla riconquista del Regno: La marcia del cardinale Ruffo dalle Calabrie a Napoli. Introduzione di Silvio Vitale. Napoli : Il giglio, 1994. Uniform title: Storia della spedizione dell'eminentissimo Cardinale D. Fabizio Ruffo allora vicario generale per S.M. nel Regno di Napoli e degli avvenimenti e fatti d'armi accaduti nel riacquisto del medesimo. Note: Originally published: Storia della spedizione dell'eminentissimo Cardinale D. Fabizio Ruffo allora vicario generale per S.M. nel Regno di Napoli Napoli e degli avvenimenti e fatti d'armi accaduti nel riacquisto del medesimo. Napoli : Vincenzo Manfredi, 1801. Other title: Storia della spedizione dell'eminentissimo Cardinale D. Fabizio Ruffo allora vicario generale per S.M. nel Regno di Napoli; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Volumen VI (1730-1799). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, pp. 37 and 50; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Volumen VII (1800-1846). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1968, pp. 46 and 50; Ruffo, Giovanni ; De Maio, Domenico. Il cardinale Fabrizio Ruffo tra psicologia e storia: L'uomo, il politico, il sanfedista. Soveria Mannelli (Catanzaro) : Rubbettino, 1999; Sacchinelli, Domenico. Memorie storiche sulla vita del Cardinale Fabrizio Ruffo, con osservazioni sulle opere di Coco, di Botta, e di Colletta. Naples : Carlo Cataneo, 1836; Shay, M. L. "Ruffo, Fabrizio." New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003, vol. 12, 402; Weber, Christoph and Becker, Michael. Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. 6 v. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 1999-2002. (Päpste und Papsttum, Bd. 29, 1-6), VI, 837.

Links. Biography, in English Britannica; his portrait and biography, in English, Wikipedia; his portrait and biography, in Italian, Wikipedia; biography, in Italian, Enciclopedie on line, Treccani; his genealogy, A2 H1 I9 J2 K4, Libro d'Oro della Nobiltà Mediterranea; I Sanfilesi ed il cardinale Fabrizio Ruffo, in Italian, Pietro Perri; Famiglia Ruffo, in Italian, Nobili Napoletani; Memorie storiche sulla vita del Cardinale Fabrizio Ruffo by Domenico Sacchinelli, in Italian, Controcorrente Edizioni; Il Generale Fabrizio Ruffo, Cardinale e Principe di Calabria, nel 1799, in Italian, Facebook; Fabrizio Ruffo. Revolution und Gegen-Revolution von Neapel. November 1798 bis August 1799 by Joseph Alexander Helfert, in German, Wien : W. Braumüller, 1882; Internet Archive; Memorie storiche sulla vita del cardinale Fabrizio Ruffo by Domenico Sacchinelli, Carlo Cataneo, 1836, Internet Archive; his portrait, ADSIC, Associazione Culturale Due Sicile -- Sede di Milano; his portrait (1799), Museo della Certosa, Naples, Museo Virtuale della Memoria Colletivadi Matera; his portrait, Cultura Italia, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; his portrait, Cultura Italia, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; his portrait as grand prior of the Order of Malta, Araldica Vaticana; his drawing by Vincent François André, Musée du Louvre; his engraving by an anonymous artist, Antiquariat Hille, Berlin; his engraving by Carlo Antonini, Istituto per la storia del Risorgimento italiano; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; biography, Quaderni Bagnaresi, Anno I, no. 1, Giugno 2011, p. 20-44.

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