The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846)
Consistory of February 18, 1839 (XIII)

(47) 1. ACTON, Charles Januarius (1803-1847)

Birth. March 6, 1803, Naples. Neapolitan patrician. Second son of Sir John Francis Acton, sixth baronet of Aldenhan Hall, Birdgnorth, Shorpshire, and Mary Anne Acton, who was his niece. The family had moved to Naples from England shortly before his birth. His father was prime minister and commander-in-chief in the Kingdom of Naples. He was the uncle of English historian Lord Acton.

Education. School of Abbé Auéqué, Parsons Green, London (1811); Westminster School, London (had to leave it because of his religion); private tutoring with an Anglican clergyman; Magdalene College, Cambridge University, Cambridge (1819). Following his ecclesiastical vocation, went to Rome; Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles, Rome (1823).

Priesthood. Ordained (no information found). Domestic prelate of His Holiness Leo XII. Secretary of the nunciature in France, 1828. Governor of Bologna shortly after. Secretary of the S.C. of the Discipline of Regulars. Auditor general of the Apostolic Chamber, February 2, 1837.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal and reserved in pectore in the consistory of February 18, 1839; published in the consistory of January 24, 1842; received the red hat and the title of S. Maria della Pace, January 27, 1842. Instrumental in the division of England into eight apostolic vicariates, 1840. Interpreter in the interview between Pope Gregory XVI and Czar Nicholas I of Russia, 1845. Participated in the conclave of 1846, which elected Pope Pius IX. Opted for the title of S. Marco, December 21, 1846. Prefect of the S.C. of Indulgences and Relics, December 22, 1846. Due to his poor health, retired to Palermo and later to Naples. The king of Naples had asked him to accept the appointment of archbishop of Naples, but he refused.

Death. June 23, 1847, Naples, in the house of the Society of Jesus. Exposed and buried, temporarily, in the metropolitan cathedral of Naples.

Bibliography. Baxter, Dudley. England's cardinals. With an appendix showing the reception of the sacred pallium by the archbishops of canterbury and Westminster. London : Burns & Oates, 1903, pp. 75-76; Bellenger, Dominic Aidan, and Stella Fletcher. Princes of the Church. A history of the English cardinals. Gloucestershire : Sutton Publishing, 2001, pp. 111-113; 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. 32, 42 and 43.

Links. Biography by John Joseph A'Becket, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; his genealogy, A1 B2, Libro d'Oro della Nobilità Mediterranea; biography, in English, Wikipedia; biography, in Italian, Wikipedia; his portrait as a child, Italian School (possibly), The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, The Public Catalogue Foundation, BBC; his portrait by Vincenzo Morani, The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, The Public Catalogue Foundation, BBC.

Top Consistories Catalogs Home

©1998-2014 Salvador Miranda.