Birth. August 27, 1872, Piecenza, Italy. From the noble and ancient family of the counts di Corneliano. Second of the three children of Pietro Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano, a physician, and Angiola Bovarini. His last name is also listed as Nasalli Rocca di Conegliano. Received the sacrament of confirmation in 1880 in the cathedral of Piacenza from Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, bishop of Piacenza. Received the first communion in 1881, while he was a student at "Collegio Vida", Cremona, from Msgr. Geremia Bonomelli. Grand-nephew of Cardinal Ignazio Nasalli (1827). Uncle of Cardinal Mario Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano (1969).
Education. Initial studies in the Jesuit "Collegio Vida", Cremona, 1881; received the ecclesiastical habit in 1887 from Bishop Scalabrini in the chapel of the episcopal residence; then, he studied at the Jesuit "Collegio Alessandro Luzzaga", Brescia, 1887-1888; received the ecclesiastical tonsure in 1888 in Piacenza from Bishop Scalabrini in the parish church of S. Chiara; returned to Piacenza to study philosophy in its Seminary; received the first two minor orders in 1890 in the chapel of the episcopal villa in S. Paolo; and the other two minor orders in 1892 in the parish church of S. Chiara; then, he went to Rome to Seminario Lombardo, in October 1891, where he was classmate of Carlo Perosi and Luigi Sincero, future cardinals; at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, he obtained a doctorate in theology in 1895; finally, he was called to Rome by Pope Leo XIII to study diplomacy at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy; and also obtained a doctorate in canon law in 1898.
Priesthood. Ordained, June 8, 1895, cathedral of Piacenza, by Bishop Scalabrini; celebrated his first mass on the following day, June 9, in the church of S. Pietro Apostolo. Pastoral ministry in the diocese of Piacenza, 1895-1896. Further sudies in Rome, 1896-1898. He collaborated with Bishop Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi of Bergamo in the organization of the Catholic Action in Italy and Rome. In 1899, he was named apprendista in the S.C. of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs with its secretary, Msgr. Felice Cavagnis, future cardinal. Canon coadjutor of the patriarchal Liberian basilica in 1899; named canon in 1902; occupied the post until January 1907. Domestic prelate of His Holiness, May 5, 1902. Protonotary apostolic, May 31, 1902; and President of the Opera delle chiese povere. Between 1903 and 1907, he was ecclesiastical assistant of the Circle of S. Eusebio, one of the most popular parishes of Rome. In 1904, he was named apostolic visitor for the Sacred Visit of Rome ordered by Pope Pius X. In 1905-1906, he was visitor to the dioceses of Ancona, Penne ed Atri, Recanati e Loreto, Teramo e Fermo, Bojano e Campobasso, and to many Italian seminaries.
Episcopate. Elected bishop of Gubbio, January 25, 1907. Consecrated, February 10, 1907, patriarchal Liberian basilica, Rome, by Cardinal Vincenzo Vannutelli, bishop of Palestrina, assisted by Paolo Maria Barone, titular archbishop of Melitene, and by Raffaele Virili, titular bishop of Troade. His episcopal motto was In turris. Promoted to titular archbishop of Tebe di Grecia and appointed privy almoner of His Holiness, December 6, 1916. Canon of the patriarchal Vatican basilica. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, December 9, 1916. General ecclesiastical assistant to the Italian Catholic Youth, from June 1921 until 1926. Transferred to the metropolitan see of Bologna, November 21, 1921.
Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of May 23, 1923; received the red hat and the title of S. Maria in Traspontina, May 25, 1923. Papal legate to the centennial celebrations in honor of Pope Pius VII, Cesena, Italy, July 20, 1923; to the celebration in honor of Our Lady of "Ab Igne," Forlì, Italy, January 21, 1928; to the Plenary Council of Emilia, Italy, 1932. On July 28, 1937, he celebrated the funeral mass for Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi in the metropolitan cathedral of S. Petronio in Bologna. On February 12, 1938, he celebrated the pontifical mass in the Sistine chapel for the 16th anniversary of the coronation of Pope Pius XI. Participated in the conclave of 1939, which elected Pope Pius XII. Papal legate for the translation of the relics of Saint Dominic, August 4, 1946. Cardinal protopriest, May 31, 1951. The cardinal was member of the SS.CC. Consistorial, Ceremonial, of Seminaries and Universities, and of the Reverend Fabric of St. Peter's basilica. He was called the Cardinal of the Eucharist.
Death. March 13, 1952, at 11:27 a.m., in Bologna, of a heart attack for complications from diabetes, after receiving the extreme unction from Archbishop Giacomo Lercaro of Ravenna, and a special blessing from Pope Pius XII. He was assisted in his deathbed, among others, by Danio Dolognini, titular bishop of Sidone and auxiliary of Bologna, and by his nephew, Monsignor Mario Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano. The solemn pontifical funeral mass was celebrated by Cardinal Benedetto Aloisi Masella, pro-prefect of the S.C. for the Discipline of the Sacraments, in the metropolitan cathedral of S. Pietro of Bologna in the presence of several other prelates, numerous priests and hundreds of faithful. The funeral eulogy was delivered by Archbishop Lercaro of Ravenna. Four bishops from the Emilian region imparted the absolution. The minister of Labor, Leopoldo Rubinacci, represented the Italian government. Buried, according to his will (1), in the crypt of the basilica of Beata Vergine di S. Luca in Colle della Guardia, on the hill overlooking the city of Bologna (2). On June 13, 1953, his sepulchral monument, by sculptor Bruno Boari, was inaugurated. The same artist sculpted a half-bust bronze medallion that was placed in the metropolitan cathedral.
Bibliography. Cassoli, Ivaldo, Sulla cattedra di San Petronio. Il Card. G.Battista Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano, Arcivescovo di Bologna (1872-1952). Bologna : Fotocromo Emiliana, 1975; Meluzzi, Luciano. I vescovi e gli arcivescovi di Bologna. Bologna : Grafica Emiliana, 1975, (Collana storico-ecclesiastica; 3), pp. 574-588; Molinari, Franco. Il cardinale Giovanni Battista Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano, arcivescovo di Bologna (1872-1952). Roma : Corporazione arti grafiche, 1974; L'Osservatore Romano [electronic resource]. Città del Vaticano, XCII, n. 63 (March 14, 1952), p. 2; and L'Osservatore Romano [electronic resource]. Città del Vaticano, XCII, n. 67 (March 19, 1952), p. 2; Weber, Christoph and Becker, Michael. Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. 6 v. Stuttgart : Anton Hiersemann, 1999-2002. (Päpste und Papsttum, Bd. 29, 1-6), VI, 682.
Links. Biography by Giovanni Turbanti, in Italian, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 77 (2012), Treccani; biography, in English, Wikipedia; biography, in Italian, Wikipedia; brief biography, in German, Wikipedia; brief biography, in Polish, Wikipedia; brief biography, in Dutch, Wikipedia; his photograph and arms, Araldica Vaticana; his tomb by Bruno Boari (1952), crypt of the basilica of Beata Vergine di S. Luca, Bologna, Cultura Italia, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; medallion with his effigy by Bruno Boari (1952), metropolitan cathedral of Bologna, Cultura Italia, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; funeral monument by Bruno Boari (1953), metropolitan cathedral of Bologna, Cultura Italia, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; Protezione Antiaerea. Difesa del Cittadino, Difessa della Casa, Sfollamento, ediziobe de l'Avvenire d'Italia, 5 febbraio 1953, Il Card. Nasalli Rocca, You Tube, uploaded by 12portebo on Jan 20, 2012; Card. Giovanni Battista Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano Requiem, Seminario Arcivescovile di Villa Revedin, Bologna; In ricordo di Nasalli Rocca, You Tube, published on Mar 16, 2012 by 12portebo.
(1) According to L'Osservatore Romano, anno XCII, num 67 (27.915), mercoledì 19 Marzo 1952, page the cardinal said in his testament, prepared in 1933:
Desidero essere sepolto nella Basilica di San Luca, presso l'Altare Maggiore, dal lato dell'Epistola, o nella cripta, como meglio credere il mio successore, con una semplice iscrizione: «Ioannes Baptista tit. S. Mariae Traspontinae S.R.E. Presb. Nasalli Rocca de Corneliano Archiepscopum Bononiensium - N. Piacentiae die 27 Aug. MDCCCLXXI. exorat preces fidelium - expectat carnis resurrectionis»
Raccomando a tutti i miei sacerdoti e a tutti i miei figlioli spirituali di questa cara Archidiocesi tre grandi amori: alla Santa Eucarestia, alla cara Madonna, alla Chiesa e al Papa. Voglia il Signore raccoglierci in cielo tutti. Amen.
(2) In the south side of the basilica; first pillar, on the east side thereof, over a confessional box which obscures the lower part of the text of the inscription, there is a memorial tablet with right profile bust of the cardinal by Bruno Boari, 1953; and this inscription, provided by Mr. Mar West, London, England:
Birth. March 26, 1870, Trino Vercellese, archdiocese of Vercelli, Italy. His brother Giuseppe was a canon of the chapter of the patriarchal Liberian basilica; and another brother, Costanzo, was a lawyer.
Education. Studied at the Seminary of Vercelli; at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; at the Pontifical Roman Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome; at Collegio Lombardo, Rome, where he was classmate of Carlo Perosi and Mario Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano, future cardinals; and at the University of Turin, Turin.
Priesthood. Ordained, September 24, 1892, Rome. Further studies, 1892-1894. Vice-rector of the Pontifical Lombard College, Rome, 1894. Faculty member of the Seminary of Vercelli and canon theologian of its cathedral, 1894-1908. Auditor of the Sacred Romon Rota, October 20, 1908. Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, October 18, 1917. Secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals, 1919. Assessor of the S.C. Consistorial, October 12, 1920. Secretary of the conclave of 1922.
Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of May 23, 1923; received the red hat and the deaconry of S. Giorgio in Velabro, May 25, 1923. Papal legate to the solemn translation of the bodies of two saint bishops of Crema, October 4, 1923; to the Plenary Council of Abruzzi, Chieti, May 4, 1924; and to the Plenary Council of Salerno, April 6, 1925. Pro-secretary of the S.C. for the Oriental Church, February 6, 1926; ts secretary, February 3, 1927. Papal legate to the centennial celebrations of Saint-Hubert, Namur, Belgium, May 18, 1927. Opted for the order of cardinal priests and his deaconry was elevated pro illa vice to title, December 17, 1928.
Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Petra di Palestina, January 11, 1929. Consecrated, January 13, 1929, Sistine chapel, at the Vatican, by Pope Pius XI, assisted by Carlo Cremonesi, titular archbishop of Nicomedia, privy almoner of His Holiness, and by Agostino Zampini, O.S.A., titular bishop of Porfireone, sacristan of His Holiness. His episcopal motto was Sincero corde servire Deo. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, June 30, 1930 until March 18, 1933. Papal legate to the centennial celebrations of Saint Emeric, Budapest, Hungary, August 6, 1930. Opted for the order of cardinal bishops and suburbicarian see of Palestrina, March 13, 1933. Papal legate to the Eucharistic Congress of Agrigento, Sicily, Italy, May 1, 1934. President of the Pontifical Commission for the Codification of the Oriental Canon Law, November 23, 1934. President of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, December 12, 1934. President of the Pontifical Commission for the Redaction of the Code of Oriental Canon Law, July 16, 1935.
Death. February 7, 1936, of paralysis, a week after suffering a stroke at his residence in Rome. His funeral mass was celebrated at the basilica of S. Andrea della Valle, Rome. Buried in the cemetery of Trino Vercellese.
Bibliography. Del Re, Niccolò. "Luigi Sincero" in La Sacra Congregazione per le Chiese Orientali. Nel cinquantesimo della fondazione (1917-1967). Grottaferrata, Roma : Tipografia Italo-Orientale "San Nilo", 1969, p. 86-88; Sincero, Luigi. La legge 29 giugno 1906 e gli enti ecclesiastici. Studio giuridico per incarico di s.e. Monsignor Teodoro dei conti Valfrè di Bonzo, Arcivescovo di Vercelli. Torino : Unione tipografico-editrice, 1906; Sincero, Luigi. Prima lettera pastorale di Sua Em. il Card. Luigi Sincero, vescovo della diocesi di Palestrina, segretario della Sacra congregazione orientale. Roma : Tipografia "Madre di Dio," 1933.
Link. His arms and photographs, Araldica Vaticana.
©1998-2014 Salvador Miranda.