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Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, by Sir Thomas Lawrence's (1819).

Ercole Consalvi (June 8, 1757 – January 24, 1824) was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.


He was born in Rome, and died there also. His mother was Claudia Carandini, a noblewoman. He was educated at the seminary founded in Frascati by Henry Benedict, Cardinal Duke of York, "Cardinal York", the Stuart pretender to the throne of Great Britain. He became a favorite of the Cardinal's and was helped by him to obtain high office in the Roman Curia while still a young man.

After the Revolutionary French invaded Italy in 1798, Consalvi was jailed, but he later escaped and joined Pope Pius VII in exile. An able diplomat, he was nominated secretary of the conclave that met in Venice to elect Pope Pius VII, the successor of Pius VI.

Ercole Consalvi was created Cardinal-Deacon in the consistorio secreto of 11 August 1800 and received the red hat in the public consistory of the 14 August 1800. On the 20 October 1800 he was assigned to the diaconate of Sant'Agata in Suburru, and eventually transferred to that of Santa Maria ad Martyres on 28 July 1817.

Pius VII ordained Consalvi to the subdiaconate and to the diaconate in his private chapel on 20 and 21 December 1801.

The new pope named him Cardinal Secretary of State, and in this capacity he negotiated the Concordat of 1801 with Napoleon, which reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church as the established church of France and restored some of its civil status. He also reformed the administration of Rome and to some extent modernized the city.

After the fall of Napoleon, he represented the Pope at the Congress of Vienna and was able to convince the victorious powers to restore the Papal States almost entirely (although the Papacy had been forced to accept the French annexation of Avignon). For the remainder of the pontificate of Pius VII, Consalvi was the virtual ruler of Rome, and his government was characterized by good sense, moderation and concern for the poor. He concluded another Concordat with France in 1817 and retired when Pius died in 1823. Yet he still headed the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith at the time of his death the following year, 1824. Although a consummate diplomat and man of the world, Consalvi was both honest and pious and has been called "one of the purest glories of the Church of Rome" (Schaeffer).

One of the best popes never elected. He secured the Protestant artist Thorwaldsen's right to create the burial monument for pope Pius VII in St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome.

He died in 1824 and was buried in the church of San Marcello al Corso.

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Giulio Doria Pamphilj
Cardinal Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Filippo Casoni
Preceded by
Giulio Gabrielli
Cardinal Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Giulio Maria della Somaglia

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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