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Sisto Riario Sforza (5 December 1810 – 29 September 1877) was an Italian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals.[1]



Sforza was born in Naples, Italy and belonged to the noble House of Riario-Sforza. He was the son of Giovanni Antonio Riario Sforza and Maria Gaetana Cattaneo della Volta.

Sforza was a nephew of Cardinal Tommaso Riario Sforza who announced the election of Pope Pius IX and who also held the position of Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals 35 years before his nephew from 1828 to 1830. Other cardinals belonging to his family were Pietro Riario, O.F.M., Raffaele Riario and Alessandro Riario.


Sforza was educated at the Roman Seminary, Rome, the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles, Rome and La Sapienza University, Rome. He obtained a Doctorate in Theology by apostolic brief on April 23, 1845. On January 1, 1825 he received the ecclesiastical habit, followed by the clerical tonsure on February 13, 1825. Minor orders were received on December 25, 1826, subdiaconate on April 21, 1832 and he was ordained a priest on September 1, 1833 by Filippo Giudice Caracciolo who he later replaced as Archbishop of Naples.[2]

Vatican service

He worked for many years as privy chamberlain of the pope and was made abbot commendatario of S. Paolo in Albano and vicar of the cardinal camerlengo in the school of S. Maria in Via Lata Abletgato. He also was canon of the patriarchal Vatican basilica and private secretary of the pope in 1841.

As secretary of memorials, Sforza accompanied Pope Gregory XVI on his trip to Umbria and Rieti in 1842. He contributed to the conversion to Roman-Catholicism of count Otto Magnus von Stackelberg and prince Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin. King Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies proposed him to the pope to occupy the see of the Bishopric of Aversa, which he did on April 24, 1845.

Sforza was made Assistant at the Pontifical Throne on May 17, 1845 and was promoted to the metropolitan see of Naples on November 24, 1845. He was made a cardinal-priest in the consistory of January 19, 1846 with dispensation for having an uncle who was a cardinal. He received the red hat (symbol of a cardinal) and the title church of S. Sabina on April 16, 1846. He participated in the Papal conclave of 1846. [3]


Sforza was forcibly exiled after the collapse of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, September 1860 to July 1861 and 1862 to 1866 and also participated in the First Vatican Council, where he spoke out against the decision to proclaim the Dogma of papal infallibility.[4]

Death and beatification

He died September 29, 1877 in Naples and was exposed and buried in the metropolitan cathedral of Naples.

Pope Leo XIII had said that he would not be elected pope with Cardinal Riario Sforza alive.[4]. Sforza died in 1877 and Leo XIII was elected the following year in 1878.

The informative process for his beatification started in 1927 in Naples and the canonical process in Rome in 1947.


  1. ^ di Domenico, Francesco, La vita del Cardinale Sisto Riari Sforza, Arcivescovo di Napoli, Naples, 1904
  2. ^ Florida International University - Sisto Riario Sforza
  3. ^ Ritzler, Remigium, & 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. 35, 44, 100 and 278
  4. ^ a b Biography website (Italian )
  • Zigarelli, Daniello Maria, Biografie dei vescovi e arcivescovi della chiesa di Napoli con una descrizione del clero, della cattedrale, della basilica di s. Restituta e della cappella del tesoro di s. Gennaro, Napoli, Tipografico di G. Gioja, 1861, pp. 289-320.

See also

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Filippo Giudice Caracciolo
Archbishop of Naples
Succeeded by
Guglielmo Sanfelice d'Acquavilla
Preceded by
Domenico Carafa di Traetto
Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Succeeded by
Camillo di Pietro


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