Paolo Burali d'Arezzo

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Paolo Burali d'Arezzo
Archbishop of Naples
Paolo Burali.jpg
Paolo Burali d'Arezzo
Archdiocese Naples
See Naples
Appointed 19 September 1576
Term ended 17 June 1578
Predecessor Mario Carafa
Successor Annibale de Capua
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Santa Pudenziana
Ordination 26 March 1558
Consecration 1 August 1568
by Scipione Rebiba
Created Cardinal 17 May 1570
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born 1511
Died 17 June 1578(1578-06-17) (aged 67)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
Title as Saint Blessed
Beatified 18 June 1772
by Pope Clement XIV

Blessed Paolo Burali d'Arezzo (1511 – June 17, 1578) was an Italian Theatine, bishop and cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was beatified in 1772,


Born Scipione Burali d’Arezzo in Itri, he was the second son of Paolo Burali d’Arezzo and his wife Vittoria Olivares.[1] Paolo was a petty bureaucrat, who was for a time in the service of King Ferdinand the Catholic, performed some diplomatic duties for Pope Clement VII, and was later a member of the entourage of Prospero Colonna, the Count of Fondi. When his wife died, Paolo became a priest. He subsequently became a chamberlain to Pope Clement VII, and served on diplomatic missions to the Emperor Charles V, the King of France, and Duke Francesco Sforza of Milan.

When Scipione was 13 he entered the University of Salerno, and later studied law at Bologna, where he was a star pupil of Ugo Buoncompagni. For about a decade Scipione worked as a lawyer in Naples, earning the nickname “Principe del foro napolitano – Prince of Neapolitan Rights,” for his devotion to championing the people against their Spanish overlords, while acquiring a reputation for his legal knowledge, professionalism, and honesty. In 1548 he was named a member of the Royal Council, the principal advisory body to the viceroy, Pedro de Toledo. Scipione undertook many important tasks in this connection, defining the legal relationship between the crown and the nobles, clarifying the rights of the king and those of the pope within the kingdom, and so forth. In 1555 he so impressed Pope Paul IV that he was offered a job at the papal court. Scipione accepted, while at the same time he served as a high official in the civil administration of the Neapolitan army. Not yet 44 years old, he had already attained a considerable measure of success and wealth. But Scipione apparently found that his worldly accomplishments were not spiritually rewarding. He became increasingly religious as the years went by, adopting an austere live-style. This process culminated on January 25, 1557, when Scipione entered the Theatines, the most intellectually demanding of all Catholic orders, adopting the name Paolo Burali d’Arezzo.

Having become a priest, Paolo spent many years working on commissions charged with revising the education and discipline of the clergy, serving on diplomatic missions for the Holy See, attending the Council of Trent, at which he played an important role, and as head of the principal Teatine house in Rome. Perhaps his most important accomplishment was in helping to prevent the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition in Naples, a matter about which the Neapolitans were very adamant. Neapolitan feelings about the Spanish Inquisition were so strong that a baronial rebellion in 1547 liberated hundreds of people from inquisititorial prisons.[2]

The obvious popular hostility, combined with persuasive arguments by Paolo and other opponents of the “Holy Office,” led to the Crown backing down, at least for the time being. Over the years he was offered several bishoprics, but had humbly refused them al. Finally, in 1568, when Pope Pius V – later canonized – forced Paolo to accept the See of Piacenza “on penalty of mortal sin.” The pope went on to make Paolo a cardinal on May 15, 1570, over the objections of the Spanish government. When Pius V died in 1572, Paolo was considered a leading candidate for papacy. Although his cause was championed by Carlo Borromeo, later canonized, and many others, the consistory elected Ugo Buonacompagni, Paolo’s former Professor of Jurisprudence. Taking the name Gregory XIII, the new pope made Paolo Archbishop of Naples in 1576, again over Spanish objections.

As Archbishop of Naples, Paolo implemented numerous reforms, ensuring compliance with the decisions of the Council of Trent, while continuing to clash with the Spanish authorities over the Inquisition and other matters. A distinguished scholar,[3] as well as a notable clergyman, Paolo died June 17, 1578 at the age of 67, with much of his work unfinished, a “mournful loss for all Christendom” in the words of St. Filippo Neri. In life an acquaintance of the later Saints Carlo Borromeo, Andrea Avellino, and Roberto Bellarmino, on the tenth anniversary of his death Paolo was elevated to the status of Venerable, and in 1772 he was beatified by Clement XIV. His application for sainthood in still pending.


  1. ^ Zingarelli, pp. 134-145 the only easily accedssible biography of Paolo
  2. ^ Angel de Saavedra, La sublevacion de Napoles capitanada por Masaniello (Madrid: Viuda de Hernandez y Cava, 1888), pp. 11ff. There had already been disorders related to attempts to impose the Spanish Inquisition in Naples in 1503; cf., Galasso, Periferia, p. 114. Other attempts to impose the Spanish Inquisition on Naples took place in 1509, 1524, 1547, and 1564; cf., Richard Bonny, The European Dynastic State, 1494-1660 (New York: Oxford University Place, 1991), p. 66.
  3. ^ For a bibliography of his writings see “Lineamenti per una bibliografia del beato Paolo Burali d'Arezzo”, in Il seminario di Piacenza e il suo fondatore, a cura di F. Molinari (Piacenza 1969), pp. 471-477