Zacchia was born in 1565 at the Castle of Vezzano, the son of Gaspare Zacchia and Veronica de' Nobili, of the signori of Vezzano.
It was not Zacchia's original intention to serve an ecclesiastic life. He originally married Laura Biassa and had a son and a daughter; Felice Zacchia (mother of Cardinal Paolo Emilio Rondinini). However, after his wife died, he left Vezzano and went to Rome to aid his brother, Cardinal Paolo Emilio Zacchia. There he worked in the Roman Curia and later became pro-treasurer of the Apostolic Chamber and later its commissary-general.
During the papacy of Pope Paul V, Zacchia was named vice-legate in Viterbo and vice-legate of the province of the Patrimony. Pope Gregory XV appointed Zacchia as nuncio to Venice for the majority of his papacy.
In 1626, Pope Urban VIII made him a cardinal in the consistory of 19 January 1626 and he was named cardinal-priest at San Sisto Vecchio the following month, then opted for the title of San Pietro in Vincoli in 1629.
Zacchia was one of three cardinals who did not subscribe to the condemnation of Galileo in 1633.
Bid to remove Pope Urban VIII
According to his contemporary John Bargrave, in 1636 members of the Spanish faction of the College of Cardinals were so horrified by the conduct of Pope Urban VIII that they conspired to have him arrested and imprisoned (or killed) so that they could replace him with a new pope; namely Zacchia. When Urban travelled to Castel Gandolfo to rest, the members of the Spanish faction met in secret and discussed ways to progress their plan. But they were discovered and the pope raced back to Rome where he immediately held a consistory and demanded to know who the new pope was. To put an end to the conspiracy, the pope decreed that all cardinal-bishops should leave Rome and return to their own churches.
References and notes
- S. Miranda: Laudivio Zacchia
- Catholic Hierarchy: Laudivio Cardinal Zacchia
- Pope Alexander the Seventh and the College of Cardinals by John Bargrave, edited by James Craigie Robertson (reprint; 2009)
- Note: Bargrave describes Zacchia as the uncle of Paolo Emilio Rondinini when in fact the younger cardinal was his grandson.