Prospero Caterini

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His Eminence, the Most Rev. Lord
Prospero Caterini
Secretary of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Universal and Roman Inquisition
Prospero Caterini.jpg
Prospero Caterini
Church Roman Catholic
Installed 21 December 1876
Term ended 28 October 1881
Predecessor Costantino Patrizi Naro
Successor Antonio Maria Panebianco
Other posts Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria della Scala
Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata
Created Cardinal 7 Mar 1853
by Pope Pius IX
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Born 15 October 1795
Onano, Lazio, Papal States
Died 28 October 1881
Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Buried Chapel of the confraternity of the Most Precious Blood, Campo Verano cemetery, Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Francesco Caterini and Maria Domenica Pacelli

Prospero Caterini (15 October 1795, Onano – 28 October 1881, Rome) was an Italian cardinal.


Prospero Caterini was born in Onano, diocese of Acquapendente[1] in the region of Lazio in what was then the Papal States. His parents were Francesco Caterini and Maria Domenica Pacelli[1] both from noble families. Prospero's paternal aunt, Maria Antonia Caterini was married to another Pacelli, Gaetano Pacelli thus making Prospero Caterini a relative to the Pacelli family on both his mother's and father's sides. Maria Antonia Caterini and Gaetano Pacelli were the parents of Marcantonio Pacelli, who served as minister of finance for Pope Gregory XVI and deputy minister of interior under Pope Pius IX from 1851 to 1870 and also founded the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on July 20, 1860.[2] Years later, Eugenio Pacelli, one of Marcantonio's grandsons was elected to the papacy as Pope Pius XII.

The Caterinis themselves traced their nobility to the Cattanei or Cattaneo family, specifically to Gualdo Cattaneo whose family were the Counts of Aversa in 1520. The name "Caterini" was taken due to the family's devotion to St. Catherine of Alexandria. Those with the surname Caterini later became part of the nobility of Nocera Umbra, Acquapendente and Onano.

Prospero Caterini completed his studies in Rome.[1] No information has been found as to his ordination history.[1] He served as the substitute secretary of the Sacred Congregation Consistorial and was later the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Studies.[1] From March 1, 1841 to November 28, 1845, he was Auditor Santissimi.[1] He was a canon of Saint Peter's Basilica and became an Assessor of the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition.[1]

Pope Pius IX created him a cardinal on March 7, 1853 and three days later on March 10, the new cardinal received the red hat and the title of Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria della Scala.[1] He became Cardinal-Protodeacon on November 6, 1876 upon the death of the incumbent protodeacon Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli. On December 18, 1876, he opted for and received the title of Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata previously held by the late Cardinal Antonelli while retaining in commendam the title to the deaconry of Santa Maria della Scala.[1] On December 21, 1876, he became secretary of the Inquisition.[1]

Prospero Caterini participated as a cardinal-elector in the conclave of 1878.[1] As protodeacon, he announced at the end of the conclave the election of Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci as Pope Leo XIII.[1][a] Due to illness however, he was unable to crown the new pope at his papal coronation,[1] the honor instead went to Cardinal Teodolfo Mertel.[5]

Near Grotte di Castro in the vicinity of Lake Bolsena, Cardinal Caterini had a castle, the Castle of Santa Cristina where the young seminarian Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII would spend his holidays in the company of the Pacelli-Caterini families.

He died on October 28, 1881 and after the wake held at his deaconry, was buried at the chapel of the confraternity of the Most Precious Blood in Campo Verano cemetery in Rome.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard Henry Clarke's book about Leo XIII claims that Prospero Caterini made the announcement of Leo XIII's election[3] and Salvador Miranda's entry on Cardinal Caterini at The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church website mentions Caterini as having given the announcement[1] but Francis Burkle-Young claims that Caterini started to make the announcement but was incapable of completing the formula and was ultimately assisted in delivering the news by Bartolomeo Grassi-Landi, a non-cardinal and the conclavist of Cardinal Luigi Oreglia di Santo Stefano[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Caterini, Prospero". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Salvador Miranda. 
  2. ^ "The Origins of L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Website". 
  3. ^ Richard Henry Clarke. "The life of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII ...: together with extracts from his pastorals and encyclicals". 
  4. ^ Francis A. Burkle-Young. "Papal Elections in the Age of Transition, 1878-1922". 
  5. ^ "The Coronation of Pope Leo XIII". Catholic World Volume 27, Issue 158 pp. 280-285. 


  • Caterini Carlo. Gens Catherina de terra Balii. Edizioni Scientifiche Calabresi.Rende 2009.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Paolo Mangelli Orsi
Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria della Scala
10 March 1853 – 28 October 1881
title held in commendam from 18 December 1876 – 28 October 1881
Succeeded by
Pietro Lasagni
Preceded by
Giacomo Antonelli
Cardinal Protodeacon
6 November 1876–28 October 1881
Succeeded by
Teodolfo Mertel
Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata
18 December 1876 – 28 October 1881
Preceded by
Costantino Patrizi Naro
Secretary of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Universal and Roman Inquisition
21 December 1876 – 28 October 1881
Succeeded by
Antonio Maria Panebianco
Honorary titles
Preceded by
René-François Régnier
Oldest Living Cardinal
January 3, 1881 – October 28, 1881
Succeeded by
Ferdinand-François-Auguste Donnet