Scipione Rebiba

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Scipione Rebiba
Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina
Card REBIBA.jpg
Appointed 5 May 1574
Term ended 23 July 1577
Predecessor Giovanni Ricci
Successor Giacomo Savelli
Consecration 14 May 1541
Created Cardinal 20 December 1555
Rank Cardinal-Bishop
Personal details
Birth name Scipione Rebiba
Born (1504-02-03)3 February 1504
San Marco d’Alunzio
Died 23 July 1577(1577-07-23) (aged 73)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
  • Auxiliary Bishop of Chieti (1541 – 1551)
  • Titular Bishop of Amyclae (1541 – 1551)
  • Bishop of Mottola (1551 – 1556)
  • Cardinal-Priest of S. Pudenziana (1556 – 1565)
  • Archbishop of Pisa (1556 – 1560)
  • Archbishop of Troia (1560)
  • Cardinal-Priest of S. Anastasia (1565 – 1566)
  • Titular Patriarch of Constantinople (1565 – 1573)
  • Cardinal-Priest of S. Angelo in Pescheria (1566 – 1570)
  • Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere (1570 – 1573)
  • Cardinal-Bishop of Albano (1573 – 1574)

Scipione Rebiba (3 February 1504 – 23 July 1577) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

He is of particular significance as more than 95% of all living Catholic bishops can trace their episcopal lineage back to him.


Scipione Rebiba was born in San Marco d'Alunzio, in Sicily.

He was elected on 16 March 1541 and, in the same year, appointed titular Bishop of Amyclae and Auxiliary of Archbishop Gian Pietro Carafa of Chieti, the future Pope Paul IV, who created him a cardinal during the consistory of 20 December 1555.[1][2]

Rebiba was appointed Archbishop of Pisa on 13 April 1556 and took possession of that metropolitan see on 29 April 1556, through a procurator.[2]

In the consistory of 9 April 1556, just before he was appointed Archbishop of Pisa, Rebiba was named legate before King Philip II in Brussels to congratulate him for the short-lived Treaty of Vaucelles with King Henry II of France. He received the legatine cross on 11 May 1556 and left Rome for Brussels on 30 May 1556. However, while he was traveling, relations with Spain worsened and the legation was revoked. He returned to Rome in September 1556, after Philip II decided to declare war against Pope Paul IV and start occupying Papal States territory, which, according to Philip II, was for the benefit of the Church.

In a letter from Francisco de Vargas to the Princess Dowager of Portugal, Regent of Spain, dated 22 September 1556, it is written:

"I have reported to your Highness what has been happening here, and how far the Pope is going in his fury and vain imaginings. His Majesty could not do otherwise than have a care for his reputation and dominions. I am sure your Highness will have had more recent news from the Duke of Alva, who has taken the field with an excellent army and has penetrated so far into the Pope's territory that his cavalry is raiding up to ten miles from Rome, where there is such panic that the population would have run away had not the gates been closed. The Pope has fallen ill with rage, and was struggling with a fever on the 16th of this month. The two Carafa brothers, the Cardinal and Count Montorio, do not agree, and they and Piero Strozzi are not on as good terms as they were in the past. They would like to discuss peace. The best thing would be for the Pope to die, for he is the poison at the root of all this trouble and more which may occur. His Majesty's intention is only to wrest the knife from this madman's hand and make him return to a sense of his dignity, acting like the protector of the Apostolic See, in whose name, and that of the College of Cardinals, his Majesty has publicly proclaimed that he has seized all he is occupying. The Pope is now sending again to the potentates of Italy for help. I hope he will gain as little thereby as he has done in the past, and that the French will calm down. May God give us peace in the end, as their Majesties desire and deserve!"[3]

Along with six other cardinals, Rebiba was named one of seven members of a commission charged with preparing a peace agreement. The efforts were later abandoned and the war continued. On 27 August 1557, Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba and Viceroy of Naples, was at the walls of Rome, ready to lead his troops for a final assault. On 13 September 1557, Cardinal Carlo Carafa signed a peace agreement, accepting all of the duke's conditions.[2]

Rebiba was appointed Bishop of Albano in 1573 and Bishop of Sabina e Poggio Mirteto in 1574.[4]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Seal of Cardinal Scipione Rebiba, ca. 1556.

In the early 18th century, Pope Benedict XIII, whose holy orders were descended from Rebiba, personally consecrated at least 139 bishops for various important European sees, including German, French, English and New World bishops. These bishops in turn consecrated bishops almost exclusively for their respective countries, causing other episcopal lineages to die off.

Today, more than 95% of the New World's and more than 5,200 Catholic bishops alive today, including Pope Francis,[5] trace their episcopal lineage back to Rebiba.[6] However, no one is sure who consecrated him because no supporting documentation has been found. Therefore, the episcopal genealogies stop at Rebiba.[7]


  1. ^ A ring that passes from hand to hand. L'Osservatore Romano. Published: 19 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Salvador Miranda (2010). "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church". Florida International University. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  3. ^ Royall Tyler (editor) (1954). "Spain: September 1556". Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13: 1554–1558. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Scipione Cardinal Rebiba [Catholic-Hierarchy]
  5. ^ "Pope Francis". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Bransom, Charles. "Ordinations of U. S. Catholic Bishops, 1790–1989". United States Catholic Conference, 1990. ISBN 978-1-55586-323-4
  7. ^ Bransom, Charles. "Apostolic Succession in the Roman Catholic Church".  Archived: 24 September 2014.


B. Rinaudo, Il cardinale Scipione Rebiba (1504–1577). Vita e azione pastorale di un vescovo riformatore, L'Ascesa, Patti 2007. ISBN 978-88-903039-0-6.

External links[edit]