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Carafa was born in Andria (Italy), of the family of the Counts of Montorio, and a relative of Pope Paul IV. He entered the Society of Jesus on 4 October 1604, and was sixty years of age at his election as general. He died four years after.
He had taught philosophy and governed the principal house of the Society at Naples, and was provincial at the time of the election to the generalship. In 1635 he had published his Fascetto di Mirra (Bundle of Myrrh), which has been translated into several languages. He is the author of several other ascetical works, such as Cammino del Cielo, Cittadino del Cielo, Il Peregrino della terra, Idea Christiani hominis, and Il Serafino, all previous to his election. He wrote under the name Aloysius Sidereus.
Besides personal correspondence his only known writing as Superior General was his letter addressed to all Jesuits: De mediis conservandi primævum spiritum Societatis (The means of preserving the primitive spirit of the Society).
In 1648 Carafa called the forty-year old letterato Daniello Bartoli from his itinerant activities as a preacher around Italy to the Casa Professa (Rome) and a permanent position there as the official historian of the Jesuit order. The folio volumes of his Istoria della Compagnia di Gesù began to appear in 1650. Bartoli soon after Carafa's death in 1649 wrote and published the biography of the Neapolitan general. It includes the 1646 episode of Bartoli's shipwreck in a storm off Capri and his recuperation in Naples.
His short term in office coincided with the beginning of the controversy with Jansenist theologians and the troubles with Palafox, Bishop of La Puebla. A great scandal occurred in Spain because of unsuccessful business speculations by a coadjutor brother, and in France on account of the open apostasy to Calvinism of a priest; but the martyrdom of men like Isaac Jogues, Brébeuf, Neville, and others in Canada and England was an assurance that the Society's ancient fervour had not relaxed.
According to St Louis de Montfort in True Devotion to Mary, Carafa would wear an iron band around his feet as a mark of his servitude to Jesus.
- Della Vita del p. Vincenzo Carafa, Settimo Generale della Compagnia di Gesù (Rome, 1651) pp. 77-78. 
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Vincent Caraffa". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
|Superior General of the Society of Jesus
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