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Vatican newspaper recalls Cardinal Rampolla, vetoed in 1903 conclave

December 16, 2013

On the occasion of the centenary of his death, L’Osservatore Romano has recalled the figure of Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (1843-1913), whom the newspaper described as the “true helmsman” of the Church during the last years of the pontificate of Leo XIII (1878-1903).

Cardinal Rampolla’s ecclesiastical career included service as apostolic nuncio to Spain (1882-87), Secretary of State (1887-1903), archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica (1894-1913), president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (1902-08), Secretary of the Congregation of the Holy Office (1908-13), and Vatican Librarian (1912-13).

Citing the Italian historian Gianpaolo Romanato, the newspaper recounted the intrigue surrounding the 1903 conclave that elected St. Pius X to the papacy. France, said Romanato, pushed for the election of Cardinal Rampolla, while the powers of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) opposed him. The Austro-Hungarian emperor vetoed his potential election through the cardinal archbishop of Krakow.

“The torpedo against Rampolla had departed from Vienna,” says Romanato. “But who had armed the torpedo?” The Italian government and the Poles, the historian believes, are two possibilities.


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  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Dec. 17, 2013 8:11 AM ET USA

    For all the machinations of various political entities, one is struck by the obvious influence of the Holy Spirit in electing Cardinal Sarto. Interesting historical intrigue and well worth further reading and research.