Birth. October 10, 1865, Spanish embassy in London, archdiocese of Westminster, England. Son of Rafael Merry del Val, Spanish diplomat, and Josefina de Zulueta. Of a Spanish family that resided in England until 1878.
Education. Initial studies, Bayliss House, Slough; Jesuit School Notre Dame de Namur, Belgium; College of Saint-Michele, Brussels; College of St. Cuthbert, Ushaw, Durham, 1883; Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles, Rome, 1885; Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (doctorate in philosophy, 1886; doctorate in theology, 1891; licentiate in canon law, 1891 (1)). Privy chamberlain supernumerary, June 8, 1887. Member of the papal delegation to the celebration of the golden jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, June 1887. Received the diaconate on May 27, 1888, church of the Daughters of S. Anna, Rome, from Cardinal Lucido Maria Parocchi, vicar general of Rome.
Priesthood. Ordained, December 30, 1888, church of the Daughters of S. Anna, Rome, by Cardinal Lucido Maria Parocchi, vicar general of Rome. Secretary of Archbishop Luigi Galimberti in the nunciatures in Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1888-1889. Further studies, 1889-1891. Privy chamberlain de numero participantium, December 31, 1891. Member of the pontifical family, 1891-1898. Returned to the pontifical mission in Vienna, 1893. Secretary of Pontifical Commission to study validity of the Anglican ordinations, 1896; participated in the redaction of the bull Apostolicæ curæ. Apostolic delegate to Canada, March 10, 1897 until July 1898, to solve the question of the schools of Manitoba (2); he left Rome March 15, 1897, embarked in Liverpool on the 20th and arrived in Québec on March 30; he remained there for a short time, and then stopped in Trois-Rivières and in Montréal; he established himself in Ottawa, making a short visit to Winnipeg from June 3 to 17, 1897. He met the French-speaking bishops in Montréal on April 8; and the Ontarian bishops on May 11 in Toronto (3). Domestic prelate of His Holiness, March 13, 1897. Consultor of the S.C. of the Index from 1898. President of Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, October 21, 1899 to 1903.Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Nicea, April 19, 1900. Consecrated, May 6, 1900, church of S. Maria in via Monserrato, Rome, by Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro, secretary of State, assisted by Edmond Stonor, titular archbishop of Trebisonda, and by Guglielmo Pifferi, O.S.A., titular bishop of Porfireone, papal sacristan. Papal representative to the coronation of King Edward VII of England, 1901. Provisional secretary of the S.C. Consistorial, July 21, 1903. Secretary of conclave of 1903. Pro-secretary of State, August 4, 1903 until November 12, 1903.
Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of November 9, 1903; received the red hat and the title of S. Prassede, November 12, 1903 (4). Named secretary of State, prefect of the S.C. of Loreto, and prefect of Apostolic Palace, November 12, 1903; occupied the Secretariat of State until August 20, 1914. President of the Pontifical Commission for Administration of Wealth of Holy See, 1904. Decorated with the grand cross of the Austrian Order of Sankt Stefan, 1907. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, November 27, 1911 to December 2, 1912. Archpriest of the patriarchal Vatican basilica and prefect of the S.C. of the Fabric of Saint Peter's basilica, January 12, 1914. Participated in conclave of 1914, which elected Pope Benedict XV. Prefect of the Supreme S.C. of the Holy Office, October 14, 1914 until his death. President of the Academy of the Catholic Religion, Rome, December 7, 1915. Papal legate to the Catechetical Congress, Umbria, 1920. Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals, December 16, 1920 to December 11, 1922. Participated in the conclave of 1922, which elected Pope Pius XI. Papal legate to the 7th centennial celebration of the death of Saint Francis, Assisi, September 25, 1926. Protector of the Venerable English College, Rome, May 6, 1929. He was a noted composer of music, both choral and instrumental, as well as an avid sportsman; even his ecclesiastical critics - and there were many - admitted that while he was frustratingly zealous in his political intrigues, especially during the pontificate of Pope Pius X, he was also a personal ascetic who regularly recited a “litany of humility” of his own composition, wore a penitential cilice, and was given to self-flagellation.
Death. February 26, 1930, after an appendicitis attack, Vatican City. The funeral took place in the patriarchal Vatican basilica on March 3, 1930. Buried in the grotto of the same basilica. On July 31, 1931, a new tomb, gift of the Spanish government, was dedicated by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, secretary of State (5).
Beatification. The process for his beatification was opened on February 26, 1953.
Bibliography. Buehrle, Marie-Cecilia. Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val. London : Sands and Co., 1957; Cenci, Pio. Il Cardinale Raffaele Merry del Va. Rome : Roberto Berrutti, 1933; Dal Gal, Girolamo. Il cardinale Merry del Val, segretario di Stato del Beato Pio X. Roma : Edizioni Paoline ,1953; Dal Gal, Girolamo. The spiritual life of Cardinal Merry del Val. Translated by Joseph A. McMullin. New York : Benziger Brothers, 1959; Dalpiaz, Vigilio. Attraverso una porpora. Il cardinale Merry del Val. Torino : R. Berruti, 1935; Echeverría, Lamberto de. Episcopologio español contemporáneo, 1868-1985 : datos biográficos y genealogía espiritual de los 585 obispos nacidos o consagrados en España entre el 1 de enero de 1868 y el 31 de diciembre de 1985 . Salamanca : Universidad de Salamanca, 1986. (Acta Salmanticensia; Derecho; 45), p. 64; Figueroa Ortega, Rafael. Una gloria de la iglesia, el Cardenal Rafael Merry del Val. Con un prólogo de Pio Cenci. Puebla, México : La Enseñanza, 1937; Einsiedeln, Benziger & Co. 1937; Forbes, Frances Alice. Rafael, Cardinal Merry del Val : a character sketch. London ; New York : Longmans, Green and Co., 1932; Javierre, José M. Merry del Val. Barcelona : Juan Flors, 1956; LeBlanc, Jean. Dictionnaire biographique des évêques catholiques du Canada. les diocèses catholiques canadiens des Églises latine et orientales et leurs évêques; repères chronologiques et biographiques, 1658-2002. Ottawa : Wilson & Lafleur, 2002. (Gratianus. Série instruments de recherche), pp. 242-245; Merry del Val, Raphael. The spiritual diary of Raphael Cardinal Merry del Val. New York : Exposition Press, 1964; Merry del Val, Raphael. The truth of papal claims : a reply to The validity of papal claims by F. Nutcombe Oxenham. St. Louis, MO : B. Herder, 1902; Mitchell, Hary. Le cardinal R. Merry del Val : Secretaire d'Etat de Saint Pie X. Paris : Paris-Livres, 1956; Pięta, Zenonem. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Volumen IX (1903-1922). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 2002, pp. 8, 24 and 29; Quinn, Mary Bernetta. Give me souls; a life of Raphael Cardinal Merry del Val. Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1958; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi. Volumen VIII (1846-1903). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1979, p. 411; Torre, Giuseppe dalla. The Cardinal of charity : memorial discourse on the work and virtues of the late Cardinal Raphael Merry del Val. New York : Paulist Press, 1932.
Webgraphy. Biography by Antonio Garnica Silva, in Spanish, Diccionario Biográfico Español, DB~e; Biography by Johannes Grohe, in German, Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon; his photo in Canada, third on page, Peel Digital Library; photographs, portrait and arms, Araldica Vaticana; his photograph, Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, Canada; A Profile of Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, Secretary of State of Pius X by Gianpaolo Romanato, in Italian, CatholicCulture.org; Le parcours curial du cardinal Rafael Merry del Val by Philippe Roy-Lysencourt, in French, Mélanges de l'École française de Rome - Italie et Méditerranée modernes et contemporaines, 128-1 | 2016.
(1) LeBlanc, Dictionnaire bigraphique des évêques catholiques du Canada, p. 242, indicates that he obtained the doctorate at the Gregorian University, Rome, but Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi, VIII, 411, says that he obtained it at the University of Ottawa, Canada, to which Fr. Leblanc adds that the degree was honoris cause.
(2) According to LeBlanc, Dictionnaire bigraphique des évêques catholiques du Canada, p. 243, the Manitobaine laws of 1870 removed the school rights of the Catholic minority and abrogated the official status of French. In 1896, the federal government, directed by the Conservative Sir Charles Tupper, had been prevented, because of the systematic obstruction of the Liberal party, from adopting the law répatratrice, and had to call elections. They were won, on June 23, in spite of the intervention of the bishops Québécois, by the Liberals of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who concluded, in November, the agreement called Laurier-Greenway, with the government of Manitoba. The agreement, while not restoring separate schools, authorized religious and bilingual teaching under restrictive conditions, but the nationalists were not satisfied and caused a division within the Church and, at the request of the federal government, an apostolic delegate was sent. The federal government specified its preference to the S.C. for the Propagation of the Faith: an emissary of English culture who spoke French and knew the British institutions.
(3) According to LeBlanc, Dictionnaire bigraphique des évêques catholiques du Canada pp. 243-244, his nomination strongly displeased the Québécois episcopate, which saw in it a lack of confidence on the part of the Holy See. The Canadian-French bishops received him rather coldly and were far from eager to collaborate with him. The prospects for the two sides to reconcile were not very good. The delegate, imbued of the hope (and of the illusion) prevalent in the Roman Curia at the time, hoped to bring back the Anglo-Saxon world into the flock of the church; he judged that it was better to prevent raising protests of fanaticism and sacrificing a small minority of French language than run the risk of reprisals against the Catholic minorities in Ontario and in les Maritime, which were of English language. He believed that the problem was not about a conflict between two political parties, but between Catholics and Protestants; that the attitude of the Conservative Party had been hypocritical, electoralist and more guilty that the Liberal Party, leaving the problem to the courts, and being slow in adopting a reparation law. The bishops for their part, thought that the delegate was too reconciling and that he had been deceived by promises, which were to confirm the future, because no legislative measurement was introduced, but only administrative arrangements, and the temporary solution of Laurier would become permanent. They estimated that the delegate understood the historical context very badly, defended the constitutional rights, and argued that to yield on this question would possibly produce the disappearance of the rights of the minorities in North and the West, which indeed was carried out. Presented by the most radical as anglophile and even hostile to the French culture, even if he spoke French as well as English and Italian, he was completely surrounded by the Irish bishops and the governmental mediums, met First Minister Laurier, was received by Governor General Lord Aberdeen, was celebrated by the liberal government of Ontario, and concluded that the adversaries of the agreement Greenway-Laurier (Msgr. Langevin and the majority of the bishops Québécois) were too close to the Conservative Party and lacked political direction. The Vatican, by the encyclical Affari vos of December 8, 1897, disapproved the agreement as imperfect because it promoted the neutral schools, while recommending to the Catholics to accept these partial satisfactions. The Canadian-French bishops had finally to subject themselves. The majority of the historians recognize that the mission of Msgr. Merry del Val paved the way for the establishment of a permanent delegation in Canada, which he recommended as the best means of uniting the episcopate and of establishing harmonious relationships with the civil authorities.
(4) Some sources indicate that he received the red hat on November 11, 1903.
(5) He had written "On my tomb is to be only my name and the words 'Da Mihi Animas Coetera Tolle', the aspiration of my entire life". According to his wishes, his sarcophagus has the following simple text :
Birth. November 4, 1841, Venice, Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia (Austria). From a well off family belonging to the small Venetian aristocracy. Son of Pietro Callegari and Angela Cescutt, who was a deeply devout woman and influenced greatly the young Giuseppe. Received the sacrament of confirmation, November 23, 1851.
Education. Studied at the Patriarchal Seminary of Venice. Received the insignias of the clerical character on December 18, 1858; the minor orders on March 3, 1860 and March 16, 1861; the subdiaconate on December 20, 1862; and the diaconate on December 19, 1863.
Priesthood. Ordained on March 26, 1864, in Venice. At the Patriarchal Seminary of Venice, he was professor of its gymnasii; and professor of moral theology, 1865-1873. Pastoral ministry in Venice, 1865-1880. Counselor of the ecclesiastical tribunal, 1878; prosynodal examiner. Contributing writer to Il Veneto Cattolico. He was a very close friend of Giuseppe Sarto, future Pope Pius X.
Episcopate. Elected bishop of Treviso, with dispensation for not having the degree, February 28, 1880. Granted permission to receive the episcopal consecration in Venice from its patriarch, March 11, 1880. Consecrated, March, 1880, cathedral basilica of S. Marco, Venice, by Domenico Agostini, patriarch of Venice, assisted by Giovanni Berengo, bishop of Mantua, and by Giuseppe Apollonio, bishop of Adria. Assistant to Pontifical Throne, August 24, 1882. Transferred to see of Padua, retaining the administration of Treviso until the appointment of a successor, September 25, 1882. In 1892 declined the patriarchal see of Venice and recommended Giuseppe Sarto, bishop of Mantua, for that see. President of Società Scientifica dei Cattolici Italiani.
Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of November 9, 1903; received the red hat and the title of S. Maria in Cosmedin, deaconry elevated pro illa vice to title, November 12, 1903.
Death. April 14, 1906, after a long illness, Padua. Exposed in the cathedral of Padua and buried in the bishops' neo-Gothic chapel of the Cemetery dell'Arcella, Padua, where S. Antonio di Padua died (1). When the chapel was destroyed together with most of the cemetery during the Second World War, his remains, once retrieved, were moved to the cathedral basilica of Santa Maria Assunta in the same city and reburied in its crypt.
Bibliography. "Cardinali defunti." Annuario pontificio per l'anno 1914. Città del Vaticano : Tipografia poliglotta vaticana, 1913, p. 59; "Ém. card. Callegari (Giuseppe), év. de Padoue." in "Nécrologie", Annuaire Pontifical Catholique de 1907. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1907, p. 645-646; Pięta, Zenonem. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen IX (1903-1922). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 2002, pp. 8 and 26; Ritzler, Remigium, and Pirminum Sefrin. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen VIII (1846-1903). Patavii : Typis et Sumptibus Domus Editorialis "Il Messaggero di S. Antonio" apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1979, pp. 444 and 538; Toniolo, Giuseppe. "Il Cardinal Giuseppe Callegari e gli studi in Italia." Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, XLl (1906), 3-12.
Webgraphy. Photographs and arms, Araldica Vaticana.
(1) An electronic message from a priest of the diocese of Padua indicated that he is buried in the crypt of the cathedral of Padua.
©1998-2023 Salvador Miranda.