Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Statesman and cardinal, born at Bologna, 29 May, 1733; died at Paris, 27 July, 1810. His parents were Count Francesco Raimondo Montecuccoli and Countess Maria Vittoria Caprara; it was from his mother that he took his name. Having entered the ecclesiastical state, he was appointed in 1758 vice-legate of Ravenna, in 1767 nuncio at Cologne, in 1775 at Lucerne, and in 1785 at Vienna, In this last and most important position he did not always defend with sufficient courage the interests of the Church against the aggressions of the Emperor Joseph II (1765-90), and the imperial ministers Prince Kaunitz and Count Cobenzl. During the summer of 1792 he was made Cardinal-Priest of the Title of Sant' Onofrio, and in August, 1800, Bishop of Jesi in the Mark of Ancona. When the Concordat between Pius VII (1800-23) and the French Republic was concluded (July, 1801), Napoleon Bonaparte , then First Consul, asked for the appointment of a papal legate with residence in Paris. His choice fell upon Cardinal Caprara, undoubtedly because he expected in this way little or no opposition to his plans; Caprara was appointed legate a latere for France in August, 1801; he departed at once for his destination and arrived in Paris on the 4th of October. During the negotiations which followed concerning the execution of the Concordat he displayed too conciliatory a spirit in dealing with the ten constitutional bishops who were to be appointed to as many of the newly-established dioceses ; in fact, he went contrary to specific instructions from Rome. However, persistent pressure exerted by Napoleon may be taken as an excuse for the legate's conduct. Cardinal Caprara officiated at the Solemn restoration of public worship in the cathedral of Notre-Dame on Easter Day (18 April, 1802), at which function the First Consul, the high officers of state, and the new ecclesiastical dignitaries assisted. At times the cardinal legate showed more strength in the interest of the Church ; thus, in a letter written 18 August, 1803, he protested most energetically against the Organic Articles added to the Concordat by the French Government.

In May, 1802, Shortly after the above-mentioned solemnities, he was appointed Archbishop of Milan, and as such he blessed, on the 26th of May, 1805, the Iron Crown, which Napoleon placed on his own head in his new dignity of King of Italy. Otherwise Caprara retained his position as papal legate in France until his death, or rather until the imprisonment of Pope Pius VII in July, 1809. His declining health saved him from the embarrassment connected with the divorce and second marriage of Napoleon (April, 1810). In his last will his entire fortune was left to the hospital of Milan. In memory of all that was done in behalf of France he published the "Concordat et recueil des bulles et brefs de N. S. Pie VII. sur les affaires de l'Eglise de France" (Paris, 1802). Cardinal Caprara was a man of simple and pure habits, zealous for religion and very charitable, but often inclined to yield to the imperious will of princes and ministers, a weakness which at times justified the reproaches of Pius VI (1775-99) and Pius VII.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 22nd, 2016 Image

St. Pope John Paul II
October 22: Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his ... Read More