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Cajetan Bedini

Italian cardinal and diplomat (1806-1864)

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Bedini, CAJETAN, Italian Cardinal and diplomat, b. at Sinigaglia, Italy, May 15, 1806; d. at Viterbo, September 6, 1864. He was appointed in 1849, by Pope Pius IX, Commissary Extraordinary at Bologna, one of the four Papal Provinces then recently in revolt and in which the Government of the Holy See was being maintained with the aid of the military power of Austria. He retired from this office in 1852 and after serving in various diplomatic posts was promoted to be titular Archbishop of Thebes. In 1853, upon his appointment as Apostolic Nuncio to the Court of Brazil, he was commissioned by the Holy Father to visit the United States to examine into the state of ecclesiastical affairs and, incidentally, to call on the President and present to him the compliments and good wishes of the pope. Arriving in New York in June, 1853, he at once visited Washington and called upon President Franklin Pierce, by whom he was received with great courtesy and to whom he presented an autograph letter of the Holy Father. This visit, purely one of courtesy, was afterwards distorted into an attempt to gain official recognition of himself as the diplomatic representative of the pope in the United States. His arrival in this country was the signal for a series of anti-Catholic demonstrations against him lasting throughout his tour. In New York the colony of Italian revolutionists who had fled to this country, urged on by the apostate priest Gavazzi, and aided by the now-nothing element, held a mass meeting and denounced the nuncio. A plot to assassinate him was formed, but was defeated through a warning given by one of the conspirators, Sassi, who himself was stabbed to death by one of his associates in New York City a day or two after.

Monsignor Bedini travelled extensively throughout the country and participated in many public religious ceremonies. In many of the larger cities, notably Pittsburg, Louisville, and Cincinnati, his visit excited hostile comment and demonstration, chiefly by the adherents of Know-nothingism, which was then rampant. In Cincinnati, particularly, this element, cooperating with some German infidel revolutionary exiles, plotted to do violence to him and to attack the cathedral where he was to officiate, but this design was frustrated by the vigilance of the city authorities, not, however, without bloodshed and rioting in which a number of the rioters lost their lives. He remained in this country until January, 1854, when he returned to Rome. So apprehensive of personal violence had he become, that when about to depart from New York, he left the city secretly and journeyed to Staten Island, five miles distant, where a tug carried him to the outgoing steamer. Later, he was elevated to the rank of cardinal and received the appointment to the See of Viterbo and Toscanella.


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