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Gregorio Panzani

Bishop of Mileto, d. early in 1662

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Panzani, GREGORIO, Bishop of Mileto, d. early in 1662. He was a secular priest of Arezzo, having left the Congregation of the Oratory on account of ill-health, when in 1634 he was chosen by Cardinal Barberini for the important and delicate task of a secret agency in London. He is described by the writer of his memoirs as a man “of experienced virtue, of singular address, of polite learning and in all respects well qualified for the business”. His commission was to gain first-hand information as to the state of English Catholics, then much divided on the question of the oath of allegiance and the appointment of a vicar Apostolic, to settle the differences that had arisen on these points between the seculars and regulars, and to establish informal relations with the Government. Panzani himself realized that the appointment of a bishop was necessary, and he resented the efforts of the Jesuits to hinder this. Though he was successful in reconciling the seculars with the Benedictines and other religious, the Jesuits were left out of the settlement, and Panzani’s subsequent efforts to bring them in were fruitless. He had repeated interviews with Windebank and Cottington, the secretaries of state, enjoyed the confidence of the queen, and was admitted to secret audience with the king. He was also in communication with the Anglican Bishop of Chichester on the subject of corporate reunion. He was recalled in 1634 when a scheme of reciprocal agency was established between the pope and the king. Returning to Rome he was made a canon of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, and obtained a judicial position in the civil courts. On August 13, 1640, he was elected Bishop of Mileto, in the Province of Catanzaro. An account of his English mission was written in Italian by someone who had access to his papers, and a copy of this was used by Dodd, who, however, thought it imprudent to publish these memoirs in full. But in 1793 the Rev. Joseph Berington published a translation of them with an historical introduction and supplement. Their authenticity was immediately called in question by Father Charles Plowden, S.J. (op. cit. inf.), who regarded them as a forgery by Dodd. The subsequent researches by Tierney, however, conclusively proved that the “Memoirs” were genuine. The original manuscript, then in the possession of Cardinal Gualterio, was purchased by the British Museum in 1854 (Add. MSS. 15389).



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