Epistolae. In Manuscript. Cardinal Domenico Riviera.
Epistolae. In Manuscript.
Dedication Copy from the Director of the Vatican Secret Archive to Cardinal Riviera

Epistolae. In Manuscript.

(Rome): ca. 1744. Item #752

4to.  280 x 200 mm., (11 x 8 inches).  [2] ff. title & introduction, [11] pp. index, 176 ff.  Manuscript letters in secretarial hand, on ruled paper.  Bound in contemporary red calf, with the coat-of-arms of the Riviera family in gilt on upper board.  Very good copy. 


 Series of 217 manuscript letters written by Cardinal Domenico Riviera (1671-1752), from the years of 1711 – 1716, while he was Secretary for the Consistorial Congregation of the College of Cardinals and the Congregation of the Sacred See, under the Pontificate of Clement XI.  The letter were  copied from the originals in 1744 by Fillippo Antonio Ronconi, Head of the Vatican Secret Archive during the decade of the 1740’s.  This copy was given to Riviera by Ronconi. 


 Cardinal Domenico Riviera (1671-1752) of Aquila, studied at Bologna and took a Doctorate in Theology at Urbino.  In the first decade of the 18th century he moved to Rome and began his career as a diplomat for the Vatican, which is reflected in the letters contained in this volume.  Most of the letters are addressed to bishops or other ecclesiastical principals throughout Europe including correspondence with Paris, Dortmund, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Reims, Aachen, Tarragona, and Cologne.  Additional letter were addressed to colleagues as far away as Albania, Russia, and Turkey.  The subject of the letters is pertinent to the role that Riviera had at the time, that is, Secretary of the Consistorial Congregation, namely the Roman magistracy which presided over all episcopal activities, including the construction of buildings and the administration of goods.


The preface which precedes the index, clarifies that copies of these letters were requested by Riviera and chosen mainly for their doctrinal value and for the clarity of Latin prose. Mostly the letters written offer a connection and sometimes a sense of understanding offered to far away bishops and other officials who find themselves in marginal or critical positions with respect to the Vatican authority. In these letters of encouragement, we witness the Papacy’s attempt to cajole, comfort and appeal to local jurisdictions in diplomatic terms, which reveal both the political and  administrative nature of Riviera’s responsibilities as Secretary of the Consistorial Congregation.


There are also a number of letters that address the administration and conduct of Vatican representatives in the Far East.  Contained within this collection is a letter addressed to Ignazio Cordero agent of the Propaganda Fide in Macao (f. 10), as well as epistles to apostolic mission in the Indies.  A noteworthy document on the evangelization of the Americas, apparently unpublished, is a letter of congratulations to the ministry in Argentina for its success in proselytizing the local population (f. 130).  Another letter written to Ludovico a Roca (f. 171) and the Jesuit mission in Paraguay expresses similar gratitude for their efforts. 


A crucial issue during the pontificate of Clement XI was the Sicilian "schism" provoked by the so-called "Liparitan controversy" which pitted the Kingdom of Sicily against the Papacy.  In 1711, due to a question of taxes in Lipari, a conflict broke out that led, in 1713, to the expulsion from the Kingdom of Sicily, of the bishops of Catania followed by a plethora of bishops from all over Island. In defiance some of the congregations in Sicily, reacted to the new laws and continued to communicate with the Vatican, and celebrate masses and participate in the blessed sacraments. 


Two letters in this volume are addressed to the religious congregations in Lipari, during the time of the revolt.  One was the letter to the Vicar of Agrigento Biagio Maida (f. 79) offering support and the other to the congregation after his expulsion by Sicilian authorities. 


After years of service to the Papacy and numerous positions of responsibility within the Vatican hierarchy, Domenico Riviera was ordained a priest and elevated to the position of Cardinal in 1733.  He continued his responsibilities as Secretary of the Congregation of Cardinals until his death in 1752 as well as his diplomatic duties with Polish legations and the Stuart Dynasty in Scotland, to name a few of his most important posts.   He participated in the conclave of 1740 which elected Benedict XIV and received numerous accolades from the Papacy toward the end of his life.


This copy comes directly from a member of the Riviera family and is being offered for sale on their behalf.


See The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, a Biographical Dictionary for more details on Riviera’s career in the Church.  Leonardo Sciascia, Recitation of the Liparitan controversy dedicated to AD , Einaudi, Turin, 1969.

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Price: $9,500.00

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