Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana
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Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana
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Cardinal, b. 22 Sept., 1722 at Leon in Spain; d. 17 April, 1804, at Rome. After the completion of his studies at the Jesuit College of his native city, he entered the ecclesiastical state and was appointed, at an early date, to a canonry in Toledo. In 1765 he was named Bishop of Plasencia (not Palencia, as sometimes erroneously stated). The following year he was called upon to assume the difficult charge of the vast Archdiocese of Mexico. He displayed great energy in advancing not only the religious, but also the scientific and social interests of the new district confided to his care. As a monument of his beneficience may be mentioned an asylum for foundlings which he established at his own expense. He collected and published the acts of the first three provincial councils of Mexico held respectively in 1555, 1565, and 1585: "Concilios provinciales, I, II, III, de Mexico" (Mexico, 1769-70). In 1771 he himself held the fourth Mexican provincial synod. Unfortunately its decrees, which he forwarded to Madrid for confirmation, were buried in the royal archives. He also brought together valuable historical documents relating to the profane and religious history of Mexico and published them in a richly illustrated work under the title, "Historia de Nueva Espana" (Mexico, 1770). In 1772 the indefatigable archbishop was recalled to Spain and placed at the head of the Archdiocese of Toledo. He built a great library for this city and collected the works of the principal writers of the Church of Toledo. These writings appeared in a magnificent edition, "SS. Patrum Toletanorum opera" (Madrid, 1782-93). He likewise published a new and very beautiful edition of the Gothic or Mozarabic Breviary, "Breviarium Gothicum" (Madrid, 1775), and Mozarabic Missal, "Missale Gothicum" (Rome, 1804). In the introductions to these publications he discussed with great erudition the Mozarabic liturgy. Editions of Spanish conciliar decrees, the Roman Catechism, and the Canons of the Council of Trent also engaged his attention, and the works of Isidore of Seville were published at his expense by the Spanish Jesuit, Arevalo: "S. Isidori Hispalensis Opera Omnia" (Rome, 1797-1803).
Along with these scientific pursuits he actively carried on social work, founding hospitals and asylums and extending a helping hand to the needy. During the French Revolution he was a generous benefactor of the exiled French clergy, over five hundred of whom he received into his own diocese. In 1789 he was created cardinal by Pius VI, and in 1797 was appointed envoy extraordinary from Spain to the Holy See. In this capacity he supported the pope in the difficulties attendant on the French invasion. On the death of Pius VI he made possible the holding of the conclave at Venice (1 Dec., 1799) by providing travelling expenses for some of the cardinals who were utterly penniless. He accompanied the newly elected pope, Pius VII, to Rome and in order to remain at his side resigned in 1800 his archiepiscopal see. No less active at Rome than at Mexico or Toledo, he was in 1801 one of the founders of a new Catholic Academy in the Eternal City. An inheritance of 25,000 scudi which fell to him he assigned to the poor, whom he designated as his heirs.