Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pierfrancesco Scarampi

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From volume 13 of the work.

Oratorian, Papal envoy, b. of a noble and ancient family in the Duchy of Monferrato, Piedmont, 1596; d. at Rome, 14 Oct., 1656. He was destined by his parents for the military career, but during a visit to the Roman Court he felt called to the religious state. After much prayer and with the advice of his confessor, he entered the Roman Oratory of St. Philip Neri on 4 November, 1636. At the request of Fr. Luke Wadding, the agent at Rome for the Irish Confederates, Urban VIII, by Brief dated 18 April, 1643, sent Fr. Scarampi to assist at the Supreme Council of the Confederation. At the same time the pope addressed letters to the archbishops and bishops of Ireland and also to the members of the Supreme Council, telling them that in order to show his great love and admiration for the Irish people he had decided to sent to their aid Fr. Scarampi, a man of noble birth and eminent for his virtues and great administrative abilities. He told them to place full confidence in him as his representative and give him all help in the fulfillment of his duties. He was received by the Irish Catholics as an angel from heaven. Wherever he went he was met by the bishops, clergy, and nobility. He was received with military honours and firing of canon. On his arrival in Kilkenny he immediately saw that the danger that threatened the existence of the Confederation was dissension amongst its members. He made an earnest appeal to the Council to avoid all dissension and to make no compromise with the enemies of their religion and country. Richard Bellings, Secretary of the Council, addressed to Fr. Scarampi a statement of the reasons in favour of a cessation of hostilities. Fr. Scarampi immediately gave a noble answer showing why the war should be continued, and that the English desired the cessation of hostilities solely to relieve their present necessities. The bishops and the Supreme Council thanked the pope for having sent to their aid a person of such exemplary life and excellent abilities of mind, and rejoiced at his presence amongst them. The author of "Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland" says that Fr. Scarampi was a "verie apt and understandinge man, and was receaved with much honour. This man in a shorte time became soe learned in the petegrees of the respective Irish families of Ireland, that it proved his witt and diligence, and allsoe soe well obsearved that all the proceedings of both ancient and recent Irish, that to an ince, he knewe whoe best and worst beheaved himself in the whole kingdome."

The Supreme Council decided to supplicate the pope to raise Fr. Scarampi to the dignity of archbishop and Apostolic numcio, and the bishops of Ireland entreated him to accept the Archbishopric of Tuam, which was vacant at the time. He declined all honours and refused to walk under the canopy prepared for him in Waterford. He was present with the Confederate forces at the siege of Duncannon, and when the fort was taken on the eve of St. Patrick, he ordered a chapel to be immediately erected in honour of the saint and celebrated the first Mass. On 5 May, 1645, he was recalled to Rome by Innocent X. In taking leave of the General Assembly, he thanked all the members for their kindness to him, and again urged them to be firmly united. The President of the Assembly, after referring to all the fatigues that Fr. Scarampi had endured for the Irish cause, said "that as long as the name of the Catholic religion remained in Ireland, so long would the name of Scarampi be affectionately remembered and cherished." After receiving the Apostolic nuncio, Rinunccini, he set out on his journey to Rome. He was followed to the ship by the bishops, clergy, and laity, many comparing his departure to that of St. Paul from Miletus. All were in tears. He was accompanied by five Irish youths destined for the priesthood, whom he wished to educate and support at his own expense at Rome. Among these youths was Oliver Plunket, the martyr Archbishop of Armagh. On his arrival at Rome he was thanked and praised by the pope for the great work he had done in Ireland. When the plague broke out in Rome in 1656, he asked to be allowed to attend the sick in the lazaretto. He caught the sickness and died. By special permission he was buried in the Basilica of SS. Nercus and Achilleus on the Appian Way, the titular church of Cardinal Baronius. In the lazaretto he wrote a most touching letter to Oliver Plunket. Benedict XIV commanded the Master of the Sacred Palace to make known to the Fathers of the Oratory that the title of Venerable was to be given to Fr. Scarampi when writing about him and on his pictures.

HARALDUS, Vita L. Waddingi (Rome, 1662); RINUCCINI, Nunziatura in Irlanda (Florence, 1844); ARINGHI, Memorie Storiche della vita del Ven. P. F. Scarampi (Rome, 1744); HAVERTY, Hist. of Ireland (Dublin, 1860); BRENAN, Eccl. Hist. Of Ireland (Dublin, 1864); MEEHAN, Confederation of Kilkenny (Dublin, 1882); Rise and Fall of I. F. Monasteries (Dublin, 1877); MORAN, Spicilegium Ossoriense (Dublin, 1874); GILBERT, Contemporary Hist. Of Affairs in Ireland (Dublin, 1879); BELLINGS, Hist. Of the Irish Confederation (Dublin, 1882); D'ALTON, History of Ireland (London, 1911); GARDINER, History of the Civil War 1642-49 (London, 1910); MS., Life of F. Scarampi and other MSS. In Vallicellana Library, Rome; Barberini MSS. in Vatican Library; MSS. in Franciscan Library, Dublin.