Clarissimo Falconieri Mellini was born in Rome in 1794. He was appointed archbishop of Ravenna on July 3, 1826. He happened to be in Rome when Bishop de Mazenod was consecrated bishop in the church of Saint Sylvester on October 14, 1832 and acted as co-consecrator. On that day, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to his uncle Bishop Fortuné: “You would have been touched to see the archbishop of Ravenna, the first assistant priest, not only clasp me in his arms every time we exchanged the kiss of peace, but also show me a regard filled with affection by kissing me on both cheeks, a gesture whose sentiment I appreciated.”
In 1834, the bishop of Icosia wrote to bishop Falconieri: “Persecutions are not lacking, since the government cannot forgive me for the fact that the Pope appointed me bishop motu proprio. I proceed with caution, but without giving way to discouragement, convinced that St. Peter never needed Nero’s by-your-leave to consecrate the bishops he was sending to different countries...” On March 4, 1838, he congratulated Archbishop Falconieri on his receiving the cardinal’s hat on February 12 of that year and, at the beginning of May, he sent him a biography of Saint Alphonse de Liguori.
The two met at a reception in Rome on November 27, 1854. The Founder wrote in his diary of that day: “We would not have recognized each other, since it will soon be twenty-three years since we saw each other. Our meeting, in the midst of that great crowd, was most touching. I could not leave him; it was like two friends meeting after a long absence.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 17, p. 214) The cardinal died on August 22, 1859.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
AUBERT, R., “Cardinal Falconieri Mellini”, in Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 16, col. 437, Paris, 1967.