Giàcomo Filippo Fransoni was born in Genoa on December 10, 1775. When French troops invaded Genoa during the Revolution, his family went to live in Rome, then in Naples and once again in Rome in 1799. Jacques Philippe became a cleric in 1807 after having obtained his doctorate degree in utroque jure. He subsequently fulfilled various functions in service to the Holy See. He was appointed nuncio to Lisbon in 1822 and titular bishop of Nazianzen. Made a cardinal by Leo XII in 1826 and prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in 1834, he held this post until his death which occurred on April 20, 1856.
We have found forty letters from Bishop de Mazenod to the cardinal. These were all written between 1835 and 1856. There were also twelve from Cardinal Fransoni to the Founder. The matters treated in these letters are sometimes eastern rite bishops and priests visiting in Marseilles and especially Oblate missions. In a November 6, 1843 letter to the Cardinal, Bishop de Mazenod pointed out to him that there was no mention of the Oblates in Notizia statistica delle missioni cattoliche in tutto il mondo. From that time on right up until 1850, in all his letters to the prefect, the Founder listed all the houses and the missions of the Congregation in France and abroad. Whereas his correspondence with Bishop Barnabò, the secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith bears the strong stamp of friendship and affection, his correspondence with the Congregation’s prefect remains restrained and reserved. The Founder met Cardinal Fransoni in Rome in July of 1845 and received from him “a friendly welcome.” (Mazenod Diary, July 15, 1845) He also had a lengthy conversation with him in November of 1854. (Mazenod Diary, November 27, 1854)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Forty letters from Bishop de Mazenod to the cardinal, nineteen of which are published in Oblate Writings I, vol. 5 and twelve letters from the cardinal from 1838 to 1855, kept in the Oblate General Archives in Rome.
MELLANO, M. Fr., “Jacques Philippe Fransoni” in Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 18, col. 1023-1026, Paris, 1977.