Luigi Lambruschini was born at Sestri Levante (Genoa) on May 16, 1776. At seventeen, he joined the Barnabites and was ordained to the priesthood in 1799. He got to know Pius VII while he was a prisoner at Savona. The Pope called him to Rome in 1815 as a consultor for the Inquisition and then as secretary of the Congregation for Ecclesiastical Affairs. He was archbishop of Genoa from 1819 to 1827, the nuncio to Paris from 1827 to 1831. Made a cardinal on February 2, 1831 and prefect of the Congregation for Studies, he became the Secretary of State for Gregory XVI from 1836 to 1846. In internal politics, Lambruschini revealed himself as the adversary of the liberals. He was above all a man of the Church, intent on defending the independence of the Holy See against the encroachments of the government. He was prefect of the Congregation of Rites and dean of the Sacred College until he died on May 12, 1854.
Bishops de Mazenod mentions him several times in his correspondence and his diary. He wrote him at least three letters and met him three times. In the course of his trip to Rome in 1825, Father de Mazenod stopped over in Genoa in November of 1825. On November 17, he wrote to Father Tempier that the archbishop “who is an excellent and kind bishop welcomed me with the kindest attention. I am to dine with him today.” Bishop Lambruschini gave him a letter of recommendation to Bishop Mazio, an auditor to the Holy Office.
When he was appointed bishop of Icosia in 1832, Bishop de Mazenod met the cardinal who, on the Pope’s behalf, granted the faithful of Marseilles a dispensation from the fast during the cholera epidemic. In 1833, the government of Louis Philip put pressure on the Pope to remove the Bishop of Icosia from Marseilles and send him either to Aix or Rome. Bishop Raillon preferred not to have him at Aix where the civil authorities were as hostile to him as they were in Marseilles. When he was consulted about this situation, Cardinal Lambruschini came down on the side of Bishop Raillon and added: “Mazenod is not only hot-headed; he is also imprudent, and so imprudent that, already in the past, the royalists and the foresighted Catholics in the Midi of France did not put much store in him and even believed he was a dangerous man, no matter how good his intentions were.” Cardinal Lambruschini himself was an enthusiastic royalist associated with the ultras and the knights of the faith. (LEFLON, II Paris, 1960, p. 458-459; 494)
On May 14, 1837, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to the Cardinal Secretary of State that he hoped to be canonically recognized as bishop of Marseilles at the next consistory. The Cardinal answered that, for lack of the required documentation, Bishop de Mazenod would be recognized only in the October consistory. On September 22, 1839, Bishop de Mazenod wrote a long letter to the cardinal in order to pass on to him information about Mr. Escalon, a candidate for the position of Consul General of Rome in Marseilles. In his diary entry of April 9, 1842, the Founder declared that he was not in agreement with Bishop Bernet, the archbishop of Aix, who was unhappy with the enthusiasm Lambruschini was showing about obtaining from the Pope a doctrinal judgment concerning the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
In July and August 1845, Bishop de Mazenod made a trip to Rome to bless the marriage of his niece Caesaria Boisgelin with Charles de Damas. He was received by the Pope and by several cardinals, Lambruschini among them, who “was kind to the point of asking one of our mutual friends if I was happy with him.” In Rome in October-December 1854, on the occasion of the definition of the Immaculate Conception Bishop de Mazenod “was given lodgings in the apartments occupied by Cardinal Lambruschini in the Quirinal when he was Secretary of State.” (Mazenod Diary, October 28, 1854.)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome. We have the texts of two letters of Bishop de Mazenod to the Cardinal (1837 and 1839) and the original of one letter from Bishop Lambruschini to the Founder, dated December 21, 1825.
MARTIN, Jacques, “L. Lambruschini” in Catholicisme, vol. VI, Paris 1967, col. 1709-1711.