Nicola Canali

Nicola Canali

Cardinal Merry del Val and Milenko Vesnić signing the Concordat between the Holy See and Serbia in 1914. Left to right: Eugenio Pacelli (Secretary of the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs), Rafael Merry del Val (Vatican Secretary of State), Nicola Canali (his private secretary), Mons. Dionigi Cardon (Vatican's negotiator in Belgrade), Milenko Radomar Vesnić (Special Minister of Serbia).
President of the Governatorate of Vatican City
In office
20 March 1939  3 August 1961
Monarch Pius XII
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Amleto Giovanni Cicognani
Personal details
Born 6 June 1874
Rieti, Italy
Died 3 August 1961(1961-08-03) (aged 87)
Vatican City

Nicola Canali (6 June 1874 – 3 August 1961) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State from 1939 and as Major Penitentiary from 1941 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1935. He was Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a prestigious papal order of knighthood.


Canali was born in Rieti to Marquis Filippo Canali and his wife, the Countess Leonetta Vincentini. After studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood on 31 March 1900 in the Lateran Basilica. On 1 September 1903, Canali was made private secretary to Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val and entered the Roman Curia, in the Secretariat of State. He was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness in November of that same year.

On 21 March 1908, Monsignor Canali was appointed Substitute for General Affairs, or deputy, of the Secretary of State. He was made a Domestic Prelate of His Holiness on the following 23 March, and later Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Ceremonies on 24 September 1914. As Secretary, he served as the second-highest official of that dicastery, successively under the brother Cardinals Serafino Vannutelli and Vincenzo Vannutelli. Canali was named assessor of the Holy Office on 27 June 1926, and a Protonotary Apostolic on the following 15 September.

Coat of Arms of Cardinal Canali

Pope Pius XI created him Cardinal-Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere in the consistory of 16 December 1935. Canali was one of the cardinal electors in the 1939 papal conclave that selected Pope Pius XII, who appointed him the first President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State on 20 March 1939.

Made Major Penitentiary on 15 October 1941, the Cardinal was appointed Pro-President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See in 1951 (remaining in that post until his death), and participated in the 1958 papal conclave, which resulted in the election of Pope John XXIII. In virtue of his position as Cardinal Protodeacon, he both announced Pope John's election and later crowned him on 4 November 1958. He was made Protector of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre on 16 July 1940, and later its Grand Master on 26 December 1949.[1]

In the same year, when Azione Cattolica asked permission "to sell souvenirs in St. Peter's Square", Canali refused and said that "St. Peter's is a house of prayer". This followed a case of planned pickpocketing in St. Peter's Square, and the subsequent banning of all vendors, photographers, and beggars.[2]

Canali died from pneumonia in his Vatican apartment, at age 87.[3] He is buried in the church of S. Onofrio al Gianicolo in Rome. He was the last non-bishop cardinal to die before Pope John XXIII issued on 15 April 1962 the motu proprio Cum gravissima, providing that thenceforth all cardinals should receive episcopal consecration. But he was not the last non-bishop cardinal, since a few, such as Avery Dulles, have obtained dispensation from this rule.


  1. The Papal Orders. The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem
  2. TIME Magazine. The Money-Changers 3 October 1949
  3. TIME Magazine. Milestones 11 August 1961
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State
20 March 1939 – 3 August 1961
Succeeded by
Amleto Giovanni Cicognani
Preceded by
Lorenzo Lauri
Major Penitentiary
15 October 1941 – 3 August 1961
Succeeded by
Arcadio Larraona Saralegui
Preceded by
Camillo Caccia-Dominioni
Cardinal Protodeacon
12 November 1946 – 3 August 1961
Succeeded by
Alfredo Ottaviani
Preceded by
Pope Pius XII
Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
25 December 1949 – 19 August 1960
Succeeded by
Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Tisserant
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 3/21/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.