At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Alberto di Jorio – Cardinal

Priest spent 60 years accumulating money for the Vatican


Cardinal Alberto di Jorio served the Vatican Bank for 60 years
Cardinal Alberto di Jorio served the Vatican
Bank for 60 years
Cardinal Alberto di Jorio, who increased the wealth of the Vatican by buying shares in big corporations, was born on this day in 1884 in Rome.

Di Jorio was considered to be the power behind the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, popularly known as the Vatican Bank, which he served for 60 years.

As a young man he had been sent to the prestigious Pontifical Roman Seminary and he became a Catholic priest in 1908.

Di Jorio worked in an administrative role for the Vatican to begin with, but in 1918, when he was still in his early 30s, he took up the position of president of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione - The Institute of Religious Works.

He was directed by Pope Pius XI to form a close working relationship with Bernardino Nogara, a layman working as a financial adviser to the Vatican. Nogara helped di Jorio build up the Vatican’s financial strength.

After the Lateran Treaty settled the Roman Question and made the Vatican an independent state, di Jorio was chosen to run the Vatican Bank and allowed to buy shares in any company, even if it made products that were contrary to Catholic Church teaching.

Pope Paul VI kept Di Jorio in post as head of the Vatican Bank until he was almost 84
Pope Paul VI kept Di Jorio in post as head of
the Vatican Bank until he was almost 84
By buying into strong businesses such as General Motors, Standard Oil, IBM and Italgas, the major supplier of gas to Italy at the time, he substantially increased the wealth of the Vatican.

Di Jorio also became secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1947 and was secretary of the conclave during the election of Pope John XXIII.

Afterwards, the new Pope put his zucchetto - skullcap - on di Jorio’s head, the traditional promise that he would be made a cardinal. Six weeks later di Jorio was made Cardinal-Deacon of the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana.

Di Jorio was later consecrated Titular Archbishop of Castra Nova and he opted to join the order of Cardinal Priests.

He took part in the Second Vatican Council and the conclave of 1963 that elected Pope Paul VI. He continued to be the effective head of the Vatican Bank until 1968 when he was in his 84th year.

In 1976 di Jorio became the oldest member of the College of Cardinals, but he did not participate in the two 1978 conclaves because he was over the age limit.

That same year Pope Paul VI preached a special homily for di Jorio on the 70th  anniversary of his ordination.

Cardinal di Jorio died at his home in Rome in 1979 at the age of 95 and he was buried in a tomb in the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana in Rome.

By night, the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano makes a stunning sight with its ornate neoclassical facade
By night, the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano makes a
stunning sight with its ornate neoclassical facade
Travel tip:

The Istituto per le Opere di Religione, the Vatican Bank, was founded in 1942 and its headquarters are inside Vatican City, which was recognised as an independent state inside Italy by the Lateran Treaty in 1929. The treaty is named after the Lateran Palace where the agreement was signed on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III and Pope Pius IX. The Lateran Palace was the main papal residence in Rome between the fourth and 14th centuries. It is in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, next to the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the first Christian Basilica in Rome and now the cathedral church of the city. Some distance away from the Vatican, the palace is now an extraterritorial property of the Holy See, with similar rights to a foreign embassy. Vatican City covers approximately 40 hectares (100 acres) of land.

Di Jorio's tomb at the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana in Via Urbana
Di Jorio's tomb at the Basilica of Santa
Pudenziana in Via Urbana
Travel tip

The Basilica of Santa Pudenziana, where di Jorio is buried, is in Via Urbana to the north of the papal basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. It is recognised as one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Rome, built in the fourth century and dedicated to Saint Pudentiana, reusing part of an old Roman bath house that can still be seen on the right side of the present structure. A Romanesque bell tower was added in the early 13th century and a Dome was added in the 16th century.

More reading:

How mystery remains over the violent death of 'God's Banker'

Why Pope Paul VI is to be made a saint

The farmer's son from Bergamo who became the 'Good Pope' 

Also on this day:

1610: The mysterious death of Caravaggio

1914: The birth of Gino Bartali, cycling star and secret war hero



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