Acton, Charles Januarius

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Cardinal; b. Naples, Italy, March 6, 1803; d. there, June 23, 1847. He was the son of Sir John Acton, sometime prime minister of the Kingdom of Naples. After his father's death (1811), Charles went to England, where he studied at Westminster School and then at Magdalene College, Cambridge (181923). He then returned to Rome to attend the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics previous to ordination. In 1828 he was made a papal chamberlain and was appointed secretary to the nuncio in Paris. His next appointment was that of vice legate at Bologna. Before the uprising in Bologna (1831), Gregory XVI named him secretary to the Congregation of Regulars. Later he became auditor of the Apostolic Chamber. He was proclaimed cardinal (June 24, 1842) after being created in petto nearly three years previously. At the meeting between Gregory XVI and Czar Nicholas I (1845), Acton was the interpreter and sole witness. Later he wrote an account of the conversation at the pope's request. As adviser to the Holy See on matters concerning England, he recommended in 1840 an increase in the number of English vicars apostolic from four to eight but opposed the restoration of the hierarchy (1850). Although urged by the king of Naples to do so, he refused to accept the archiepiscopal See of Naples.

Bibliography: c. s. isaacson, The Story of the English Cardinals (London 1907). b. n. ward, The Sequel to Catholic Emancipation, 2 v. (New York 1915) 1:15466. j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time 1:36.

[b. fothergill]