Cardinal, papal secretary of state; b. Ancona, Italy, Jan. 31, 1795; d. Rome, Sept. 13, 1860. He came from a family of the lower nobility related to the family of Pius IX. After becoming bishop of Rieti (1827), he served as nuncio to Naples (1833–37) and archbishop of Fermo (1837–42) and became a cardinal (1839) and legate to Pesaro (December 1846). His liberal sympathies led Pius IX to name him secretary of state (July 5, to Dec. 31, 1847), succeeding Gizzi. An adherent of neo-guelfism, Ferretti favored the Italian national cause, notably by seeking a tariff union with Piedmont; but he refused to go so far as to declare war on Austria. In the states of the church he sought to give some satisfaction to moderate liberal opinion, but contented himself with half-measures. His popularity was very high at the start, but declined rapidly, partly because of his very explosive disposition. After resigning the secretariate of state he was legate to Ravenna for some months before becoming grand penitentiary (1852), and then cardinal bishop of Sabina (1853). His generosity and integrity were widely esteemed.
Bibliography: d. spadoni, Dizionario del risorgimento nazionale, ed. m. rosi et al., 4 v. (Milan 1930–37) 3:80. a. m. ghisalberti, Enciclopedia Italiana di scienzi, littere ed arti (Rome 1929–39) 15:63. l. farini, Lo stato romano dal 1815 al 1850, v.1 (Florence 1854). r. quazza, Pio IX e Massimo d'Azeglio nelle vicende romane del 1847, 2 v. (Modena 1954–55).