Lorenzana, Francisco Antonio de

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Archbishop of Mexico City and Toledo, cardinal; b. León, Spain, Sept. 22, 1722; d. Rome, April 17, 1804. After finishing his studies with the Jesuits in León, he became a cleric and at an early age he was given a canonry in Toledo. In 1765 he was named bishop of Plasencia, and in the following year Charles III appointed him archbishop of Mexico. In his New World diocese he displayed great energy in advancing not only the religious but also the scientific and social interests of those under his charge. He is particularly noted for collecting and publishing the acts of the first three provincial councils of Mexico (1555, 1565, 1585), Concilios provinciales, I, II, III de México (Mexico 176970). In 1771, at royal behest, he held the fourth Mexican provincial council. Although he sent the proceedings of the sessions to Madrid, they were never published; moreover, the acts of this synod have never been approved by the Holy See. Lorenzana brought together valuable historical documents relating to Mexico's history and published them in a richly illustrated work called Historia de Nueva España escrita por su esclarecido conquistador Hernán Cortés aumentada con otros documentos (Mexico 1770). In 1772 he was recalled to Spain and made archbishop of Toledo, where he built a fine library for the city and collected and published the works of the principal writers of the Archdiocese of Toledo. These appear in SS. Patrum Toletanorum opera (Madrid 178283). He also had published, at his own expense, the works of St. Isidore of Seville, and brought out a beautiful edition of the Gothic Breviary and the Gothic Missal. In his diocese he carried on a number of social works and aided the exiled French clergy during the revolutionary period. In 1789 he was created cardinal by Pope pius vi, and in 1797 was appointed by Charles IV of Spain as envoy extraordinary from Spain to the Holy See. In this office he supported the pope in the difficult times that followed on the French invasion of Italy by Napoleon Bonaparte. On the death of Pius VI, he made possible the conclave at Venice in December of 1799 by paying the travel expenses of cardinals who were without funds. After the election he accompanied the new pope, Pius VII, back to Rome and in order to assist the pontiff so sorely tried by political conditions, resigned his archiepiscopal See of Toledo in 1800. In Rome he was one of the founders of a new Catholic academy and was considered a great friend of the poor, leaving them 25,000 scudi, a bequest he had received. Lorenzana was a typical regalist Spanish bishop of the eighteenth century.

Bibliography: m. cuevas, Historia de la Iglesia en México, 5 v. (5th ed. Mexico City 194647).

[c. e. ronan]