Macnutt, Francis Augustus
MACNUTT, FRANCIS AUGUSTUS
Papal courtier, author; b. Richmond, Ind., February 15, 1863; d. Bressanone, Italy, December 30, 1927. He was the son of Joseph and Laetitia Jane (Scott) MacNutt, well-to-do Episcopalians. MacNutt attended Philips Academy, Exeter, N.H. (1878–80), and Harvard University Law School (1880–81), spending also many months in foreign travel and the study of languages. He was received into the Catholic Church in Rome on March 22, 1883, and first began ecclesiastical training as an associate of the "Priests of Expiation," an abortive religious society projected by Rev. Kenelm Vaughan of England. While a student (1887–89) of the Pontifical Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics, Rome, he concluded that he was not called to the priesthood and secured appointments as first secretary of the U.S. legations at Constantinople (1890–92) and Madrid (1892–93). In 1898 he married Margaret van Cortlandt Ogden of New York and took up residence in Rome. Leo XIII, who in 1895 had made MacNutt an honorary papal chamberlain "of cape and sword," assigned him to active service in the papal court. He was the first American to hold such a post. In 1904 Pius X named him one of four ranking chamberlains. However, since he had become the object of a defamatory campaign in certain lay circles, MacNutt decided to resign his Vatican post in 1905. He succeeded in vindicating his good name, but declined invitations to reassume his court functions. Settling in Schloss Ratzötz, his Tyrolese home near Bressanone, he spent the rest of his life in social activities and writing. Of his seven books, the most important were: Letters of Cortes (1908); De orbe novo, The Eight Decades d'Anghera (1912); and Bartholomew de las Casas (1909). His posthumously published memoirs, A Papal Chamberlain (1936), are the recollections of a U.S. expatriate who found himself at home in the courtly society of a bygone era.
[r. f. mcnamara]
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