Moroni, Gaetano

views updated


Scholar; b. Rome, Oct. 17, 1802; d. Rome, Nov. 3, 1883. When Cardinal Cappellari was made the prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Moroni, formerly a barber, became his chamberlain and was assigned to transcribe the register of documents in the Congregation's archives. In 1831 Cappellari became Pope gregory xvi and named Moroni his private chamberlain (primo aiutante di Camera ). In this position he was entrusted with many delicate confidential assignments. This gave rise to the unfounded rumor that he was interfering unduly in papal policies. Moroni did, however, share all of the pope's unpopularity, because as a newspaperman of the papal court and Roman Curia, he became the object of much sectarian hatred. Moroni continued to hold the same office under Pope Pius IX, but he did not exercise any important duties. This allowed him to concentrate on his studies in ecclesiastical history. His fame is due to his 103-volume Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica (184061), to which were added (187879) six volumes of indexes. This encyclopedia, on which the chiefly self-educated scholar worked indefatigably for more than half a century, brought together a considerable body of important information that remains today useful for its information concerning Church history; the liturgy; the pontifical court; the ceremonies, traditions, and organization of the Curia; the administration of the States of the Church; sacred art; and the lives of the saints, popes, cardinals, and bishops. Moroni gleaned data from several thousand published sources and from information obtained from scholars and specialists. He was best informed on Roman matters, above all for the period of Pope Gregory XVI. Despite its inaccuracies, repetitions, lack of homogeneity and prolixity, the Dizionario is still frequently consulted. Moroni also wrote many official articles on such topics as papal ceremonies and journeys of the popes. His reputation earned him membership in many Italian and foreign academies and several decorations.

Bibliography: e. croci, "Gaetano Moroni e il suo Dizionario," Gregorio XVI miscellanea commemorativa, 2 v. (Rome 1948) 1:135152. e. carusi, "Nei margini dell'Archivio Moroni," Aevum. Rassegna di scienze storiche linguistiche e filologiche 7 (1933): 5864.

[h. r. marraro]