Cardinal; b. Naples, Italy, Jan. 30, 1823; d. Rome, Italy, Dec. 7, 1895. He received his early training with the Jesuits, entered the Capuchin Order in 1839, and was ordained Jan. 24, 1846. He volunteered for the missions and departed the same year for the Vicariate of Patna, India. In 1849 he became secretary to Bp. Anastasius Hartmann, OFM Cap., vicar apostolic of Patna and administrator of Bombay. In 1850 he became the first editor of the Bombay Catholic Examiner. Later, as commissary of the vicars apostolic of India, he helped bring the threatening Goanese schism to an end and obtained limited government recognition of the Catholic missionaries in India. Persico was consecrated coadjutor to Hartmann at Bombay on June 4, 1854, and successively became visitator (1854), administrator (1855), and vicar apostolic (1856) of Agra. He resigned (1860) because of illness and returned to Italy. Upon recovery he offered his services in 1867 to the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1869 he was present at the Tenth Provincial Council of Baltimore, where he was permitted to vote. While attending Vatican Council I, he was appointed the fourth bishop of Savannah, Georgia (March 20, 1870), but illness again forced him to resign in 1872. In 1874 Rome entrusted him with a secret mission to Canada. He also went to Malabar, India, in 1877 to settle the Syro-Chaldean schism and to prepare for the erection of the Indian hierarchy. In 1878 Persico was made consultor of the Propaganda Fide and the following year became bishop of the united dioceses of Aquino, Pontecorvo, and Sora, Italy. Illness forced his resignation (1886), and he was named titular archbishop of Damietta, Egypt. In 1887 he went as a papal envoy to Ireland. Upon his return he was named vicar of the Vatican Basilica and secretary of the Propaganda Fide. Leo XIII made Persico a cardinal priest and prefect of the Congregation of Indulgences and Relics on Jan. 16, 1893.
Bibliography: b. a. finn, Twenty-four American Cardinals (Boston 1947). d. c. shearer, Historical Records and Studies of the U.S. Catholic Historical Society of New York 21 (1932) 54–137, with sources and bibliog.