Caesar Baronius

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Caesar Baronius
Cardinal-Priest of Santi Nereo ed Achilleo
Cesare Baronio.jpg
Church Roman Catholic Church
Appointed21 June 1596
Term ended30 June 1607
Predecessor Gianfrancesco Morosini
Successor Innocenzo Del Bufalo-Cancellieri
Other posts Librarian of the Vatican Library (1597 – 1607)
Ordination27 May 1564
Created cardinal5 June 1596
by Pope Clement VIII
Personal details
Birth nameCesare Baronio
Born30 August 1538
Sora, Duchy of Sora
Died30 June 1607(1607-06-30) (aged 68)
Rome, Papal States
Buried Santa Maria in Vallicella
DenominationRoman Catholic
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Venerable
  • Cardinal's attire
  • Book
Styles of
Caesar Baronius
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Cesare Baronio (also known as Caesar Baronius; 30 August 1538 30 June 1607) was an Italian cardinal and ecclesiastical historian of the Roman Catholic Church. His best-known works are his Annales Ecclesiastici ("Ecclesiastical Annals"), which appeared in 12 folio volumes (15881607). Pope Benedict XIV conferred upon him the title of Venerable.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern and Western Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

Historian person who studies and writes about the past

A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.

<i>Annales Ecclesiastici</i> book

Annales Ecclesiastici, consisting of twelve folio volumes, is a history of the first 12 centuries of the Christian Church, written by Caesar Baronius.



Cesare Baronio was born at Sora in Italy in 1538 as the only child of Camillo Baronio and Porzia Febonia.

Sora, Lazio Comune in Lazio, Italy

Sora is a town and comune of Lazio, Italy, in the province of Frosinone. It is built in a plain on the banks of the Liri. This part of the valley is the seat of some important manufacturing, especially of paper mills. The area around Sora is famous for the costumes of its peasants.

He was educated at Veroli and Naples, where he commenced his law studies in October 1556. At Rome, he obtained his doctorate in canon law and civil law. After this, he became a member of the Congregation of the Oratory in 1557 under Philip Neri - future saint - and was ordained to the subdiaconate on 21 December 1560, and later to the diaconate on 20 May 1561. He was then ordained to the priesthood in 1564. [1] He succeeded Neri as superior in 1593.

Veroli Comune in Lazio, Italy

Veroli is a town and comune in province of Frosinone, Lazio, central Italy, in the Latin Valley.

Naples Comune in Campania, Italy

Naples is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan. In 2017, around 967,069 people lived within the city's administrative limits while its province-level municipality has a population of 3,115,320 residents. Its continuously built-up metropolitan area is the second or third largest metropolitan area in Italy and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Pope Clement VIII, whose confessor he was from 1594, elevated him into the cardinalate on 5 June 1596 and also appointed him as the Librarian of the Vatican. Baronio was given the red hat on 8 June and received status as Cardinal-Priest of Santi Nereo e Achilleo on 21 June.

Pope Clement VIII 17th-century Catholic pope

Pope Clement VIII, born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 2 February 1592 to his death in 1605. Born in Fano, Italy to a prominent Florentine family, he initially came to prominence as a canon lawyer before being made a Cardinal-Priest in 1585. In 1592 he was elected Pope and took the name of Clement. During his papacy he effected the reconciliation of Henry IV of France to the Catholic faith and was instrumental in setting up an alliance of Christian nations to oppose the Ottoman Empire in the so-called Long War. He also successfully adjudicated in a bitter dispute between the Dominicans and the Jesuits on the issue of efficacious grace and free will. In 1600 he presided over a jubilee which saw a large number of pilgrimages to Rome. He had little pity for his opponents, presiding over the trial and execution of Giordano Bruno and implementing strict measures against Jewish residents of the Papal States. He may have been the first pope to drink coffee. Clement VIII died at the age of 69 in 1605 and his remains now rest in the Santa Maria Maggiore.

Santi Nereo e Achilleo church in Roma, Italy

Santi Nereo e Achilleo is a fourth-century basilica church in Rome, Italy, located in via delle Terme di Caracalla in the rione Celio facing the main entrance to the Baths of Caracalla. The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus Ss. Nerei et Achillei was Theodore Edgar McCarrick until his resignation from the cardinalate on 28 July 2018.

Baronius restored his titular church of Church of Sts Nereus and Achilleus and a procession in 1597 celebrated a transfer to it of relics. [2] He also had work done on the Church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio.

San Gregorio Magno al Celio church in Rome

San Gregorio Magno al Celio, also known as San Gregorio al Celio or simply San Gregorio, is a church in Rome, Italy, which is part of a monastery of monks of the Camaldolese branch of the Benedictine Order. On March 10, 2012, the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the Camaldolese in 1012 was celebrated here at a Vespers service attended by Anglican and Catholic prelates and jointly led by Pope Benedict XVI and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

At subsequent conclaves, Baronio was twice considered to be papabile - the conclaves had the elections of Pope Leo XI and Pope Paul V. On each occasion, he was opposed by Spain on account of his work "On the Monarchy of Sicily", in which he supported the papal claims against those of the Spanish government.

Papal conclave Papal election

A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, also known as the pope. The pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Papabile is an unofficial Italian term first coined by Vaticanologists and now used internationally in many languages to describe a Roman Catholic man, in practice always a cardinal, who is thought a likely or possible candidate to be elected pope. A literal English translation would be "pop(e)able" or "able to be pope". In Italy the term has become very common and people use it for other situations too.

Pope Leo XI 17th-century Catholic pope

Pope Leo XI, born Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici, was Pope from 1 to 27 April 1605. His pontificate is one of the briefest in history having lasted under a month. He was from the prominent House of Medici originating from Florence. Medici's mother opposed his entering the priesthood and sought to prevent it by having him given secular honours, but after her death he eventually was ordained a priest in 1567. In his career he served as Florence's ambassador to the pope, Bishop of Pistoia, Archbishop of Florence, papal legate to France, and as the cardinal Prefect for the Congregation of the Bishops and Religious. He was elected to the papacy in the March 1605 papal conclave and served as pope for 27 days.

Baronio died in Santa Maria in Vallicella in Rome on 30 June 1607, and was buried in that same church.


Baronius is best known for his Annales Ecclesiastici undertaken at the request of Philip Neri as an answer to the anti-Catholic history, the Magdeburg Centuries . He began writing this account of the Church after almost three decades of lecturing at Santa Maria in Vallicella.

In the Annales, he treats history in strict chronological order and keeps theology in the background. Lord Acton called it "the greatest history of the Church ever written". [3] In the Annales, Baronius coined the term "Dark Age" in the Latin form saeculum obscurum, [4] to refer to the period between the end of the Carolingian Empire in 888 and the first inklings of the Gregorian Reform under Pope Clement II in 1046.

Notwithstanding its errors, especially in Greek history in which he had to depend upon secondhand information, the work of Baronius stands as an honest attempt to write history. Sarpi, in urging Casaubon to write a refutation of the Annales, warned him never to accuse or suspect Baronius of bad faith.

He also undertook a new edition of the Roman martyrology (1586), in which he removed some entries implausible for historical reasons. He is also known for saying, in the context of the controversies about the work of Copernicus and Galileo, "The Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go." [5] This remark, which Baronius probably made in conversation with Galileo, was cited by the latter in his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1615).

At the time of the Venetian Interdict, Baronius published a pamphlet "Paraenesis ad rempublicam Venetam" (1606). It took a stringent papalist line on the crisis. [6] It was answered by the Antiparaenesis ad Caesarem Baronium of Niccolò Crasso in the same year. [7]


A Latin biography of Baronius by the oratorian Hieronymus Barnabeus (Girolamo Barnabeo or Barnabò) appeared in 1651 as Vita Caesaris Baronii. [8] Another Oratorian, Raymundus Albericus (Raimondo Alberici), edited three volumes of his correspondence from 1759. [9] There are other biographies by Amabel Kerr (1898), [10] and by Generoso Calenzio (La vita e gli scritti del cardinale Cesare Baronio, Rome 1907). [11]


Baronio left a reputation for sanctity, which led Pope Benedict XIV to proclaim him "Venerable" (12 January 1745). [12]

In 2007, on the 400th anniversary of his death, the cause for his canonization, which had been stalled since 1745, was reopened by the Procurator General of the Oratory of St Philip Neri. [13]

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  1. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ven. Cesare Baronius"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. Cyriac K. Pullapilly, Caesar Baronius: Counter-Reformation Historian (1975), University of Notre Dame Press, p. 77.
  3. Lord Acton (1906). Lectures on Modern History, "The Counter-Reformation", p. 121.
  4. Baronius, Caesar. Annales Ecclesiastici , Vol. X. Roma, 1602, p. 647.
  5. Cerrato, Edoardo Aldo. "How to go to Heaven, and not how the heavens go"
  6. William J. Bouwsma (29 August 1984). Venice and the Defense of Republican Liberty: Renaissance Values in the Age of the Counter Reformation. University of California Press. p. 379. ISBN   978-0-520-05221-5 . Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  7. Niccolò Crasso (1606). Antiparaenesis ad Caesarem Baronium Cardinalem pro S. Venetia republica . Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  8. Hieronymus Barnabeus (1651). Vita Caesaris Baronii ex congregatione Oratorii S.R.E. Presbyteri cardinalis et Apostolicae Sedis bibliothecarii. Casoni. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  9. Gaetano Moroni (1846). Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni ... (in Italian). Tipografia Emiliana. p. 141. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  10. Lady Amabel Kerr. The Life of Cesare Cardinal Baronius of the Roman Oratory, London, 1898
  11. (in Italian), Calenzio, Generoso.
  12. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Venerable Cesare Baronius".
  13. Zev, Elizabeth. "A Saintly Chef: Cardinal Baronio's Canonization Cause Revived" Archived 2012-03-16 at the Wayback Machine