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Francesco Saverio [de] Zelada (August 27, 1717, Rome — December 19, 1801, Rome) was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, born of a Spanish family, who served in the Papal Curia and in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.

He was educated at the University of La Sapienzamarker, gaining degrees utroque iure, in both canon and civil law. He was ordained October 23, 1740. He was appointed titular Archbishop of Petra, December 23, 1766, and cardinal priest in the consistory of April 19, 1773. Appointed by means of a papal brief of Pope Clement XIV, he was the principal negotiator for the Holy See and composer of the brief Dominus ac Redemptor of June 8, 1773, that suppressed the Society of Jesus. On 2 October, the Diario di Roma reported he had been given a Meissen groupmarker representing the death of St. Francis Xavier, confiscated from the Jesuits.

As Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals (1783-84), his career culminated in his appointment by Pope Pius VI as Cardinal Secretary of State, 1789-1796, in which post he was entrusted with difficult negotiations with the French Revolutionary state, which included his peaceful conclusion of peace in 1793. With the French occupation of Rome, Cardinal Zelada retired to Tuscany. Following Pius' death, Zelada participated in the Papal conclave, 1800 that elected Pope Pius VII.

Librarian of the Holy Roman Church from December 15, 1779 until his death, Cardinal Zelada was not known for his religious fervor but rather as a great collector of books, as well as coins and medals and other works of art, and scientific machines. He had a telescope installed in his house near Il Gesù, and transferred it to his residence as Cardinal-Librarian. He installed an observatory at the Collegio Romanomarker. After his death his printed books went to join the Vatican Librarymarker, while his manuscripts went to the capitular library of Toledomarker. His collection of anatomical models he bequeathed to the Ospedale di Santo Spirito.

He is buried in the church of San Martino ai Monti, Rome.


  1. A replica of the original, painted on panel, now at the Art Institute of Chicago, acc. no. 1969.2, which is illustrated and discussed by Steffi Röttgen, "Two Portraits by Mengs in The Art Institute of Chicago", Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, 5 (1970), pp. 64-75.
  2. The prime reference for Zelada's career is Moroni, Dizionario eccesiastico 103 (Venice, 1861:460-68). note 4 Ludwig Pastor, Geschichte der Päpste16', pp 2f.
  3. Röttgen 1970:
  4. Pastor, 16.3, pp 510ff.
  5. A contemporary satiric verse asserts that Zelada is seen to "portar la croce sol per ornamento", wear the cross only as an ornament". (quoted in Nello).
  6. Röttgen 1970:65, quoting Vian Nello, "un piccolo fondo sulla rivoluzione francese", Studium", (July - August 1965:7f).

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