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Bernardino Lopez de Carvajal

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Cardinal, b. 1455, at Plasencia in Estremadura, Spain; d. at Rome 16 Dec., 1523. He was a nephew of the famous Cardinal Juan Carvajal, and owing to the universal esteem for the latter advanced rapidly in the ecclesiastical career at Rome, whither he came during the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471-84). Under Innocent VIII he held successively the Spanish sees of Astorga (1488), Badajoz (1489), and Cartagena, in which latter quality he was sent as nuncio to Spain, and by their Catholic Majesties sent back as Spanish ambassador to Alexander VI, by whom he was made Cardinal of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus in 1493, which title he exchanged in 1495 for that of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. In the next following years he was sent twice as legate to the German imperial court, also to Naples, and acted as Governor of the Campagna. In 1503 he was made Bishop of Sigüenza in Italy, and Administrator of Avellino; from 1507 to 1509 he was in turn Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, Frascati, Palestrina and Santa Sabina. In spite of this rapid advancement and his numerous benefices he is best remembered as the leading spirit of the schismatical Council of Pisa (1511), which he organized with the aid of four other cardinals (Briçonnet, Francesco Borgia, Sanseverino, and René de Prie); dissatisfaction with this treatment by Julius II, and subserviency to the excommunicated French king, Louis XII, led Carvajal to this rebellious attitude. Moroni (Diz., X, 134) says that he went so far as to accept the office of antipope (Martin VI) at Milan whither the Council was soon transferred. Von Reumont says (gesch. d. Stadt Rom. III, ii 78-79) that in Pisa he was known to the urchins of the street as "Papa Bernardino". It would seem, therefore, that ambition was his chief falling; otherwise he was reputed a good theologian and a friend of art and letters, virtuous, eloquent, and skilful in the business of the curia. Both Carvajal and his colleagues were excommunicated by Julius II, and deposed from their offices, which act of the pope was confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council (1512). At the seventh session (1513) of this council the Italian cardinals, Carvajal and Sanseverino, separated from their two French colleagues, formally renounced the schism, and were restored by Leo X to their offices. (Pastor, Gesch. d. Päpste, Freiburg, 1906, IV (1), 37-40). Carvajal was later made Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Dean of the Sacred College, with his uncle's former title of San Marcello, and as such welcomed to Rome Adrian VI (op. cit. IV (2) 47-48), whom he survived, and Clement VII. He had lived at Rome under eight popes, and was buried in his titular church of Santa Croce, where a magnificent sepulchral monument perpetuates his memory. The noble but modernized frescoes (Pinturicchio school) in the tribuna of the apse, representing the Discovery of the Holy Cross, are owing to his generosity. His natural gifts, inherited prestige, numerous benefices, high offices, love of splendour, and great wealth attracted to him more than once the favourable attention of several conclaves, but at a critical period in his career he stood in his own light by fathering an ugly and perilous schism on the very eve of the Protestant Reformation.

About this page

APA citation. Shahan, T. (1908). Bernardino Lopez de Carvajal. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Shahan, Thomas. "Bernardino Lopez de Carvajal." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Gerald M. Knight.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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