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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Twentieth Century Bishops of Reggio Emilia

The year 2014 has seen the publication of two excellent works on the episcopate.  The already mentioned three volume Episcopologio Agustiniano came to us from Spain and now we have an equally excellent book on the twentieth century bishops of Reggio Emilia which includes bishops native to the diocese and province and notes on a bishop of Reggio who governed that diocese from the last years of the sixteenth century through most of the first quarter of the seventeenth century.

Le genealogie episcopali dei Vescovi di Reggio Emilia del secolo XX is the result of the meticulous research of Father Roberto Fornaciari, a monk priest of the Camaldolese Congregation of the Order of Saint Benedict.  Father Fornaciari has presented us with a work whose scope is a specific diocese and region during a defined period in its history. 

The author’s erudition is evident in the precision of the details for each bishop and the number and richness of the footnotes. Father Fornaciari includes the episcopal lineage of each bishop as well as the names of the bishops for whom each bishop served as either the consecrator or co-consecrator.

The book includes an appendix which provides information on Bishop Claudio Rangoni, Bishop of Reggio Emilia from 1592 to 1621.  This Bishop Claudio Rangoni – there were two, both from Modena and cousins – is notable because it is through him that Pope Pius XI and a large number of Polish bishops finally found their way into the great line of Scipione Rebiba.  Father Fornaciari provides a short but precise account of how this came about, citing the research of Dr. Krzysztof Rafal Prokop in identifying Bishop Rangoni as a key consecrator in that line and the author’s own research which found the consecrator of Bishop Rangoni and which provided the connection to the Rebiba line. I previously mentioned Father Fornaciari’s research on Bishop Rangoni elsewhere on this blog.

The book is completed by interesting notes on episcopal lineages, an index of names, and a general index.  It can be ordered from the publisher, Antiche Porte editrice.  Information can be found on the publisher’s website:  http://www.anticheporte.it/web/

I congratulate Father Fornaciari on the publication of this well-researched and interesting book. I am delighted to have it in my library and I heartily recommend it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Other lines of succession

In addition to the Rebiban line, there are four other active Roman-rite lines of succession: the d’Estouteville line, ending in 1440; the von Bodman line, which ends in 1686, the Ravizza line, which ends in 1667, and the de Bovet line, which ends in 1789.

The Maronite, Greek Melkite, Chaldean, and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churches account for the majority of Eastern Catholic lineages. However, there are several Eastern Catholic bishops who belong to the Rebiban line, while a handful of Roman-rite bishops belong to either the Maronite or Chaldean lines.

The current state of episcopal lineages

As of 27 July 2015, there are approximately 5,288 living bishops in the Roman Catholic and the several Eastern Catholic sui iuris Churches; that is, bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome. The overwhelming majority of these bishops trace their orders to Scipione Rebiba who was ordained a bishop in 1541.

Approximately 168 bishops belong to lines of the various Eastern Catholic sui iuris Churches: Chaldeans, Maronites, Melkites, Syro-Malankars, and Ukrainians. Among this small number of bishops are found eleven Roman-rite bishops belonging to the Maronite line and eleven Roman-rite bishops belonging to the Chaldean line.

The bishops of the Armenian, Bulgarian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Ruthenian, Slovak, ans Syro-Malabar sui iuris Churches belong to the Rebiban line with the exception of one Slovak bishop who belongs to the Ukrainian line. Similarly, one Maronite bishop – a former apostolic nuncio – and eight Ukrainian bishops belong to the Rebiban line.

The four small active Roman-rite lines account for a total of 48 bishops, divided as follows:

*the Ravizza line – 4 living members
*the de Bovet line – 9 living members
*the von Bodman line – 11 living membes
*the d’Estouteville lines – 23 living members

Lists of the bishops belonging to each of these lines as well as examples of these lineages will be added to this blog in the next few days. Research to find information which will extend each of these lines as well as the Rebiba line is ongoing.

In summary, approximately 95.8% of Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic bishops belong to the Rebiba line; 3.3% belong to one of the several Eastern Catholic lines; and 0.9% belong to one of the other four active Roman-rite lines. 

Roman-rite bishops belonging to Eastern Catholic lines

Twenty two Roman-rite bishops belong to an Eastern Catholic line: eleven to the Chaldean line and eleven to the Maronite line. The reason for this departure from the norm has to do with the conferral of episcopal ordinations by two diplomats of the Holy See.

Father Antonin-Fernand Drapier, O.P., was serving in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) when he was named Titular Archbishop of Neocaesarea in Ponto and Apostolic Delegate to Mesopotamia. He chose to be ordained bishop in Mesopotamia by the Chaldean bishop of Amadiyah, Bishop François David, who was assisted by Syriac Archbishop Athanase Georges Cyrille Dallal of Mossul, and Armenian Archbishop Jacques Nessimian of Mardin. On November 19, 1936 he was named Apostolic Delegate to Indochina and it was during his service there than he ordained nine bishops for Viêt Nâm and one for Laos.

Of those ten bishops, two conferred episcopal ordination on other bishops and as those bishops ordained others, the Chaldean line was continued in Viêt Nâm and Laos. Today we find nine bishops in Viêt Nâm and one bishop in Italy – a retired missionary bishop in Laos – in the Chaldean line begun there by Archbishop Drapier.  They are:

*Etienne Nguyên Nhu Thê, Archbishop emeritus of Huê
*Pierre Nguyên Soan, Bishop emeritus of Quy Nhon
*Francois-Xavier Le Van Hong, Archbishop of Huê
*Vincent Nguyên Van Ban, Bishop of Ban Mê Thuôt
*Jean Baptiste Bui Tuân, Bishop emeritus of Long Xuyên
*Joseph Ngô Quang Kiêt, Archbishop emeritus of Hà Nôi
*Joseph Trân Xuân Tiéu, Bishop of Long Xuyên
*Joseph Dang Duc Nang, Bishop of Lang Son et Cao Bang
*Laurent Chu Van Minh, Titular Bishop of Thinisa in Numidia and Auxiliary of Hà Nôi
*Joseph Tran Van Toan, Titular Bishop of Acalissus and Auxiliary of Long Xuyên
*Alessandro Stacciolo, O.M.I., Titular Bishop of Tauriano, former Vicar Apostolic of Luang Prabang, Laos, and former Auxiliary of Siena-Colle di Val d'Elsa-Montalcino, Italy.

Monsignor Paul Fouad Naim Tabet, a member of the Holy See’s diplomatic service, was named Titular Archbishop of Sinna and Apostolic Nuncio to several countries in the Caribbean on 9 February 1980.  Monsignor Tabet, a Maronite, was ordained bishop on 30 March 1980 in Lebanon by His Beatitude Antoine Pierre Khoraiche, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites and a future cardinal, assisted by two Maronite bishops: Bishop Chucrallah Harb of Jounieh and Bishop Roland Aboujaoudé, Titular Bishop of Arca in Phoenicia of the Maronites. Archbishop Tabet served in the Caribbean until he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria on 8 September 1984. He subsequently served in the Secretariate of State and as Apostolic Nuncio to Greece, retiring from the Holy See’s diplomatic service in early 2005.

During his service in the Caribbean he ordained three bishops, one of whom was created a cardinal by Pope Francis, and while in Nigeria he ordained three more bishops. Two of the Caribbean bishops ordained by him in turn ordained other bishops and there are now eight living bishops of the Maronite line in the Caribbean and three in Nigeria.  They are:

*Kelvin Edward Felix, Cardinal and Archbishop emeritus of Castries
*Edward Joseph Gilbert, C.Ss.R., Archbishop emeritus of Port of Spain
*Patrick Christopher Punder, Archbishop of Nassau
*Joseph Everard Harris, C.S.Sp., Archbishop of Port of Spain
*Gabriel Malzaire, Bishop of Roseau
*Francis Dean Alleyne, O.S.B., Bishop of Georgetown
*Charles Jason Gordon, Bishop of Bridgetown and of Kingstown
*Ernest Mesmin Lucien Cabo, Bishop emeritus of Basse Terre et Pointe-à-Pitre
*Joseph Effiong Ekuwem, Archbishop of Calabar
*Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, Bishop of Umuahia

*Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Aba

My favorite websites

Over the years, I have visited many websites which present information relevant to my work on the episcopate.  The following sites are my favorites due to the depth and breadth of the information they provide and the scholarship and attention to detail which their creators continue to provide.

The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

This website is the creation of Salvador Miranda who is, in my estimation, the premier expert on the College of Cardinals. The author provides an encyclopedic presentation on the College of Cardinals and the men who have been called to membership in it. This site is constantly updated and provides visitors with information-rich catalogues on various aspects of the College of Cardinals.  I visit this site daily.


The creator/webmaster of this site is David Cheney.  He presents his visitors with a constantly growing database on the dioceses, bishops and other ordinaries of the Roman Catholic Church. With more than 5,200 living bishops and thousands more who have passed on, this website needs the constant updating which its webmaster provides on a daily basis. It is a daunting task, for the appointment, ordination, transfer, and death of every bishop necessitates an update to the site. This is also a site which I visit every day.

Katholische Bischöfe in China

This website is the creation of Andreas Brender, an expert on the Roman Catholic bishops of China. It is an excellent website, providing biographical details of the bishops of China from the nomination of the first bishop up to the present, including the photos or portraits of many of the bishops. This site is a goldmine of information and I visit it often.

Die Apostolische Nachfolge

This website, created and maintained by Martin Wolters, provides an excellent overview to the structures of the Roman Catholic Church and its cardinals and bishops around the world, as well as the organisms of the Roman Curia and the major superiors of these dicasteries. It also provides information on the apostolic nunciatures and delegations maintained by the Holy See and their respective occupants. One can also find chronological lists of the nominations of bishops and cardinals from 1882 to the present and similar chronologies of their deaths from 1881 to the present. One section of the site is devoted to clandestine bishops appointed and ordained in various countries where the Church has undergone persecution from the twentieth century to the present. I always find something new and interesting when I visit this site.

Den Katolske Kirke

This website provides links to hundreds of the dioceses and other territorial jurisdictions of the Roman Catholic Church around the world. Created and maintained by Mats Tande, this site provides a readily accessible resource when one is looking for the website of a particular diocese. While the primary website is in Norwegian, readers are provided explanatory links in English, German, Portuguese, Polish, Italian, and French.  This is an excellent resource for the links to diocesan websites worldwide.  I use this site frequently.

The Order of Saint Benedict

This website is dedicated to providing information and resources on the Order of Saint Benedict. If you have an interest in the Benedictines, this is the first site to visit. Information on current activities of the various Benedictine congregations can be found by accessing the “What’s new” tab on the homepage. 

Other interesting websites

Monsignor Mercurio Maria Teresi  http://www.monsignorteresi.it/  is dedicated to the cause of the beatification and canonization of Archbishop Mercurio Maria Teresi, Archbishop of Monreale, Sicily, from 1802 to 1805. The life and works of this good prelate provide excellent reading.

Archbishop Teresi was ordained Archbishop of Monreale on 13 June 1802 in the Cathedral of Monreale by Bishop Francesco Vanni, Bishop of Cefalù, assisted by Archbishop Alfonso Airoldi, Titular Archbishop of Heraclea in Europa, and Bishop Gabriele Maria Gravina, Titular Bishop of Flavias. I wish to express my since thanks to Monsignor Saverio Ferina, Director of the Diocesan Historical Archives of the Archdiocese of Monreale, who was responsible for providing the information concerning Archbishop Teresi’s episcopal ordination as well as similar information concerning the episcopal ordination of Archbishop Teresi’s successor, Archbishop Domenico Benedetto Balsamo, O.S.B. To Monsignor Ferina: cordial saluti e tante grazie!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Missing Papal Episcopal Lineages

As of 28 August 2014, the episcopal lineages of all popes from Pope Eugene IV to Pope Francis have been posted on this site, with the exception of the following five, for whom we lack the details of their episcopal ordinations:

Pope Paul II (1464), Pietro Barbo, elected Bishop of Vicenza 16 June 1451

Pope Innocent VIII (1484), Giovanni Battista Cibo, elected Bishop of Savona 5 November 1466 and ordained bishop 28 January 1467

Pope Alexander VI (1492), Rodrigo de Borja y Borja, elected Bishop of Albano 30 August 1471, ordained priest 30 October 1471, and ordained bishop shortly thereafter.

Pope Gregory XIII (1572), Ugo Boncompagni, elected Bishop of Vieste 20 July 1558.

Pope Innocent IX (1591), Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti, elected Bishop of Nicastro 26 January 1560. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Books, Old and New

Scipione Rebiba - A Biography

Thanks to two priests of the Diocese of Patti, we finally have a biography of Scipione Rebiba.  Father Basilio Rinaudo, Rector of the Seminary of the Diocese of Patti and a native of San Marco d'Alunzio - the birthplace of Scipione Rebiba - and Father Salvatore Miracola, parish priest of San Marco d'Alunzio, have published an excellent biography of the bishop to whom more than 95 percent of the current world-wide hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church trace their episcopal lineages.

Il Cardinale Scipione Rebiba (1504 - 1577), Vita e azione pastorale di un vescovo riformatore (L'Ascesa, 2007; ISBN 978-88-903039-0-6) is a meticulously documented account of the life and pastoral activity of Cardinal Rebiba.  The authors have provided extensive footnotes in this two hundred page book which includes an eleven page bibliography as well as documentary and photographic appendices. 

While the book contains no new information on the episcopal ordination of Scipione Rebiba, it provides its readers with a wealth of information on his life and works. We learn that his family's origins are French and that he was born in San Marco (today called San Marco d'Alunzio).  As a young priest, he quickly became a preferred member of the ecclesiastical family of Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa, the future Pope Paul IV.  As a priest and bishop, he provided loyal and valuable service to Carafa both before and after Carafa's election to the See of Peter. Rebiba's fidelity and dedication to the Church never faltered.  He died at Rome on 23 July 1577 and is buried in the Church of San Silvestro al Quirinale.

This biography makes Scipione Rebiba more than just a name at the end of an episcopal lineage.  It tells the story of a good, faithful, zealous successor of the apostles.  

I thank the authors for providing us with this excellent work.  Molte grazie !!!

Ordering information may be obtained by contacting Father Rinaudo at:

Seminario Vescovile
via Magretti, 147
98066 Patti (Me)
Fax: (39) 0941 21591

Some new “old” books
In 1881, Dr Julian Pelesz, a priest of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Lviv of the Ukrainians, rector of the Greek Catholic Central Seminary in Vienna, and future Eparch of Stanislaviv (1885-1891) and of Przemysl (1891-1896) published Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom,  a history of the union of the Ruthenian and Ukrainian Churches with the Holy See.
This important historical work contains, among other data, the episcopal ordinations of Ukrainian, Ruthenian,  Romanian, and Croatian Byzantine bishops . 
Concerning the use of the name Ruthenian in the title of the book, it should be noted that both Ukrainian and Ruthenian eparchs and eparchies were regularly called Ruthenian in Roman documents prior to the twentieth century. 
This excellent work is available free on Google books:
Another new old book is Les Syriens catholiques et leur Patriarche Mgr Ant Samhiri published in 1855 by l'abbé Jean Mamarbaschi, the secretary of the Patriarchate of Antioch.  This small (24 page) book recounts the entry of the future Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians into full communion with the Holy See, as well as that of other Syrian Orthodox (then called Jacobite) bishops and faithful.   This book is also available for free download at:
Finally, we have a book written in 1852 by the Rev. George Percy Badger, an Anglican priest: The Nestorians and their Rituals (with the narrative of a mission to Mesopotamia and Coordistan in 1842-1844). This book describes the profession of faith of Archbishop Mar Youhannan VIII Hormizd, a future Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, who was ordained bishop on May 22, 1776 by his uncle Patriarch Eliya XII Denha.  This book is available at:
 I wish to thank Father Glen J. Pothier, DTh, JCL, Adjutant Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Palm Beach, for bringing these valuable works to my attention.  Father Pothier is tri-ritual (Latin, Ruthenian, and Melkite rites).  
 Recommended reading

Since the middle of the twentieth century, there have been many works on the episcopates of various nations and on the members of religious orders and congregations who have been raised to the episcopal dignity. 

Among the more recent additions to these works is a book on the College of Cardinals by Father Jean Le Blanc: Dictionnaire biographique des cardinaux du XIXe siècle. Contribution à l`histoire du Sacré-Collège sous les pontificats du Pie VII, Léon XII, Pie VIII, Grégoire XVI, Pie IX et Léon XIII. 1800 - 1903. (Wilson & Lafleur. Montréal. 2007. ISBN 978-2-89127-801-0).

This book contains a wealth of information on the cardinals of the nineteenth century. It is meticulously documented and is another example of the author`s superb works on the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. 

It is in the same style as his Dictionnaire biographique des évêques catholiques du Canada.  Les diocèses catholiques canadiens des Églises latine et orientales et leurs évêques; repères chronologiques et biographiques, 1658-2012 2e édition  (Wilson & Lafleur. Montréal.  2012.  ISBN 978-2-89689-006-4). 

Father LeBlanc`s Dictionnaire is the finest work on the Catholic bishops of Canada to date and it would be difficult for anyone to surpass his excellent work.  He has brought together in one place a wealth of information on the Canadian Catholic bishops. I highly recommend both of Father LeBlanc's books.

Monsignor Francis J. Weber, Archivist of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has gifted historians, both ecclesiastical and secular, and those who have an interest in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in California with numerous books, monographs, and articles on this area of church history. His published works are too numerous to list in this brief space, but his biographies of James Francis Cardinal McIntyre - His Eminence of Los Angeles. James Francis Cardinal McIntyre. 2 vols  St. Francis Historical Society.  Mission Hills, California.  1997 - and Timothy Cardinal Manning - Magnificat: The Life and Times of Timothy Cardinal Manning. Kimberly Press, Inc. Santa Barbara, California.  1999 - are among the finest biographies of twentieth century U. S. cardinals.  They would be excellent additions to the library of anyone interested in the College of Cardinals and the episcopate of the United States.

The late Cardinal Carlos Oviedo Cavada, O. de M., Archbishop of Santiago de Chile (1990-1998) was an historian of the Chilean episcopate and of his religious order, the Mercedarians.  He was the author of Los Obispos de Chile  1561-1978 (Santiago de Chile, 1979); Los Obispos de Chile (2d ed  Editorial Andrés Bello. Santiago de Chile. 1996); and Los Obispos Mercedarios (Santiago de Chile, 1981). His collaborative work Episcopologio Chileno 1561-1815 (4t. Santiago de Chile, 1992) provides an in-depth look at the Catholic Church in Chile and its bishops for that period. These are the seminal works on the Catholic bishops of Chile and on the Mercedarian bishops. 

Two late Spanish priests have provided us with three episcopologios of the Church in Spain for the years 1500 to 1985. Monsignor Lamberto de Echeverría published his Episcopologio Español Contemporáneo (1868-1985) in Salamanca in 1986. Father Vidal Guitarte Izquierdo, a former student of Lamberto de Echeverría, gave us Episcopologio Español (1700-1867) (Castellón, 1992) and Episcopologio Español (1500-1699) (Castellón, 1994). These three works chronicle the episcopal ordinations of the bishops of and from Spain for a period of almost five centuries.

A book on Colombian bishops

Recently I was privileged to receive a copy of a book dedicated to Colombian bishops associated with the Department of Antioquia, Colombia.  Doctor Ricardo Zuluaga Gil is the author of Antioquia y el Episcopado, published in 2011 by the Centro de Historia del Municipio de San Vicente Ferrer. 

Doctor Zuluaga Gil is a lawyer, Doctor of Law from the University of Salamanca, Titular Professor of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, a corresponding member of the Academia Antiqueña de Historia, and of the Academia Colombiana de Historia Eclesiástica.   His outstanding gifts of intellect are apparent as one peruses this interesting work.

The author has gathered together in one volume a wealth of documentation on the development of the Catholic Church in Antioquia as well as key biographical information on the bishops who have been responsible for the evangelization of this region.

I thank Doctor Zuluaga Gil for authoring this important work on the bishops of Colombia..

Zuluaga Gil, Ricardo
Antioquia y el Episcopado
San Vicente, Colombia

ISBN: 978-958-44-9516-7

An impressive work on Augustinian bishops

The year 2014 has seen the publication of a monumental, three volume work on the bishops and cardinals of the several Augustinian orders.  Professor Rafael Lazcano has given church historians a well-documented biographical and bibliographical study of Augustinian bishops. Episcopologio Agustiniano brings together the bishops of the Order of Saint Augustine (O.S.A.), the Recollect Augustinian Order (O.A.R.), the Discalced Augustinian Order (O.A.D.), the Discalced Augustinian Order of Portugal (A.D.P.), which became extinct in 1834, and the Augustinians of the Assumption (A.A.), also known as the Assumptionists. 

Professor Lazcano includes cardinals, bishops, bishops-elect (those who refused the episcopate and those who died before they could receive episcopal ordination), and priests who were presented for the episcopate but who were not preconized by the Roman Pontiff.  He also includes papal sacristans, most of whom were named bishops.  The office of papal sacristan was confided to members of the Order of Saint Augustine (O.S.A.).  Others included in this work are priests who exercised jurisdiction as local ordinaries withoIut the episcopal character: apostolic prefects territorial prelates (also known as prelates nullius), and apostolic administrators. 

Episcopologio Agustiniano is as impressive as is its author. Professor Lazcano is known for his extensive knowledge of the Augustinians and for the quality of his published works. He is the editor of the new edition of España Sagrada and is the author of important biographies of Martin Luther, Gregor Mendel, and Blessed Anna Katharina Emmerick.  Professor Lazcano served as director of the Colegio Mayor Universitario San Agustín of Madrid (1997 to 2001); founder and director of Editorial Agustiniana (1988 to 2001); and director of Revista Agustiniana (1993 to 2001).  His Wikipedia entry is long and impressive:

Each volume contains dozens of color plates with portraits and maps.  This work is arranged in alphabetical order by dioceses (residential and titular) and other territorial jurisdictions. The author clearly explains the scope and the limits of the work. Each entry presents the name of the bishop and information on his life before and after elevation to the episcopate. A bibliography completes each entry. 

Each volume costs 73 euro. Information on ordering these volumes can be found at the following site:

This beautiful work would be a welcome addition to the library of anyone interested in the episcopate.   

I also recommend a visit to Professor Lazcano's blog where one can peruse many interesting posts and other fine articles he has written.      Rafael Lazcano

Sunday, August 24, 2014


This blog is the successor to my previous website, Apostolic Succession in the Roman Catholic Church. My previous website will cease to exist in late September 2014 due to the discontinuation of website hosting by my internet provider. Over the following days and weeks I will migrate information and episcopal lineages from the old site to this blog.  

My name is Charles Bransom. I have been engaged in research on apostolic succession and episcopal lineages for almost fifty years, in collaboration with colleagues in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.  I have amassed a large data base on the episcopal ordinations of Roman Catholic bishops going back more than five centuries. 

My published works include Ordinations of U. S. Catholic Bishops, 1790-1989 (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1990); "Philippine Episcopology" (Boletin Eclesiastico de Filipinas); "Franciscan Bishops" (Franciscan Studies), "Sons of Don Bosco, Successors of the Apostles, Salesian Bishops" (Journal of Salesian Studies, Vol. XII, n. 1, 2001), and "Les ordinations épiscopales des évêques oblats" (Vie Oblate Life, Avril/April 2000).  I am the editor and publisher of the Revue des Ordinations Épiscopales (ISSN 1077-4459) which was founded in 1994. I have composed the episcopal lineages for more than one thousand bishops around the world. 


More than ninety five percent of the approximately 5,135 Roman Catholic bishops alive today trace their episcopal lineage back to one bishop who was appointed in 1541 - Scipione Rebiba. Why so many bishops trace their lineages to this one bishop can be explained in great part by the intense sacramental activity of Pope Benedict XIII, who ordained at least 159 bishops during his episcopate and pontificate, including many cardinals, papal diplomats, and bishops of important dioceses who, in turn, ordained many other bishops. The bishop who ordained Benedict XIII gives us the direct link to Scipione Rebiba. It is widely believed that Rebiba was ordained bishop by Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa, who became Pope Paul IV. However, no documentary evidence has been found to verify this hypothesis.

The lack of documentation of the episcopal ordination for the last bishop in any episcopal lineage should not be considered as evidence that the lineage ends with that bishop or that the bishop in question never received episcopal ordination.  It simply means that the details of that bishop's episcopal ordination have not yet been found and that the bishop in question is the last known bishop in that lineage.

A word of caution regarding episcopal lineages: until 1965 the lineages prepared for many bishops showed Pope Alexander VII as the ordaining bishop of Cardinal Paluzzo Altieri in 1666, and those lineages went back to the early 1400`s. In the mid 1960`s, a contemporary account of Cardinal Altieri`s episcopal ordination was found in the Gazette de France. This account revealed that Pope Alexander VII became ill shortly before the ceremony and was replaced by Cardinal Ulderico Carpegna. Any episcopal lineage which gives Pope Alexander VII as the consecrator of Cardinal Altieri is incorrect.


The other active lineages include the d'Estouteville line, ending in 1440; the von Bodman lineage, which ends in 1686; the Ravizza line (1667); and the de Bovet line (1789).

The d'Estouteville line was previously called the della Rovere line, ending between 1479 and 1483, and prior to that it was called the Gesualdo line which ended in 1564 with Alfonso Gesualdo. The identity of Cardinal Gesualdo`s consecrator was discovered and that discovery allowed the extension of this lineage back to Pope Julius II. Now the consecrator of Giuliano della Rovere has been discovered and the line extends to 1440 and Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville, O.S.B.

Recently the consecrator of Cardinal Verissimo de Lencastre has been discovered and the name of his line has been changed to the Ravizza line which ends, for the moment, in 1667.  The identity of Cardinal de Lencastre's consecrator was found in the papers of the late m. Jean Montier, one of the first of the modern episcopologists.  

The Maronite, Greek Melkite, Chaldean, and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churches account for the majority of Eastern Catholic lineages. However, there are several Eastern Catholic bishops who belong to the Rebiban succession and there are some Roman-rite bishops who belong to the Maronite and Chaldean lineages. 


The line of succession known as la Chaîne Polonaise - la ligne Rangoni (the Rangoni line), formerly known as la Chaîne Polonaise - the Uchanski line - has become part of the Rebiban line. 
A correspondent on the Italian Catholic forum Cattolici Romani alerted me to an article on the consecration of Bishop Claudio Rangoni of Reggio Emilia and Professor Giuseppe Giovanelli, editor of "Memoria Ecclesiae" provided me with a copy of the article.  My thanks to both of them for their kind assistance.

Father Roberto Fornaciari, OSB Cam, is the author of "Notizie sulla Elezione e Consacrazione del Vescovo Claudio Rangone" which was published in the December 13, 2008 issue of "Memoria Ecclesiae", the historical supplement of the Reggio Emilia diocesan weekly newspaper La Libertà.
Thanks to Father Fornaciari`s research, we now know that Bishop Claudio Rangoni of Reggio Emilia was ordained bishop on 10 January 1593 in Rome, in the chapel of the Palazzo, by his uncle Cardinal Girolamo Bernerio, O.P., Bishop of Ascoli, assisted by the Archbishop of Spalato, Giovanni Domenico Malcoto detto Foconio, O.P., and the Bishop of Como, Feliciano Ninguarda, O.P. 
Father Fornaciari has made his study available on the website of the Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose "Beato Gregorio X" di Arezzo:

Coming from the ranks of the nobility of Modena, Claudio Rangoni was named Bishop of Reggio Emilia on 16 December 1592 and was Apostolic Nuncio to Poland from 1598 to 1607.  He died on 2 September 1621.
Episcopologists had believed that Wawrzyniec Gembicki, Bishop of Chelmno, had received episcopal ordination in 1601 from the hands of Archbishop Stanislaw Karnkowski of Gniezno and we knew that Archbishop Karnkowski had been ordained Bishop of Wloclawek on 25 January 1568 by Archbishop Jakub Uchanski of Gniezno.  

Thanks to the eminent historian of the Polish episcopate, Dr Krzysztof Rafal Prokop, we found that Bishop Wawrzyniec Gembicki was not consecrated by Archbishop Karnkowski, but by Bishop Claudio Rangoni, Bishop of Reggio Emilia and Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, on Laetare Sunday, the first of April 1601.

Dr. Prokop gives a detailed account in his recently published Stan badan nad problematyka sakr biskupich XVI- i XVII-wiecznych metropolitów gnieznienskich, Studia Gnesnensia XXIII (2009) 315-316. 

Interestingly, there was another bishop by the same name, also from the nobility of Modena, who was a contemporary of this bishop of Reggio Emilia. The second Claudio Rangoni was named Bishop of Piacenza on 2 December 1596 and died on 15 September 1619. 

I wish to express my congratulations to Father Fornaciari on the publication of his article.  Likewise, I wish to express my sincere thanks to Father Fornaciari for his diligent research which has provided us with the details of the episcopal ordination of Bishop Claudio Rangoni of Reggio Emilia.

At the same time, my sincere thanks to Dr Krzysztof Rafal Prokop for his diligent research which revealed that Bishop Wawrzyniec Gembicki was consecrated by Bishop Rangoni and for his other excellent research on the Polish episcopate.  I cannot fail to thank two others who are responsible for the research on the line of succession from Pope Pius XI back to the Polish bishops in the seventeenth century:  Hofrat Dr. Manfred Dieter Kierein of Vienna, Austria, and Brother Josef Grünstäudl, S.M., of Tragwein, Austria.


The little known Balkan-Ukrainian-Ruthenian line came to an end on December 6, 2008 with the death of Bishop Ivan Semedi, Bishop emeritus of Mukachevo.  This line has been traced back to Archbishop Athanasius of Achrida who made a profession of faith around the year 1660.  He ordained Archbishop Onofrio Costantini of Derbe in 1665 and this line of succession was passed on first to bishops of Italo-Albanian origin who ministered in the Balkans, eventually counting several bishops of the Eparchies of Presov, Hajdudorog, and Mukachevo, including Blessed Theodore Romzha, the martyred Apostolic Administrator of Mukachevo, and several clandestinely ordained bishops, among them Bishop Semedi.