'Henry IX' 1807-2007
Today is the bicentenary of the death of Cardinal Henry Stuart, brother of 'Bonnie Prince Charlie', Stuart claimnant to the British Throne (1788-1807) and popular Bishop of Frascati. In fact, the day of his death, 13 July 1807, was the 46th anniversary of his enthronement as Cardinal Bishop of that See. In the revised calendar, of course, it is the feast of St Henry the Emperor (though this was originally 15 July).
The Cardinal has left his mark in and around the Eternal City more than any of the other English Cardinals. His coat of arms can be found in Santa Maria in Trastevere and his monument stands proudly at the back of St Peter’s. There is a Largo Duca di York in Frascati and a Via di Cardinal di York near a villa that still bears his name in the Riserva Naturale della Valle dei Casali, to the west of Rome. Throughout the Castelli area there are numerous plaques in churches and on streets witnessing to his munificent patronage. In the little town of Monte Porzio, for example, there is a tablet on the Via Giuseppe Verdi recording the school he established in 1773 for ‘the education of young girls in piety and the useful arts’. A stone’s throw away in the duomo of San Gregorio Magno inscriptions recall the dedication ceremonies at which he pontificated in 1766 and the translation of the relics of the martyr, St Laconilla, which he organised in 1783. The Cardinal is indeed remembered as the benemerito Cardinale Tuscolano (‘well-loved cardinal of Frascati’).
With his death, the House of Stuart came to an end. The de jure Crown passed to his second cousin twice removed, Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy, who was noted for his piety and ended his days in a Jesuit novitiate. After lying in state at the Palazzo Cancelleria, ‘Henry IX’ was buried at St Peter's together with his father ('James III') and brother. A monument by Antonio Canova was later placed near the entrance of the basilica, which was paid for partly by the Prince Regent. The bodies were placed in the crypt and moved slightly to the east in 1938 to make way for the eventual tomb of Pius XI. This time the new tomb was financed by George VI.
May he rest in peace!