Pope Clement XI and the Albani Family
The Arberesh: the Christian Albanian emigration to Italy
by GIOVANNI ARMILLOTTA
Year CXLI - N 139 (42.777), Vatican City,Wednesday, June 20, 2001
Pope Clement XI and the Albani Family
The ongoing objective of Clement XI (Gian Francesco Albani, b. 1649, 1700-21) to unify Christianity had significant results in Albania where the Catholic and Orthodox churches were united for a period of time. Clement XI, after becoming aware of his Albanian origins, became very interested in the political and religious rebirth of his fatherland. During this period the "First Albanian National Council" (1703) took place which decisively proclaimed clerical guidelines relative to dogmatic, moral, canon and pastoral questions. Meanwhile there was good news even for the orthodox church. After a first attempt to arrive at some sort of unification did not work, a second attempt was made to establish archbishoprics in Ocrida and Skopje. From 1628, a mission of Byzantine rite had already taken hold in Himara. In the 18th century in the northeastern and central areas of Albania appeared the phenomena of crypto-Christianity, which is present even in our time (in particular during the Enverist period). Among those who embraced Islam, many preferred the sect that was the most heterodox and closer to Christianity - the Bektashi.
The Albani family was founded by two Albanian brothers, George and Fillip of Michele deí Lazi, previously fighters under Skenderbeg. They found refuge in Urbino, where Federico and Guidobaldo from Montefeltro entrusted them with diplomatic matters during wartime. They took the last name"Albanesi" that Altobello (1445-1564) son of George, changed to "Albani." The Albani family, besides Clement XI, produced other illustrious personages -- cardinals, diplomats, and important statesmen: Giovanni Girolamo, (1509-91), cardinal, vice commander of armed forces of the Serenissima Republic, in two conclaves candidate in Soglio di Pietro, stereograph and personal judicial consultant of Gregorio XIII (1572-85) and Sisto V (1585-90); Orazio (1576-1653): diplomat, appointed senator of Rome by Urbano VIII (1623-44); Anibale (1682-1751): canon of St. Peter, president of the Apostolic Council, secretary of Memoriali, cardinal (1711) and extraordinary diplomatic representative in Vienna, where he worked for the ratification of the election of Emperor Carlo VI (1711-40), representative of St. Romana church, arch-priest in Vatican Basilica, bishop of Sabina and then of Porto and Santa Rufina, vice doyen at the Sacred College; Alessandro (1692-1779); at the age of fifteen colonel of the armed pontificate who gave up a military career, secretary of Memoriali, correspondent in Vienna, cardinal (1721), librarian in St. Romana church, Austrian ambassador in Rome, protector of the Sardinian kingdom, protector and friend of Winckelmann, constructor of the Albani Villa, and an extraordinary patron; Gian Francesco (1720-1803) cardinal (1753), protector of Polish Affairs, participated in the negotiation with Caterina II (1762-93) to regulate the situation of Catholics in Russia, bishop of Sabina then of Porto and Santa Rufina until in 1775 when he became doyen of the Sacred College, bishop in Ostia and Valletri, defender of the Pontific State against the French revolution and supporter of the election of Clement XIII (1758-1769) and Pius VII (1800-23); Giuseppe (1750-1834): representative of the counsel of Pius VI (1755-99), was sent to Vienna to get the blessed strip for the baptism of archbishop Ferdinando who afterwards became Emperor (1833-48), cardinal (1801), protector of the Austrian Empire, pre-secretary of Brevi and the League of Bologna, Secretary of State for Pius VIII (1829-30), librarian in Santa Romana church, bishop of Urbino and legate of Pesaro and Urbino. In 1852 the family tree was extended with Filippo. In the East, we find another great Albanian family of royal vizirs of the Ottoman Empire, contemporaries of the Albani in XVII-XVIII century: the Kepryly (Koprulu).
Even before Clement XI, we find there were three other pontiffs of Albanian origin: Saint Eleutherius, (175-189), Saint Caius, (283-296) and John IV (640-642).
General Yearbook of the Italian towns and villages. ICI Milan, 1980; (Pontific Yearbookî, Editorial Libraries, Vatican City, 1999, p. 1161; Giuseppe Castellani (dir), History of Religion, UTET, Turin, 1971, 6th ed, vol. IV, p. 645; Catholic Encyclopedia, Vatican City, 1948, vol. 1, pp. 636-50, Italian Encyclopedia, Rome 1949, vol. II, p. 92; Vincenzo Fucci, On the Origins of Albanians of St. Giorgio Lucano, "Basillicata Region ñ News", Potenza, n. 1, 1996, p. 79-84 Hubert Jedin (dir), History of the Church, Juca Book, Milan, 1993, 2nd ed, vol. IX, P. 445-6, Allan Kruja, Kosovo, The Survival of a People, The right historic causes of a conflict, Illiria Edition, Rimini, 2000, 2nd ed, p. 52-4, ìLibertyî, Piacenza, August 22, 1990; Angelo Masci, discussions on Albanians of the Naples kingdom (1807) Marco Lungro, 1990; Mona, Pelzer (dirr), Ecclesiastical Dictionary, UTET, Turin, 1953, vol 1, p. 76; Bruno Pancini, A minority of Albanian origins in the province of Piacenza? Credible research conducted at the end of 400 or at the beginning of 500 shed light on the settlement of two family trees: the Toscs and the Albanians, "Albanian Reality", Rome I (1990), n. 1 April, p. 23-4; Ivana Tanga, The story of the Albanian community in Ivi, Italy. p. 24.
Frosina thanks Franka Misho for her translation from the original Italian into English