Rafael Merry del Val (1865-1930) was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who had one of the most dazzling careers in ecclesiastical history: he was a secret supernumerary chamberlain at the age of 21, a secret participating chamberlain at the age of 26, an apostolic delegate to Canada at age 31, president of the Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles and archbishop at age 34, secretary of state for Pius X (1903-1914) and cardinal at age 38, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and prefect of the Fabric of St. Peter at age 48, secretary of the Congregation of the Holy Office at age 49. In 1953, his beatification process was introduced to the Congregation for Rites.
In this study, Philippe Roy-Lysencourt presents the life of this personage, his curial charges, his relations with the popes he served (Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, and Pius XI), his apostolate, his unexpected death and the furor it caused.
The book includes an inventory of sources for understanding Cardinal Merry del Val’s life, a list of his published writings, as well as a bibliography of the works written about him.
"In this concise, well-researched biography, Philippe Roy-Lysencourt offers a nuanced and balanced panorama of Cardinal Merry del Val’s life. Avoiding the hagiographical pitfalls that often characterize accounts of the life of Pius X’s secretary of state, Roy-Lysencourt conveys the image of a man whose ‘dazzling career in the Curia’ under Pius X was not sidelined under the pontificates of Benedict XV and Pius XI, as is often portrayed. Described as a very modest man and a saint by Pope Pius X, he enjoyed a ‘courteous and deferential relationship’ with Benedict XV and Pius XI, the latter of whom was deeply saddened by the untimely death of the cardinal. An abundance of lively details, coupled with the author’s masterly use of primary sources, makes this little biography enjoyable and informative reading."~Agnes de Dreuzy, author of The Holy See and the Emergence of the Modern Middle East: Benedict XV’s Diplomacy in Greater Syria (1914-1922)