Cardinal Patriarch Marco Cornaro (B-61)

Born: 1482, Venice

Died: 26 July 1524

CARDINAL PATRIARCH MARCO CORNARO was one of the six sons of the powerful and fabulously wealthy Venetian leader Cav. Proc. Giorgio Cornaro (B-29), who was the brother of Queen Caterina Cornaro (B-31) and progenitor of the family's Cornaro della Regina branch. Three of Cav. Proc. Giorgio's sons entered the clergy, two rising to the level of Cardinal and one to Archbishop. Each of the other three sons sired a line of the family that was to sustain the wealth and power of the Cornaro della Regina branch of the family for generations.

In part through judicious use of the family's enormous wealth, Marco moved quickly to an influential position in the Church. He was elevated to the office of Cardinal, 28 September 1500. In the same year he received S. Maria in Portico and later came into possession of the abbeys of S. Zeno at Verona, of Carrara at Padua, and of Vidor at Trevignano. He became Canon of Padua, 1501, and Bishop of Verona, 1506. In about 1505 Marco commissioned creation of the famous illuminated manuscript that has become known as the Cornaro Missal.

In the wake of Venice's defeat by the united forces of the League of Cambrai at Agnadello, 1609, Cardinal Patriarch Marco played an important role in Venice's diplomatic counterattack. He succeeded in causing the Pope to lift the excommunication of the Venetians, thereby opening the way for peace between Venice and the Papacy. In 1517 he became Bishop of Padua.

In a speech in 1521 the famous Venetan orator and actor known as Il Ruzante declared that Marco was not a "great" man; he was a good man with a great heart. Marco is one of the Cornaro cardinals honored in a monument at the Church of SS. Salvatore.

Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani [Biographical Dictionary of Italians] (Rome, 1983) indicates that Cardinal Patriarch Marco was a patron of the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, but does not identify specific commissioned works.

In the period from 1500 to 1789 nine members of the Cornaro family served as Cardinal, for a combined total of 150 years of service.


1997-9 C. I. Gable