Decio Carafa


Decio Carafa
Archbishop of Naples
SeeSanta Maria Assunta
Term ended1626
PredecessorOttavio Acquaviva d'Aragona (seniore)
SuccessorFrancesco Boncompagni
Other postspapal nuncio
Created cardinal17 August 1611
Personal details
Born1556 (1556)
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
DiedJanuary 23, 1626(1626-01-23) (aged 69–70)
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
BuriedNaples Cathedral

Decio Carafa (1556–1626) was an Archbishop of Naples who had previously served as papal nuncio to the Spanish Netherlands (1606–1607) and to Habsburg Spain (1607–1611).


Carafa was born in Naples in 1556, the son of Ottaviano Carafa, lord of Cerza Piccola, by Marzia Mormile. Trained to the clergy, he became an apostolic notary and domestic prelate in the Roman curia.[1]

He served on a papal mission to Portugal in 1598–1605, after which Pope Paul V appointed him to the titular see of Damascus on 17 May 1606 and papal nuncio to Flanders on 12 June. He left Rome on 9 July, reached Brussels on 1 September, and was received in audience by the ruling Archdukes Albert and Isabella on 6 September 1606.[2]

Carafa served in Flanders for only eight months, his main concern being to encourage the negotiations that led to the Twelve Years' Truce (1609–1621) temporarily ending the Eighty Years' War. In May 1607 he was transferred to Spain, arriving in Madrid on 25 July. He was received in audience by Philip III of Spain on 3 August 1607. In 1609 he convinced Francisco Suarez to write against the claims of James VI and I regarding the 1606 Oath of Allegiance. In 1610 he played a role in dissuading Philip III from making war on France over French claims in the Rhineland and Italy, and encouraging the negotiations that led to the marriage of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria.[3] From day to day he represented papal interests in the ongoing implementation of Tridentine reform in Spain.[4]

On 17 August 1611 he was created cardinal and recalled from Madrid. He did not leave Madrid until January 1612, after his successor's arrival, and was received by the pope on 2 April. On 7 January 1613 he was appointed archbishop of Naples, taking possession of the diocese by procuration on 8 May. He arrived in Naples only two years later, in May 1615.

As archbishop he held three diocesan synods, in 1619, 1622 and 1623, to improve clerical discipline and the fitting celebration of the liturgy. He issued decrees against excesses in ecclesiastical painting and music. He spent a great deal of money on restoring the interior of Naples Cathedral in the Baroque style. He also restored and enlarged the archiepiscopal palace.

As a cardinal, he took part in the conclaves of 1621, that elected Pope Gregory XV, and 1623, that elected Pope Urban VIII.

He died in Naples on 23 January 1626 and was buried in the cathedral.


  1. ^ Georg Lutz, "Carafa, Decio", Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 19 (1976).
  2. ^ Carafa's correspondence as nuncio in Brussels has been calendared in the Analecta Vaticano-Belgica, as Correspondance du nonce Decio Carafa, archevêque de Damas, 1606-1607, edited by L. Van Meerbeeck (Brussels and Rome, 1979).
  3. ^ Georg Lutz, "Carafa, Decio", Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 19 (1976).
  4. ^ Carafa's correspondence as nuncio in Madrid has been calendared in Correspondencia entre la nunciatura en España y la Santa Sede: Reinado de Felipe III, 1598-1621, edited by J. de Olarra Garmendia and M. L. de Larramendi (4 vols., Rome, 1960-1964).
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Ferdinando Taverna
Apostolic Collector to Portugal
1598 – 1604
Succeeded by
Modernus Caracciolo Piscizi
Preceded by
Robert Berthelot
Archbishop of Damascus
1606 – 1613
Succeeded by
Francesco Sacrati (cardinal)
Preceded by
Ottavio Acquaviva d'Aragona (seniore)
Archbishop of Naples
1613 – 1626
Succeeded by
Francesco Boncompagni
Preceded by
Ottavio Mirto Frangipani
Apostolic Nuncio to Flanders
1606 – 1607
Succeeded by
Guido Bentivoglio
Preceded by
Giovanni Garzia Millino
Apostolic Nuncio to Spain
1607 – 1611
Succeeded by
Antonio Caetani (iuniore)