Lista degli Inquisitori di Sicilia (1738-1782)

Dizionario di eretici, dissidenti e inquisitori nel mondo mediterraneo
Edizioni CLORI | Firenze | ISBN 978-8894241600 | DOI 10.5281/zenodo.1309444

List of Inquisitors of the Sicilian Inquisition (1738-1782)

For an history of the Inquisition in Sicily see:
For a list of Inquisitors from 1500 to 1738 see:

Sicilian Inquisition was created as independent entity by Pope Clement XII in 1738. It was previously one of the local tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition for almost two and half century.

Spain lost control over the Kingdom of Sicily in 1713, but the inquisitorial tribunal with the seat in Palermo remained formally a part of the Spanish Inquisition for the next 25 years. Under the rule of the House of Savoy (1713–1720) the Council of Supreme and General Inquisition in Madrid (Suprema) still exercised the effective control over Sicilian tribunal. The situation changed only when the Island fell under control of Austrian Habsburgs in 1720. The Emperor Charles VI still considered himself a lawful king of Spain and created in Vienna some kind of „Spanish governement in exile”, which included also the Council of the Inquisition with bishop Juan Navarro as it head with the title of Inquisitor General of Spain (in opposition to the Inquisitor General residing in Madrid)1. Pope Clement XI (1700–1721) officially recognised this dualism and Sicilian tribunal became the only provincial tribunal subordinated to this „schismatic” Council of the Spanish Inquisition residing in Vienna. But in 1734 Charles VI lost Sicily to Charles Sebastian Bourbon, duke of Parma and Piacenza, who became king of Sicily and Naples in 1735. The new king did not agree for any foreign control over the local inquisitorial tribunal and tried to secure its independance. He was successful in these efforts and by the breve of 3 October 1738 Pope Clement XII finally created independent Sicilian Inquisition with its own Inquisitor General, thus ending almost two decades of maintaining the fiction of its belonging to the structures of Spanish Inquisition.

The new Inquisition was organized in January 1739, when the papal breve was published in Sicily. It was composed of two tribunals:
• Supreme Tribunal, headed by Inquisitor General, with Inquisitor fiscal (prosecutor) as his assistant, as well as lower officials
• provincial Tribunal, composed of three Inquisitors, as well as lower officials

Inquisitor General was always in the rank of bishop or archbishop. King designated the candidate for this post, but the formal appointment was made by the Pope.

Out of ten provincial Inquisitors appointed between 1739 and 1767, four died in office (Antonino Franchina, Giovanni Maria Giusino, Giovanni Montoja and Emmanuele Cangiamila), two were promoted to the episcopate (Michele Schiavo in 1766, Niccolo Ciafaglione in 1780), three voluntarily resigned the office, and the one lost it due to the final suppression of the Inquisition in 17822.

Inquisitor fiscal of Supreme Tribunal was considered inferior in rank to provincial Inquisitors. All provincial Inquisitors appointed after 1739 were promoted directly from the post of Inquisitor fiscal of Supreme Tribunal. Only three Inquisitori fiscali of Supreme Tribunal never became provincial Inquisitors, but two of them were promoted directly to the episcopate (Francesco Testa in 1748 and Giambattista Alangona in 1773; the former one became later Inquisitor General), while the third of them (Antonino Cavaleri) was simply in office at the time of suppression of the Inquisition in 1782, which made such promotion no longer possible3.

Inquisitors General of Sicily

  • Pietro Galletti (3 October 1738 – resigned 28 June 1742), bishop of Catania, †1757
  • Giacomo Bonanno CRT (28 June 1742 – died 14 January 1754), bishop of Patti and later archbishop of Monreale in 1753
  • Francesco Testa (25 May 1754 – died 17 May 1773), archbishop of Monreale
  • vacancy (1773-1776)
  • Salvatore Ventimiglia (12 February 1776 – 16 March 1782), archbishop of Nicomedia, †1797

Prosecutors (Inquisitori fiscali) of Supreme Tribunal

  • Giovanni Montoja (1739-1742), became provincial Inquisitor
  • Angiolo Serio (1742-1744), became provincial Inquisitor
  • Francesco Testa (1744-1748), became bishop of Siracuse 1748, then archbishop of Monreale and Inquisitor General in 1754
  • Giovanni di Giovanni (1748-1750), became provincial Inquisitor
  • Michele Schiavo (1750-1752), became provincial Inquisitor
  • Emmanuele Cangiamila (1752-1755), became provincial Inquisitor
  • Niccolo Ciafaglione (1755-1763), became provincial Inquisitor
  • Giacinto Maria Paterno (1763-1767), became provincial Inquisitor
  • Giambattista Alagona (1767-1773), became bishop of Siracuse, †1801
  • vacancy (1773-1776)
  • Antonino Cavaleri (1776-1782), bishop of Eritrea from 1764, became archbishop of Agrigento in 1788, †1792

Provincial Inquisitors

  • Antonino Franchina (17394-1779), †1779
  • Fortunio Ventimiglia (1739-1744), †1758
  • Giovanni Maria Giusino (1739-1741), †1741
  • Giovanni Montoja (1742-1755), †1755
  • Angiolo Serio (1744-1750), †1766
  • Giovanni di Giovanni (1750-1752), †1753
  • Michele Schiavo (1752-1766), became bishop of Mazara, †1775
  • Emmanuele Cangiamila (1755-1763), †1763
  • Niccolo Ciafaglione (1763-1780), became archbishop of Messina, †1789
  • Giacinto Maria Paterno (1767-1782), †1783


  • Diari della città di Palermo dal secolo XVI al XIX, ed. Gioacchino Di Marzo, Palermo, L.P. Lauriel, vol. XII-XVII, 1874-1879.
  • Antonino Franchina, Breve rapporto del tribunale della ss. Inquisizione di Sicilia, Regia Stamperia, Palermo 1744.
  • Marina Torres Arces, Inquisición, jurisdiccionalismo y reformismo borbónico. El tribunal de Sicilia en el siglo XVIII, in “Hispania Revista Española de Historia”, 229, 2008, pp. 375-406.

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et tamen e summo, quasi fulmen, deicit ictos
invidia inter dum contemptim in Tartara taetra
invidia quoniam ceu fulmine summa vaporant
plerumque et quae sunt aliis magis edita cumque

[Lucretius, "De rerum natura", lib. V]


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