Vincent Caraffa General # 7

General from 1645 to 1649



To the noble and venerable Caraffa family of Naples on May 9, 1585 a son was born whom they named Vincent. He was the third son of the Duke of Andria. Francis Geronimo the Jesuit of southern Italy who had established a reputation as a giver of popular parish missions, found a ready and capable collaborator in the young Vincent.

Under the influence of Francis, Vincent entered the Society and after ordination taught Philosophy and gave popular missions under the tutelage of Francis. He directed a group of Nobles in doing social work, so that it became the central point of the whole region for social action and charitable work in the Naples area. By the time Vitelleschi died in 1645, Caraffa had become Provincial of Naples and the 8th General Congregation was called to convene on November 21, 1645. The 61year-old Neapolitan noble, Vincent Caraffa, was elected to be its 7th General with 52 votes out of 88.

His attraction for social work never left him and as General he was known for his charity to the sick and poor, evidently in the footsteps of Ignatius, himself. During the plague and famine experienced in Rome in the years 1648-1649, Caraffa, himself, became personally involved in feeding the hungry and caring for the poor and plague-stricken. In 1624 he had made a vow to seize every opportunity to assist the sick and lowly. Thus occupied for several months, he, himself, contracted the plague from those he had served so selflessly. After a mere 3 years and 5 months as General he died on June 8, 1649. He has been recognized for his holiness and he has left behind writings in Spiritual Direction, written under the pseudonym Luigi Sidereo. His holy remains were devoutly laid in the ossuary in the crypt of the Gesú.