Giovanni Marchetti was born in 1753 and was appointed titular archbishop of Ancyra in 1814, then secretary for the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars at the end of 1825. In the course of his first meeting with him on December 6, 1825, Father de Mazenod wrote in his diary: “I went to the Quirinal Palace to meet the renowned Archbishop Marchetti of Ancyra. He is a remarkable prelate for knowledge and zeal of which he has given constant proof. During the time of Pius VII he was one of the missionaries who preached in public squares. […] He is the author of several works and, even though he is seventy-four or seventy-five years old, continues to work, mainly on the controversy with the Gallicans whose opinions he does not like.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 17, no. 6, p. 43).
Bishop Marchetti was the one whom the Founder visited most frequently in Rome in 1825-1826 and with whom he worked. At that time, he met with him at least twenty one times and was always kindly received. He quite often complained about about the slowness to act of certain Romans, but he never ceased praising the accessibility and the dedication of Bishop Marchetti. Father de Mazenod was received in audience by the Pope on December 20 and convinced him that it was not enough to simply praise the rule, but it needed to be approved. Bishop Marchetti had an audience with the Pope a few days later and readily acceded to the will of the Pope who spoke about the Founder “in the most satisfying, not to say flattering, manner.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 214, p. 226)
At the beginning of the month of January 1826, Father de Mazenod learned that Bishop Arbaud, the bishop of Gap and the other bishops who had given him letters of recommendation had written to Rome to voice their opposition to the approbation of the Rules. In the course of a visit to Bishop Marchetti, the bishop, who was an opponent of Gallicanism, rejected the conclusions of the bishop of Gap. Instead of proving to be an obstacle, this letter worked in favour of approbation. In Rome, it was considered important to assert Rome’s authority.
Bishop Marchetti was present at the meeting of the three cardinals who approved the Rule on February 15. On the evening of February 15, Father de Mazenod worked with him for two hours in order to make the corrections in the text required by the commission. The work continued the next day. On February 18, it was the Archbishop of Ancyra again who announced that the Pope had approved the Rule the day before. After having spent three days recopying the corrected text, the Founder delivered it to the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars and wrote to Father Tempier on February 27: “It is impossible to be nicer than this excellent Archbishop of Ancyra. He receives me with a friendliness and goodness that are charming.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 227, p. 44) Preparation of the brief took several weeks and Bishop Marchetti intervened to see that, at the secretariat for briefs, the matter was dealt with as expeditiously as possible.
On March 20, the Founder told Father Tempier how astonished people in Rome were at the rapidity with which he obtained approbation of the Rule. He attributed a great deal of this especially to Leo XII, but to Bishop Marchetti as well who acted “to support the Pope; in all his audiences, he converses about us with the Holy Father always in the most favourable manner.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 231, p. 66)
Bishop Marchetti died in 1829. Bishop de Mazenod mentions him only twice more during his lifetime, in particular in a July 21, 1852 letter to Cardinal Gousset to tell him that the Archbishop of Ancyra had been his friend, one who was an opponent of Gallicanism but at the same time a defender of the traditions of the church of France.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.