Parental consent

135x170mm
Fondo Provincia Romana, fasc. 2604, Padre Angelo Secchi
ASPEM Archivio Storico della Provincia Euro-Mediterranea, Roma

In 1833, Angelo entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, at S. Andrea al Quirinale. In the personal file kept in the archive of the former Roman province, there are various documents required for entry into the novitiate, including the parental consent, reproduced here.
From this document we can deduce that the biographers who refer to Secchi orphan at an early age actually draw on a deamicisian rhetoric, rather in vogue at the time. The signature of the father, who appears here, proves that he was still alive when Angelo Secchi enters the novitiate, although the unsteady handwriting betrays a certain seniority and perhaps also infirmity.
The same corpus of documents includes the certificate on the moral conduct of the boy issued by the pastor, the certificates of the rector of the College of Reggio on the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist received in the College, and a certificate about the more than satisfactory scholar performances of Angelo Secchi (Figure 1). There is also the certificate of sound and robust constitution and the criminal record, respectively issued by the competent medical and police authorities, to demonstrate the existence of all the conditions necessary to embrace the religious life, or The absence of serious pathologies and crimes committed.
From another document, dated 1839, we find the year of death of Angelo Secchi’s father: it is the deed attesting the surrender of Angelo Secchi to his inherited goods in favor of his half-brother Tommaso and his sister Anna, already married Zanardi.
As a cadet son, Secchi was traditionally destined to enter a religious order; His choice, however, was quite self-motivated, at least from what emerges from the correspondence exchanged with his mother in the early years of his life as a religious. In 1847 Secchi received the sacerdotal ordination and shortly after that he would have issued solemn perpetual vows in the society of Jesus, if the Risorgimento events had not delayed his profession at 1852 (Figure 2).

Ileana Chinnici, INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo
Matteo Galaverni, Specola Vaticana