Bernardino Nogara

Bernardino Nogara

Bernardino Nogara (June 17, 1870 — November 15, 1958) was the financial advisor to the Vatican between 1929 and 1954, appointed by Pope Pius XI and retained by Pope Pius XII. He is considered by many to be the father of the modern wealth of the Roman Catholic Church.

Financial career

Nogara was trained as an engineer at the Politecnico di Milano university in Milan. He managed mining projects in Wales (where he learned fluent English), Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire. While in Istambul, he was appointed representative to the Italian Banca Commerciale and then the Italian representative to an international committee overseeing the Ottoman empire's debt and the Italian delegation to the economic committee at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, after which he remained on the permanent reparations committee. [Pollard, 1999, p. 1078.]

Within the Banca Commerciale Italiana, Italy's largest private bank, he became a member of the board of directors and later the vice-president. He was also a member of the board of Comofin.

Vatican financial advisor

Nogara's dealings with the Vatican began in 1914, when he purchased a variety of bonds on behalf of Pope Benedict XV. [Lo Bella, 1973, p. 21.] In 1929, Pope Pius XI, a family friend, appointed Nogara director of the Special Administration of the Holy See, charged with the financial dealings of the Vatican. In theory, the director of the Special Administration reported to a three cardinal committee—which included Eugenio Pacelli and Pietro Gasparri; in practice, Nogara reported directly to the pope, meeting with him more frequently than any official in the Curia, with the exception of the Cardinal Secretary of State. [Murphy, 1983, p. 82-84.] At the time, one of his brothers, Bartolomeo, was the superintendent of the Vatican museums, two were archbishops, one was the rector of an Apulian seminary, and his sister was a mother superior.

Nogara, through shrewd investing in stocks, gold, and futures markets, vastly increased the Roman Catholic Church's financial holdings, which were on the verge of bankruptcy prior to being bolstered by $92.1 million (750 million lire cash and another 1,000 million lire in Italian government bonds) the Vatican received as a consequence of the Lateran treaties in 1929. [Murphy, 1983, p. 88.] By 1935, Nogara had vastly expanded the Vatican treasury in a sum estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars (the Holy See kept the exact amount confidential). [Murphy, 1983, p. 139.]

Nogara was a controversial figure with the Roman Curia because many of his investments were perceived to violate the church's doctrines. For example, Nogara purchased a controlling share in Istituto Farmacologico Serono di Roma, Italy's largest manufacturer of birth control products. [Murphy, 1983, p. 76.] Nogara also invested in Italy's munitions plants and other war industries, including direct loans to Mussolini's government prior to his invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. [Murphy, 1983, p. 139.] However, Nogara was highly regarded by many cardinals for bolstering the church's finances, which had been declining since 1870.

In 1954, he was succeeded as director of the Special Administration of the Holy See by Henri de Maillardoz, a director of Credit Suisse.


*Lo Bella, N. (1973). "The Vatican empire". New York. trans. from "L'Oro del Vaticano". (1971). Milan.
*Murphy, Paul I. and Arlington, R. Rene. (1983) "La Popessa: The Controversial Biography of Sister Pasqualina, the Most Powerful Woman in Vatican History". New York: Warner Books Inc. ISBN 0-446-51258-3
*Pollard, John F. (1999). " [ The Vatican and the Wall Street Crash: Bernardino Nogara and the Papal Finances in the early 1930s] ." "The Historical Journal", 42: 1077-1091.
*Pollard, John F. (2005). "Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican, 1850–1950". Cambridge University Press.


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