Edling Rodolfo (1723- 1803)


The second archbishop of our city, Count Rodolfo Gundecaro Giuseppe Edling, was born in Gorizia on August 1st 1723, son of Count Giacomo di Edling and Countess Elisabetta di Cobenzl. After studying in the Jesuit college of Gorizia and in the German-Hungarian college of Rome, ordained priest in 1746, he returned to Gorizia and renounced his ancestral rights to devote himself exclusively to ecclesiastical life. 

He was canon of Aquileia, and, after the suppression of the Patriarchate, capitular dean of the metropolitan church of Gorizia (1752). At the proposal of the Archbishop Count Carlo Michele d'Attems, Rodolfo Edling was appointed by Pope Clement XIV Bishop of Capernaum in partibus infidelium and coadjutor bishop of Monsignor d'Attems (1771). On the death of the archbishop, Monsignor Edling was called to succeed him, taking possession of the archdiocese on 14 May 1775. However the episcopate of Monsignor Edling was characterized by one of the hardest contrasts between the church and the civil authorities that the history of Gorizia remembers. On 17 October 1781 Emperor Joseph II issued the so-called edict of tolerance, which essentially granted equal treatment to non-Catholic citizens of the empire. The emperor also invoked the right of decision in a number of ecclesiastical matters. Archbishop Edling refused to publish it and have it enforced, even criticizing the edict and the emperor himself from the pulpit. A few months later, in February 1782, a converted Jew, certain Gentilli, was baptized in the cathedral of Gorizia. He had tried to induce his sister Ricca to embrace the Catholic religion, and a judicial investigation followed to ascertain the real intentions of the young woman, who declared her fidelity to Judaism. The story is in any case indicative of the climate in Gorizia at the time and the position taken by the archbishop, in open contrast with the legislation just issued. In the whole empire, only three prelates refused to promulgate the imperial ordinances: the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Migazzi, the Prince-Bishop of Agram in Hungary, Monsignor Esterhazy, and the Prince Archbishop of Gorizia, Monsignor Edling. In particular, the archbishop opposed the edict of tolerance, which he considered useless, since almost all his dioceses were Catholic, and harmful, since false religions could not be tolerated. Because of his refusal, he was fined 2,700 florins, plus 1,500 florins to distribute each year to the poor, he was called to Vienna to justify himself, he was prevented from meeting Pope Pius VI on a visit to Gorizia, and finally, despite having resigned himself to the publication of some decrees - a fact that alienated him from the sympathies of the Vatican curia - he received orders from Vienna to submit or renounce his office. The archbishop signed the renunciation, not intending to act against his conscience, but the pontiff did not accept it, since it was not based on canonical reasons. Under further pressure, Monsignor Edling renewed the renunciation, which Pius VI finally accepted, appointing the prelate assistant to the pontifical throne. Joseph II, however, did not want to leave the archbishop who had rebelled against him with the Roman Curia, and ordered him to reside within the confines of the Empire, on pain of not receiving the pension to which he was entitled (a very generous pension: 10,000 florins, an amount greater than the annual income he had enjoyed as archbishop). Monsignor Edling then moved to Lodi, where he died on 8 December 1803 and where he is buried in the church of San Filippo. Beyond the personal story of Rudolf Edling, the contrast between archbishop and emperor cost the newly established archdiocese of Gorizia dearly. In fact the seat remained vacant from 1784 to 1787, when Joseph II suppressed it to include it first in the territory of the diocese of Ljubljana, then of Gradisca. A few years later, in 1791, Gorizia was again erected as a diocese, but governed by a simple bishop, no longer archbishop, and without the title of "prince". The previous situation was restored only in 1830, when both the emperor who wanted his subjects equal and the archbishop, worried only about religious zeal, were now dead.