• U.S.

Religion: Courts

2 minute read

Probably not since Henry VIII tried in vain to get an annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon has a matrimonial case been so long in the courts of the Roman Catholic Church as that on which nine Cardinals have just handed down a final decision.

The male in this case is the son of one of France’s most historic houses−Le Comte Boni de Castel-ane. The female is the daughter of a U. S. stockjobber, the late Jay Gould−the present Anna, Marquise de Talleyrand Perigord, Duchesse de Sagan.

On Mar. 14, 1895, Anna became La Comtesse de Castellane by a marriage solemnized in Manhattan by the late Archbishop Corrigan. After three children were born, La Comtesse obtained a civil divorce from Le Comte on grounds of infidelity. In 1908, she married Le Marquis de Talleyrand Perigord, Duc de Sagan.

Thereupon, Le Comte asked the Vatican to annul the marriage, ap-parently that he might be free to marry again, within the Church.

Trial I. The Roman Rota* upheld the marriage in 1911. Le Comte appealed.

Trial II. Anna refused to be represented at this trial. The marriage was declared void. Anna appealed.

Trial III. The marriage was declared valid. Le Comte appealed from the Rota to Pope Benedict XV. Trial IV. The case was laid before a Commission of the Apostolic Signatura−the supreme tribunal of the Church. Six cardinals composed the commission. They held the marriage valid. Le Comte appealed to Pope Pius XI.

Trial V. The Commission declared the marriage invalid. Anna appealed to the Pope who, to settle it once and forever, assigned three extra cardinals to the commission.

Trial VI was before Cardinals De Lai (Italian), Pompilj (Italian), Van Rossum (Dutch), Sbaretti (Italian), Silj (Italian), Bisleti (Italian), Sincere (Italian), Lega (Italian), Mori (Italian). The marriage was held valid. Formal proclamation will soon be issued.

*The ecclesiastical court of appeal for both civil and criminal cases.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com