If 95% of Catholic bishops today can trace their line of apostolic succession through Cardinal Scipione Rebiba; who are the 5% remaining lineages traced through?

Who was Scipione Rebiba?

Sicilian-born Scipione Rebiba would be remembered no more than any other sixteenth-century bishop of the Roman Catholic Church did he not boast a particular historical distinction which arose long after his death. Over ninety-five percent of the bishops serving the Church today trace their line of apostolic succession through this cardinal. This is the so-called Rebiban Succession, and it descends through numerous bishops to every pope elected since 1724. In truth, Scipione Rebiba wasn't particularly zealous in consecrating bishops, but some of his successors were.

  • 1
    Who assessed that "95% of Catholic bishops today can trace their line of apostolic succession through Cardinal Scipione Rebiba"?
    – Geremia
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 23:25
  • Is it because a lot of other lines of apostolic succession died off because of Protestantism in England, in Scandinavia, and in the area which is now Germany? (see map) Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


Who are the remaining Apostolic Succession lineages that are non-Rebiban Succession?

Within the Roman Rite there are four active lines that account for 48 bishops: the Ravizza line, the de Bovey line, the Bodman line and the d'Estouteville line.

The current state of episcopal lineages

As of 27 July 2015, there are approximately 5,288 living bishops in the Roman Catholic and the several Eastern Catholic sui iuris Churches; that is, bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome. The overwhelming majority of these bishops trace their orders to Scipione Rebiba who was ordained a bishop in 1541.

Approximately 168 bishops belong to lines of the various Eastern Catholic sui iuris Churches: Chaldeans, Maronites, Melkites, Syro-Malankars, and Ukrainians. Among this small number of bishops are found eleven Roman-rite bishops belonging to the Maronite line and eleven Roman-rite bishops belonging to the Chaldean line.

The bishops of the Armenian, Bulgarian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Ruthenian, Slovak, ans Syro-Malabar sui iuris Churches belong to the Rebiban line with the exception of one Slovak bishop who belongs to the Ukrainian line. Similarly, one Maronite bishop – a former apostolic nuncio – and eight Ukrainian bishops belong to the Rebiban line.

The four small active Roman-rite lines account for a total of 48 bishops, divided as follows:

  • the Ravizza line – 4 living members

  • the de Bovet line – 9 living members

  • the von Bodman line – 11 living members

  • the d’Estouteville lines – 23 living members

Lists of the bishops belonging to each of these lines as well as examples of these lineages will be added to this blog in the next few days. Research to find information which will extend each of these lines as well as the Rebiba line is ongoing.

In summary, approximately 95.8% of Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic bishops belong to the Rebiba line; 3.3% belong to one of the several Eastern Catholic lines; and 0.9% belong to one of the other four active Roman-rite lines.

Roman-rite bishops belonging to Eastern Catholic lines

Twenty two Roman-rite bishops belong to an Eastern Catholic line: eleven to the Chaldean line and eleven to the Maronite line. The reason for this departure from the norm has to do with the conferral of episcopal ordinations by two diplomats of the Holy See.

Father Antonin-Fernand Drapier, O.P., was serving in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) when he was named Titular Archbishop of Neocaesarea in Ponto and Apostolic Delegate to Mesopotamia. He chose to be ordained bishop in Mesopotamia by the Chaldean bishop of Amadiyah, Bishop François David, who was assisted by Syriac Archbishop Athanase Georges Cyrille Dallal of Mossul, and Armenian Archbishop Jacques Nessimian of Mardin. On November 19, 1936 he was named Apostolic Delegate to Indochina and it was during his service there than he ordained nine bishops for Viêt Nâm and one for Laos.

Of those ten bishops, two conferred episcopal ordination on other bishops and as those bishops ordained others, the Chaldean line was continued in Viêt Nâm and Laos. Today we find nine bishops in Viêt Nâm and one bishop in Italy – a retired missionary bishop in Laos – in the Chaldean line begun there by Archbishop Drapier.

Bishop Guillaume d'Estouteville (1412–1483) was a French aristocrat of royal blood who became a leading bishop and cardinal. He held a number of Church offices simultaneously. He conducted the reexamination of the case of Jeanne d'Arc and exonerated her of the charges against her.

Cardinal d'Estouteville performed a number of episcopal consecrations in Rome as part of his duties in the Roman Curia. He has the distinction of being the origin of the oldest extant, traceable episcopal lineage within the Catholic Church and the most numerous non-Rebiban lineage. - Guillaume d'Estouteville

Bishop François de Bovet (1745–1838) was Bishop of Sisteron from 1789 to 1812, and from 1817 to 1820 was Archbishop of Toulouse.

He was consecrated as bishop on September 13, 1789, in Paris. Due to religious persecution he had to leave France for much of the Revolution. He did not resign his bishopric in line with the Concordat of 1801, but instead held on to his diocese until 1812. Since the consecrator of him is not known and some of the bishops alive today can trace their episcopal lineage back to him, the person of François de Bovet is very important for the history of the Catholic Church. This so-called de Bovet lineage includes eight members of the episcopate scattered between Malaysia (four), Indonesia (one), Taiwan (one) and China (two). - François de Bovet

Bishop Johannes Wolfgang Reichsfreiherr von Bodman (1651–1691) was auxiliary bishop of Konstanz (Germany) from 1686 until he died in 1691.

He was consecrated as bishop on November 26, 1686 at Konstanz. Since the consecrator of him is not known and some of the bishops alive today can trace their episcopal lineage back to him, the person of Johannes von Bodman is very important for the history of the Catholic Church. This so-called von Bodman lineage includes nine members of the episcopate, eight of them in Indonesia and one in Belgium. - Johannes Wolfgang von Bodman

The following articles may be of interest to some:

  • There are, I think, usually at least three consecrating bishops at every consecration. Two "genearations" ago a bishop might have nine "ancestors" and so on. So there must be bishops descended from Rebiba and de Bovet and von Bodman as well mustn't there? Or does one only count the principle consecrator? Am I missing something?
    – davidlol
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 12:05
  • 2
    @davidlol The Apostolic and episcopal lineage is typically viewed from the standpoint of the principle consecrator. Although for validity, only one bishop is needed to raise a priest to the episcopacy, it remains a strict rule of the Catholic Church that there should at least two co-consecrating bishops; with the sole exemption being made in missionary countries where it is very difficult to bring three bishops together. Consecrations by the Pope are exempt from the three bishop requirement.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 12:35
  • I see. Thank you.
    – davidlol
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 21:13

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