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Real Name: Alfeo Spinosa

Identity/Class: Human (Italian)

Occupation: Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church; curator of the Vatican's San Gabriel Archives

Group Membership: Sacred College of Cardinals, Roman Catholic Church

Affiliations: Roman Catholic Church; Doctor Stephen Strange

Enemies: Baron (Karl) Mordo; Julian, Lord Phyffe (deceased); cultists who served Lord Phyffe (none identified)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: Alfeo Cardinal Spinosa

Base of Operations: The Vatican (a.k.a. the Vatican City State), Europe

First Appearance: Doctor Strange II#38 (December, 1979)

Powers/Abilities: Alfeo Spinosa presumably possessed whatever religious/spiritual powers (if any) that were usually endowed upon humans who had become priests in the Roman Catholic Church.(see comments)

   Alfeo Spinosa had undoubtedly successfully completed whatever religious studies were necessary in order for him to become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

   Alfeo Spinosa could understand and speak (at least) three languages: Italian, English and Latin.

   Given his position as curator of the San Gabriel Archives, Alfeo Spinosa must have possessed a greater knowledge of magic and the supernatural than most priests, especially about the various Tomes of Eldritch Knowledge. However, while he probably knew a lot about such tomes, he almost certainly had not read or studied the knowledge contained within them.

Height: 6' (estimated)
Weight: Unrevealed
Eye color: Unrevealed
Hair color: Grey

(Doctor Strange II#40 (fb) - BTS) - Alfeo Spinosa was one of Stephen Strange's oldest friends but how and when they first met has never been revealed.

(Doctor Strange II#38 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Alfeo Spinosa studied in an unspecified seminary to become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. He may or may not have later been made a bishop.

(Doctor Strange II#38 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Alfeo Spinosa was created a cardinal by a pope. However, the identity of that pope has never been established.(see comments)

(Doctor Strange II#38 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Alfeo Spinosa was chosen to be the curator of the Vatican's San Gabriel Archives, the greatest storehouse of occult literature in the world.

(conjecture) - Spinosa's appointment to be the curator may have been made necessary by the murder of the previous curator at the hands of Count Dracula.(see comments)

(Doctor Strange II#39 (fb) - BTS) - One day, Baron Mordo eliminated the mystical defenses of the San Gabriel Archives and entered it to take a book that contained information about the spell to open the Seven Gates of Chaos. The robbery would have gone unnoticed for some time except for hat fact that Mordo had overlooked an ordinary security camera that took several pictures of him.


(Doctor Strange II#38 (fb) - BTS) - Alerted by the photos from the security camera, Cardinal Spinosa decided that he had to show them to his old friend and he immediately arranged for a first-class seat on a flight from Rome to New York City.

(Doctor Strange II#38) - While traveling from Rome to New York City aboard TWA Flight 666, Cardinal Spinosa sat in seat 1-C with a scarf around his neck and a Vatican briefcase chained to his left wrist. At some point during the flight, a female flight attendant brought him a drink he had ordered and he thanked her, saying, "Grazie." The flight attendant thought to herself that he was in a class by himself and wondered if he would be interested in a date, but when she tried to continue interacting with him by mentioning that he must be pretty warm in his scarf and offering to hang it up for him, he accepted her offer and handed it to her, allowing her to see his white collar. As she thought to herself that it was just her luck that someone so good-looking would have to be a priest, Spinosa thanked her for her kindness and she told him, "Don't mention it, Father. My pleasure."


   Hours later, after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport shortly before dawn, Spinosa used a pay phone to call Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. However, Doctor Strange had just left, teleporting himself and Clea to the Inwood Park lair of the two beings who had used malevolent magic to kill Douglas "Doug" Royce at the Hell's Bells bar only hours earlier. After letting the phone ring more than twenty times, Spinosa concluded that Strange was not home and, worried that he might have already been a victim of a sneak attack, hailed a cab.


(Doctor Strange II#38 (fb) - BTS) - After arriving at the Sanctum Sanctorum, Spinosa let himself in, somehow getting past Strange's mystic defenses. For some reason, he chose to wait in the parlor with the lights off.

(Doctor Strange II#38) - When Strange and Clea returned home, Clea called out to Wong to let him know that they were home but Strange sensed that there was a stranger in the parlor and told his disciple to be ready while he turned on the lights. As Strange snapped his fingers and four glowing balls of light appeared, Spinosa called out, "Stefano!" and Strange, once he got over his surprise, welcomed him old friend. However, Spinosa immediately stated, "It is business, amico mio. As you know, I am curator of the Vatican's San Gabriel Archives, the greatest storehouse of occult literature in the world." As he removed a photograph from his briefcase and passed it to Strange, Spinosa added, "Yesterday, the library was this man." Strange was shocked to see that the thief in the picture was ...Baron Mordo!

(Doctor Strange II#39) - Spinosa accompanied Strange and Clea as they went to the upstairs room where the catatonic Mordo had been living for months. Spinosa was surprised to see that Mordo was there but Strange, thanks to the photo, now knew that that this Mordo was only an illusion and he immediately dispelled the spirit form. As Strange reacted badly to this discovery by asking aloud how he could have been "so stupid" and "so careless," Clea commented to the cardinal about how Strange was pacing and blaming himself. Spinosa said, "Stefano has always hated facing things he doesn't understand, problems he can't solve." When Clea then asked why Strange felt he had to keep his feelings to himself instead of letting others help him, Spinosa replied, "He has been alone much of his life, signorina, forced from childhood to depend on no one but himself. Sadly, such habits are near-impossible to break." After Clea had lightened her beloved's mood with a kiss, Strange spoke of how one of his old allies, Lord Julian Phyffe, had displayed an unusual interest in Mordo when they last met and how he might be able to help them locate Mordo. As they exited Mordo's former room, Strange told Alfeo and Clea that there was much to do before they left for Paris.


(Doctor Strange II#39 - BTS) - "By noon the next day," Alfeo Spinosa and Stephen Strange were high above the Atlantic Ocean on the first available flight from New York City to Paris, France, while Clea stayed behind to search for the missing Wong.

(Doctor Strange II#39) - After landing at the Paris airport, Spinosa and Strange went straight to Lord Julian Phyffe`s home on the once-fashionable Rue des Arbres on the Right Bank of the River Seine. It was already night when they arrived at the house. After the two of them entered the dark foyer, Spinosa said, "The door was unlocked, Stefano, yet there seems to be no one here. No electricity, either." Strange told Alfeo to tread warily because he sensed evil in the house and danger. Then, after hearing a "phut!" sound, Strange asked Alfeo if he had heard that noise and turned to find his friend gasping out, "S-Stefano..." as he fell forwards towards Strange who attempted to catch him. However, Spinosa seemed to crumble into dust in Strange's hands. In that moment of shock, Strange was struck from behind by a cudgel blow to his head that knocked him out.

   After regaining consciousness in what seemed to be an operating room, Strange was subjected to various illusions by cultists working for Phyffe and was nearly manipulated into "operating" on a "patient." However, after seeing that the "patient" was actually his former lover, Madeleine de St. Germaine, Strange was able to break free from the illusion and found that they were all really in a chapel. Strange realized that the cultists had been using their spells in an attempt to manipulate him into performing a Black Mass with Madeleine as a blood sacrifice, something that would have finished him as a sorcerous force for good. As the cultists rushed forward with knives to kill Strange and Madeleine, one of them knocked over a brazier which fell against and ignited ornamental draperies which quickly set the entire chapel ablaze. Within seconds, the fire spread from the chapel to the great mansion house beside it. Fortunately, Strange's Cloak of Levitation was able to lift he and Madeleine up and out of the house just before it collapsed, presumably killing the cultists inside.

   Once safe on the ground, Madeleine noticed something lying nearby. Strange identified it as Alfeo Spinosa's dead body, whole but shot through the heart. Strange realized that his psychic senses had been so hyper-aware that the disintegration that he had "seen" had been the actual destruction of his friend's life-force. Madeleine revealed that the cultists served Lord Phyffe who now served Baron Mordo who was planning to open the Seven Gates of Chaos and so destroy the Earth!

(Doctor Strange II#40) - Soon afterwards, Strange confronted Lord Julian Phyffe during a party he was throwing in his Paris home and accused him setting a trap meant to kill Strange and, in the process, he had murdered one of Strange's oldest friends.

(Man-Thing II#4)- While battling Azrael, Strange recalled how events in the past two days had included the death of his dear friend, Alfeo Cardinal Spinosa.

(Doctor Strange II#41) - In the Florida Everglades, after surviving Mordo's attempt to have the Man-Thing murder him, a weakened Strange briefly collapsed and, in his mind's eye, recalled how his old friend Cardinal Alfeo Spinosa had informed him of Mordo's theft and had accompanied Strange to Paris where he had been slain in the ambush set for them by Lord Julian Phyffe.

No mention of how the Roman Catholic Church reacted to the murder of Cardinal Spinosa has ever been made.

Comments: Created by Chris Claremont, Gene Colan and Dan Green.

   As far as I know, Cardinal Alfeo Spinosa has never been mentioned in any subsequent Marvel comic nor has he even been mentioned in any Official Handbook.

   At one point, Cardinal Spinosa thought to himself that every second that Strange remained ignorant of his news (about Mordo's theft) left him vulnerable to a sneak attack. However, if he truly believed that, couldn't he have just contacted Strange by telephone? Doing so would have enabled him to warn Strange at least seven hours earlier than delivering that warning in person. Who knows, maybe he tried to phone first but couldn't get through?

   According to the Omniscient Narrative, Cardinal Spinosa traveled from Rome to New York City aboard TWA Flight 666. Given that some people believe that "666" is the number of the beast (i.e., the Devil), was it meant as a joke by writer Chris Claremont? Or is there an actual airline flight from Rome that has that number? According to Wikipedia, the Finnair flight from Copenhagen to Helsinki (HEL) used to be flight AY666 until it was renamed AY954 in 2017.

   After being surprised by Cardinal Spinosa's presence inside the Sanctum Sanctorum and noticing that Wong wasn't present, Clea wondered how Spinosa had been able to get past Strange's mystic defenses if no one had been there to admit him. This question was never answered so it's possible that Spinosa may have possessed some mystical abilities of his own. Or maybe Strange's mystic defenses were programmed to admit people they recognized as friends? Or maybe being a priest helped?

   Although I presume that being a consecrated priest (of any religion) in the Marvel Universe might somehow endow that person with abilities not possessed by non-priests, I honestly have no idea whatsoever what those powers might be. Offhand, the only (former) MU priest who possesses powers that comes to mind is the fanatical Bishop Curwen who became Silver Dagger, but he obtained (or unlocked) his magical powers by studying cursed tomes, so his abilities are definitely atypical for Roman Catholic priests.
    The Montesi line had some mystic powers, including the ability to read the Darkhold without being corrupted by it. Some priests were experienced with exorcism and other such mystic rites.

   In Doctor Strange II#38, Cardinal Spinosa is first described (by the Omniscient Narrative) as being the curator of the Vatican Library but at the end of that issue he identified himself as the curator of the Vatican's (fictional) San Gabriel Archives. Subsequent issues in this storyline only refer to him as the curator of the Vatican's (famed) San Gabriel Archives...except for Doctor Strange II#41, in which he is (mistakenly) referred to as the "curate" of those archives.

   Since Alfeo Spinosa was already a cardinal when he appeared in late 1979, the MU counterparts to real-world popes who could have appointed him is limited to five who reigned in the twentieth century, from 1939 to 2005. Those five are: Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II. Given Spinosa's age, the most likely pope would seem to be Paul VI since he reigned from June of 1963 to August of 1978.
    Of course, thanks to Marvel's Sliding Timescale, that's (probably) no longer correct.
    Correct, the 1979 date would be topical, and it would more accurately refer to something 9 years ago (2015 as this profile is published in 2024, and sliding forward a year every year).

   According to the Book of the Vishanti story in Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#9/2, the late Monsignore Giuseppe Montesi, who had been killed in the Sistine Chapel within the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City by Count Dracula no more than one year (in Marvel Time) earlier, had been a powerful prelate who had presided over a little-known wing of the Vatican Library that was secretly devoted to occult lore and artifacts. Although there has never been any in-story confirmation that this particular wing was the San Gabriel Archives, the profile on the Darkhold that appeared in Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons & Various Monstrosities#1 does state that Giuseppe Montesi was the priest in charge of "St. Gabriel's Library" when he was killed. This would seem to suggest that Cardinal Spinosa must have taken over as curator after Monsignore Montesi was murdered by Dracula, only to be killed by Lord Phyffe's minions less than a year later.

   Based on this chronology and the fact that they both had a close connection to the San Gabriel Archives, it seems likely that Cardinal Spinosa knew Monsignore Montesi and may even have worked with him in the library before replacing him. If so, then Montesi should be listed under Spinosa's affiliations. However, since there has never been any in-story reference to such connection between the two priests, it's possible that Spinosa knew of Montesi but had never actually worked with him, so I have chosen to not assume that such an affiliation existed.
    An excellent point, and certainly worthy of inclusion in Giuseppe Montesi's profile as possible, with discussion in the comments.

   In Doctor Strange II#40, Strange tells Madeleine that, with "the book" that he stole from the Vatican, Mordo now has the knowledge he needs to destroy the world. However, in Doctor Strange II#41, the narration of Strange's semi-conscious flashback mentions that Mordo had robbed the San Gabriel Archives of "some of its oldest and rarest tomes." So, singular versus plural, how many books did Mordo steal?

   The Omniscient Narrations appearing in Doctor Strange II#38-39 and Man-Thing II#4 refer to this character as "Alfeo Cardinal Spinosa" and it's only in Doctor Strange II#41 that the narration refers to him as "Cardinal Alfeo Spinosa." This is presumably due to the fact that cardinals are supposed to sign their names by placing the title "Cardinal" after their personal name and before their surname. However, according to Wikipedia, official sources say that the correct form for referring to a cardinal in English is normally as "Cardinal [First name] [Surname]". I have no idea why Chris Claremont ever used the incorrect form.

   Doctor Strange believed that Baron Mordo was photographed robbing the San Gabriel Archives because he had eliminated the library's mystic defenses but had overlooked an ordinary security camera. However, it could be argued that, instead of being a mistake, it actually part of a plan to get Strange involved so that he could be killed before he could stop Mordo. After all, being warned by Spinosa led Strange to discover Mordo's escape which led to him going to Paris to seek Phyffe's help which led to him being ambushed at Phyffe's home by Phyffe's cultists. Similarly, it seems unlikely to be a coincidence that the woman kidnapped by those cultists, Madeleine de St. Germaine, would later turn out to be one of the people that Mordo had chosen to be part of the mass sacrifice needed to open the Seven Gates of Chaos. Did Madeleine, a person "possessing significant mystic ability or potential" that was needed to be a suitable sacrifice, just happen to be near the Nexus of All Realities when Mordo planned to open the Chaos Gates? Or was Strange manipulated into bringing her there?

   According to the Omniscient Narrative in Doctor Strange II#39, it was early evening in Greenwich Village at the same time that Strange and Spinosa were being attacked in Paris. Since early evening is defined as being between the hours of 5 PM and 7 PM, and Paris is six time zones ahead New York City, that means that Spinosa was killed between the hours of 11 PM and 1 AM local time. Allowing a half hour for a cab ride from one of the Paris airports to Phyffe's home and about 7.5 hours for a non-stop flight from New York City to Paris, this would place the departure time of Strange and Spinosa's flight from NYC at between 3 PM and 5 PM Central European Standard Time which would have been between 9 AM and 11 AM Eastern Standard Time. So, Strange and Spinosa actually were above the Atlantic by noon and it was already night by the time they landed in Paris.
    I'm not sure why I felt compelled to figure out that chronology but, since I've done it, here it is.

   Cardinal Alfeo Spinosa is one of a number of Doctor Strange's old friends or colleagues to whom we readers are introduced either only after they have died or who die soon after they first appear in a story with Strange. Sir Clive Bentley, Dr. Charles Benton (a.k.a. Asmodeus), Kenneth Ward, Aleister Kane, and Doctor Darryl Berenson are only five of these now-dead characters. Someone should make a more complete list of them.

   According to Wikipedia, in the real world, the Vatican Apostolic Library, more commonly known as the Vatican Library or informally as the Vat, is the library of the Holy See. It is located in Vatican City and is the city-state's national library. Although it wasn't formally established until 1475, it is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. The Vatican Library is a research library for history, law, philosophy, science, and theology, and is open to anyone who can document their qualifications and research needs. The library currently has some 80 staff who work in five departments: manuscripts and archival collections, printed books/drawings, acquisitions/cataloguing, coin collections/museums and restoration/photography. However, if this library has a secret collection of occult literature and/or items, then the Catholic Church really is keeping it a least from casual internet searches.

   The librarian at the time that Doctor Strange II#38-39 was published was Cardinal Antonio Samoré whose title was "Bibliothecarius XL." Aside from having the same initials as Alfeo Spinosa, I see no indication that Chris Claremont based Spinosa on him.

   Although the San Gabriel Archives don't actually appear in Spinosa's storyline, the Marvel Universe's version of the Vatican Library has appeared in a few other Marvel comics:

   It should be noted that, aside from the fact that it is located somewhere in Vatican City, none of these stories have provided any details about this library. As such, it's possible that "the" library that appears in these stories may not actually always be the same library. More specific and detailed information about the Vatican Library would be helpful.

Profile by Donald Campbell.

Cardinal Alfeo Spinosa has no known connections to:

San Gabriel Archives
Note: This subprofile is a stub which only deals with Cardinal Spinosa's involvement with the Vatican library. It should be replaced if/when a full profile on that library is ever written.

   Considered to be "the greatest storehouse of occult literature in the world," the San Gabriel Archives (also known as St. Gabriel's Library) is a section (or wing) of the Vatican Library. The existence of this archive is presumably either top secret or, at least, not common knowledge. It presumably exists within Vatican City.

   The San Gabriel Archives are protected by certain unspecified mystic defenses as well as more mundane, technological security measures. Acting with care, Baron Mordo was able to eliminate those defenses without triggering any alarm, but he was photographed by an ordinary security camera.

   Few details about exactly what occult literature is stored in the library have been revealed. Although it is known that Baron Mordo once stole a book (or books) from the library, the title(s) of the book(s) that he stole have never been revealed. All that is known about it/them is that it/they contained knowledge that Mordo needed in order to cast the spell that could open the Seven Gates of Chaos and thereby destroy the planet Earth.

   During the Chaos Gates storyline, the library only appeared in photographs taken of Baron Mordo while he was robbing it. As a result, the only views of the San Gabriel Archives that have ever been presented are what is visible in the background of those pictures. In the absence of any other images, I have chosen to count the comics in which those photographs appear as being "appearances" of the San Gabriel Archives.

--Mentioned/referenced in Doctor Strange II#38-39, Man-Thing II#4, Doctor Strange II#41
--appeared in photographs in Doctor Strange II#38-39, 41 (fb)

Note: Although the Vatican Library has appeared in a half-dozen or so stories, it was only referred to in-story as the San Gabriel Archives during the storyline which involved Cardinal Spinosa. In the stories in which it actually appeared, it was only called either the Vatican library or a (little-known) wing of the Vatican library.

images: (without ads)
Doctor Strange II#39, page 1 (main image)
Doctor Strange II#38, page 7, panel 4 (head shot)
      page 7, panel 5 (how he disappointed that flight attendant)
      page 17, panel 5 (surprising Stephen Strange in his home)
Doctor Strange II#41, page 4, panel 5 (showing Baron Mordo's photo to Strange and Clea)
Doctor Strange II#39, page 7, panels 7-8 (how Strange perceived Spinosa's being killed in Paris)
      page 8, panel 1 (how Strange initially perceived Spinosa's corpse)
      page 17, panel 4 (Strange and Madeleine finding Spinosa's actual corpse)
Doctor Strange II#41, page 5, panel 2 (Strange and Madeleine standing over Spinosa's body)
      page 5, panel 1 (photo of Baron Mordo in the San Gabriel Archives)

Doctor Strange II#38 (December, 1979) - Chris Claremont (vision), Gene Colan (shape), Dan Green (form), Jo Duffy and Allen Milgrom (view)
Doctor Strange II#39 (February, 1980) - Chris Claremont (words), Gene Colan (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Jo Duffy and Allen Milgrom (editors)
(flashbacks only)
Man-Thing II#4 (May, 1980) - Chris Claremont (author), Don Perlin and Bob Wiacek (artists), Denny O'Neil (editor)
Doctor Strange II#39 (June, 1980) - Chris Claremont (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Jo Duffy (editor)

First Posted: 03/05/2024
Last updated: 03/05/2024

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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