Ferrata was born in Gradoli, near Viterbo. Ordained a priest in 1869 and consecrated a bishop in 1885, he served as nuncio to Belgium and then to France. He served as Secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs from April 20, 1889 to June 23, 1891. He elevated to Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in the consistory of June 22, 1896.
He spent the early part of his cardinalate in now-abolished positions such as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Indulgences and Relics. He was named Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. In January 1914 Pope Pius X named him to succeed Mariano Cardinal Rampolla, who had died December 13, 1913, as Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. Pope Pius X died August 20, 1914 at the outbreak of World War I. His successor Pope Benedict XV, appointed him as Secretary of State, switching him with Rafael Merry del Val, who held this position during the pontification of Pius X and was now moved to be Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. However, Ferrata died the month after his appointment as Secretary of State at age seventy. He was succeeded by Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, who kept the position until 1929, when he was succeeded by Eugenio Pacelli.
- The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church - Biographical Dictionary - Consistory of June 22, 1896 at www.fiu.edu
|Catholic Church titles|
Rafael Merry del Val
|Cardinal Secretary of State|
| Succeeded by|
|Archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran|
7 April 1913 - 10 October 1914
| Succeeded by|