Obituaries

Italian Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo

Italian Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo died Nov. 19 in Rome at the age of 92. During his long service as a Vatican diplomat, Cardinal Montezemolo was instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel in 1993. He is pictured during a conference on Gaudium et Spes, a document of the Second Vatican Council, at the Vatican in this Nov. 5, 2015, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A seasoned Vatican diplomat and expert in heraldry, Italian Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo died Nov. 19 in Rome at age 92.

As a Vatican diplomat, Pope Francis said, the cardinal “dedicated himself with wisdom to the good of the people” in the countries he served. And, as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the cardinal strengthened the “spiritual vitality” of the basilica and its “ecumenical vocation” as the burial place of the apostle.

Named apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine in 1990, he was instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel in 1993; he became the Vatican’s first nuncio to Israel and held the post until 1998.

Before becoming a priest, he earned a degree in architecture. With his artistic background and expertise in heraldry, he designed the coat of arms for Pope Benedict XVI after he was elected pope in April 2005, and his critique of Pope Francis’ coat of arms is generally accepted as the reason slight modifications were made to the design in the first weeks of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 and entered the Vatican’s diplomatic service after working in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1972 until 1977, first as undersecretary, then as secretary.

Named an archbishop in 1977, he was appointed nuncio to Papua New Guinea and apostolic delegate in the Solomon Islands. In 1980, he was named nuncio to Honduras and Nicaragua, and six years later he became nuncio to Uruguay.

After his eight years representing the Vatican in the Holy Land, he returned to Italy in 1998 to serve as nuncio to Italy and San Marino. He retired in 2001 at the age of 75.

But four years later, Pope Benedict XVI named him archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and inducted him into the College of Cardinals in 2006.

With his death, the College of Cardinals has 217 members, 120 of whom are younger than 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.

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