Italian Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli, retired archbishop of Florence, died July 9 at the age of 92.
The cardinal long supported the sainthood cause of Dominican Father Girolamo Savonarola, a controversial yet popular preacher who was burned at the stake in 1498 after denouncing moral corruption in society and the church.
Pope Alexander VI, the infamous Borgia pope, excommunicated the Dominican, but Father Savonarola defied the papal order and tried to provoke the pontiff’s removal from office. He was burned in the main square of Florence and soon after was revered locally as a saint.
Cardinal Piovanelli had been optimistic that he would be recognized for his holiness.
He also urged women to fill roles and positions open to them in the Catholic Church, then try to be patient.
Born in a small town north of Florence, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1947. He served as auxiliary bishop of Florence for one year before being named its archbishop in 1983. Elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1985, he retired at the age of 77 in 2001.
His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 212 members, 112 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.