Giovanni Cardinal Benelli

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Giovanni Cardinal Benelli (Poggiole di Vernio, diocese of Pistoia, May 12, 1921-October 26, 1982) was one of many Italian cardinals believed to be among the papabili, those considered especially electable to the Pontificate, at the two Papal conclaves of 1978.

A native of Poggiole di Vernio, Italy, Benelli studied at the Seminary of Pistoia, at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and also at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome.



Benelli began his priestly career during the Second World War, when he was ordained in Rome on October 31, 1943. He conducted further studies here until 1947, and also undertook pastoral work in the Diocese of Rome until 1950.

His impressive abilities were noticed by the Church, and he soon became attached to the Vatican Secretariat of State, and undertook a range of duties:


At age 45, Benelli was elected titular archbishop of Tusuro and appointed Papal Nuncio to Senegal as well as apostolic delegate in Western Africa on June 11, 1966. He was consecrated on September 11, 1966 in Rome by Cardinal Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, bishop of title of the suburbicarian see of Frascati and the Cardinal Secretary of State.

Shortly after his appointment, on June 29, 1967 he joined the Roman Curia as sostituto (substitute of secretariat of State) and secretary of Cipher in the Secretariat of State. This was a powerful position in which he worked closely with Pope Paul VI. He served in this role for ten years.


In 1977, Benelli was named Archbishop of Florence and became a cardinal in the small consistory held by Paul almost immediately thereafter, on June 27, 1977. He recieved the red biretta and the title of S. Prisca on this same day.

Cardinal Benelli attended the IV Ordinary Assembly of World Synod of Bishops in Vatican City, which was held during September 30-October 29, 1977. Upon Paul's death on August 6, 1978, Benelli was considered the favorite to replace him.

Instead, the conclave held on [[August 25-26 elected Pope John Paul I. When a second conclave (October 14-[[October 16|16) convened following the new Pope's sudden death after a reign of only 33 days, Benelli was once again considered a favorite to succeed due to his close ties to Paul and his Italian heritage. The position instead went to Karol Cardinal Wojtyła, who took the name Pope John Paul II.

Despite this, Benelli continued in the capacity of Cardinal Archbishop of Florence. He attended the I Plenary Assembly of Sacred College of Cardinals in Vatican City on November 5-9, 1979 and also the V Ordinary Assembly of World Synod of Bishops in Vatican City on September 26-October 25, 1980.

Cardinal Benelli died of a sudden heart attack on October 26, 1982 in Florence. He was buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of S. Maria del Fiore, Florence.

See also


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