Homage to Cardinal Montezemolo, Assessor of Honor of the Order

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funeral of Cardinal Montezemolo

Son of Giuseppe Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, an Italian army colonel shot at the Fosse Ardeatine on March 24, 1944, by the Nazis; Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo was the first Apostolic Nuncio in Israel. He died on November 19 in Rome, at the age of 92.

On November 21, 2017 the funeral was celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, in the presence of the Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, as well as an important delegation of Knights led by the Governor General and by the Lieutenant General. As per tradition, Pope Francis presided over the rite of the Ultima Commendatio and the Valedictio at the end of the celebration. On October 14, 2016, he had visited Cardinal Montezemolo at the “Villa Betania” nursing home, expressing his profound esteem. In a message of condolence, the Holy Father expressed “sincere admiration” for the cardinal, archpriest emeritus of the papal basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The Pope recalled “with gratitude his generous work in the pontifical representations of various countries, especially in Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Honduras, Uruguay, Israel and Italy, where he dedicated himself to the good of the people”. Appointed Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine in 1990, he was the author of negotiations to normalize relations between the Holy See and Israel, which led to the 1993 agreement, after which he became the first Apostolic Nuncio in Israel (1994-1998).

As the first archpriest of the papal basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (2005-2009), he demonstrated a particularly intense and competent commitment to “restore spiritual vitality” to this place, reestablishing “a new impetus to its ecumenical vocation”, emphasized Francis in his message. With the same purpose, Cardinal Montezemolo suggested to Benedict XVI the celebration of the Pauline Year (June 2008-June 2009) and promoted a scientific inquiry into what tradition held was the tomb of the Apostle to the Gentiles, which confirmed the authenticity of the remains.

(January 2018)