The Order of Malta mourns the Passing of Cardinal Pio Laghi
From 1993, Cardinal Patronus of the Order
The death has occurred in Rome on 10 January 2009 of His Eminence Cardinal Pio Laghi, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Order of Malta with Cross of Profession ad honorem, at the San Carlo di Nancy hospital.
The Order has lost one of its most eminent members as well as a great moral and spiritual guide, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, declared.
The Lying in State, at first at San Carlo, is transferred today to the Vatican. The funeral takes place on Tuesday 13 January in the Basilica of St.Peter’s, with the solemn Requiem Mass celebrated by the dean of the College of Cardinals, His Eminence Angelo Sodano, and in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI.
The Grand Master of the Order, Fra’ Matthew Festing, will be present at the ceremonies, accompanied by the members of the Sovereign Council and the Prelate of the Order, Mons. Angelo Acerbi.
Created Cardinal at the Consistory of 1991 and nominated by Pope John Paul II as Cardinal Patronus of the Order on 8 May 1993, Cardinal Laghi took on the important duties of promoting the spiritual concerns of the Order and its members, and the relationship between the Holy See and the Order of Malta.
Cardinal Pio Laghi was born in Castiglione , Italy, on May 21, 1922 and was ordained on April 20, 1946. In 1942 he graduated in Theology, and in 1950 in Canon Law, at the Pontificia Università Lateranense. After studies at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, he entered the service of the Holy See in March 1952 as a diplomat in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. He saw service in Nicaragua, in Washington, Delhi and Jerusalem. From 1974 to 1980 he was Apostolic Nuncio in Argentina, then Apostolic Delegate, and from 1984, after the official agreements between the Holy See and Washington, pro-Nuncio in Washington. From 1990 to 1999 he was Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
In 2001, the Cardinal was appointed Special Envoy to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority, to consign a personal message from the Pope which urged the parties to declare a ceasefire and return to dialogue. In 2003, at the time of the Iraq crisis, Pope John Paul II sent him to Washington to advise President George Bush on the position and initiatives taken by the Holy See towards disarmament and peace in the Middle East.
Most recently, his many commitments with the Order of Malta included the obsequies following the death of Grand Master Fra’ Andrew Bertie, the swearing in of Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, the official visits of President Topi of Albania and President Basescu of Romania. Most especially, the members of the Order of Malta recall with great affection his unfailing presence at the Order’s annual pilgrimages to Lourdes and to Loreto, and on the exceptional pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And we remember, too, his touching and welcome participation at the Order’s annual international summer camps for the young disabled. In spite of failing health, he insisted on being present at the youth’s camp last summer in Stift Stams, Austria.
Cardinal Patronus of the Order, HE Cardinal Pio Laghi (1922-2009) R.I.P.
Photo: © Order of Malta/Martin Micallef