Giovanni Colombo

His Eminence
Giovanni Colombo
Cardinal, Archbishop of Milan
Church Catholic Church
See Milan
Appointed 10 August 1963
Term ended 29 December 1979
Predecessor Giovanni Battista Montini (Paul VI)
Successor Carlo Maria Martini
Ordination 29 May 1926
by Eugenio Tosi
Consecration 7 December 1960
by Giovanni Battista Montini
Created Cardinal 22 February 1965
by Pope Paul VI
Rank Cardinal-Priest of San Martino ai Monti
Personal details
Born (1902-12-06)6 December 1902
Caronno Pertusella, Italy
Died 20 May 1992(1992-05-20) (aged 89)
Buried Cathedral of Milan
Previous post Auxiliary Bishop of Milan
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Giovanni Colombo (6 December 1902 – 20 May 1992) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Milan from 1963 to 1979, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965.


Early life and priesthood

Giovanni Colombo was born in Caronno Pertusella, Lombardy, the sixth of the seven children of Enrico and Luigia (née Millefanti) Colombo. His mother worked as a shirt-maker and embroiderer. Colombo was baptized two days after his birth, on 8 December.

Initially studying with the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Ivrea, he then attended seminaries in Seveso, Monza, and Milan (where he obtained a doctorate in theology in 1926), and received a doctorate in letters from the Catholic University of Milan in 1932. Receiving the clerical tonsure on 26 May 1923, Colombo was eventually ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Eugenio Tosi, OSSCA, on 29 May 1926 in the Cathedral of Milan. He was then made Professor of Letters at the Seveso seminary in October of that same year.

At the seminary in Venegono Inferiore, he served as Professor of Italian (named in October 1931), Professor of Sacred Eloquence (1932–1944), and rector (2 August 1939 – 1953). Professor of Italian language and literature at the Faculties of Education and of Letters and Philosophy of the Catholic University of Sacro Cuore of Milan, 1937–1939. Colombo was raised to the rank of Monsignor on 7 December 1948, and later Rector Major of the Seminaries of Milan on 23 July 1953. On 30 August 1954, he administered Extreme Unction to Ildefonso Schuster, who would be beatified in 1991.


On 25 October 1960, Colombo was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Milan and Titular Bishop of Philippopolis in Arabia. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 7 December from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, with Archbishop Anacleto Cazzaniga and Bishop Giuseppe Schiavini serving as co-consecrators. Sitting on the Conciliar preparatory commissions for seminaries and universities, Colombo attended the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), during the course of which he was named by Pope Paul VI to succeed him as Archbishop of Milan on 10 August 1963. Along with Bernardus Johannes Alfrink, he assisted Achille Liénart in delivering one of the closing messages of the Council on 8 December 1965.[1]

Cardinalate and death

He was created Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti by Pope Paul VI in the consistory of 22 February 1965, and was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the conclaves of August and October 1978. In the latter conclave, the ill Cardinal obtained many votes as a compromise candidate between Giuseppe Siri and Giovanni Benelli, but he stated that he would decline the papacy in the event of his election[2] and so Karol Wojtyła was elected instead. He retired as head of the Milanese see on 29 December 1979.

Tomb of Giovanni Colombo.

Colombo died in Milan, at age 89. He is buried under the pavement of the right side nave in front of the altar that contains the remains of Blessed Cardinal Schuster in the Milan Cathedral.


  1. Christus Rex. To Rulers
  2. Thomas J. Reese, SJ; Inside The Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church; page 99, published 1996 by Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-93261-7

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Montini
Archbishop of Milan
10 August 1963 – 29 December 1979
Succeeded by
Carlo Maria Martini, SJ
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