Raimondi, Luigi

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Cardinal, eighth apostolic delegate to the United States; b. Oct. 25, 1912 in Lussito d'Acqui, a small town in the Piedmont region of northern Italy; d. June 24, 1975 in Rome. At a young age he entered the seminary of the Diocese of Acqui where he received his classical, philosophical and theological training in preparation for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in Acqui, June 6,1936.

Immediately after ordination, Fr. Raimondi was sent to Rome by his bishop in order to pursue graduate studies leading to doctorates in canon law and theology. He obtained both at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1938. While pursuing these studies, he also prepared for a career in the diplomatic service of the Holy See as a student of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (then the Pontificia Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici). In August of 1938, he received his first diplomatic assignment as secretary of the apostolic nunciature in Guatemala.

In 1942, Monsignor Raimondi became the auditor of the Apostolic Delegation in Washington. He served in this capacity throughout World War II until he was named chargé d'affaires of the Holy See's mission in New Delhi, India. While in Washington, Monsignor Raimondi worked for the then apostolic delegate, Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, and had an opportunity to travel extensively throughout the United States. On Dec. 15, 1953, Monsignor Raimondi was appointed titular archbishop of Tarsus and apostolic nuncio to Haiti. In 1957, he was transferred to Mexico to become apostolic delegate to the church in that country. Ten years later, on June 30, 1967, Pope Paul VI named Archbishop Raimondi the eighth Italian prelate to become apostolic delegate to the American Catholic Church.

During a term of almost six years Archbishop Raimondi ordained 22 new bishops, installed others as residential bishops, and oversaw the establishment of 12 new dioceses and three new archdioceses. His pastoral duties took him to virtually every part of the country and even as far as the Trust Territory of the Pacific and Alaska. Archbishop Raimondi represented Pope Paul VI at the funerals of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1969. The years of Archbishop Raimondi's tenure were highlighted by the tensions confronting the Church as it groped through the immediate post-conciliar era. As apostolic delegate, Archbishop Raimondi found himself dealing with these situations within the American Catholic Church from his position of papal authority, which he understood to be a function of love and pastoral solicitude.

When Paul VI created 30 new cardinals on March 5, 1973, the apostolic delegate in the United States was among them. Shortly thereafter, Cardinal Raimondi was appointed by the Holy Father to be prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Saints' Causes. In the brief time that Cardinal Raimondi served in this office, he took a very special interest in furthering the canonization process of both Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton, who was to become America's first native saint (1975), and Bishop John Nepomucene Neumann, the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, canonized in 1977. On June 24, 1975, Cardinal Raimondi was suddenly and fatally stricken with a heart attack while at the Vatican.

[j. m. whalen]