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Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló, Archpriest emeritus of the Papal Basilica of St Mary Major, was born on 21 September 1935 in Alfambra, Spain.

He was ordained a priest on 19 March 1960 and exercised his pastoral ministry in the diocese of Teruel. One year later, he was sent to Rome to specialize in canon law and social sciences. After having received a doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University and a degree from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, he entered in 1963 the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. In 1967, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See. He served as secretary at the nunciatures in Pakistan and in Turkey.

On 29 April 1985, he was appointed titular Archbishop of Tamada and received episcopal ordination on 16 June 1985. At the same time, he was nominated apostolic nuncio in Bolivia.

On 2 October 1989, was appointed pro-nuncio in Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. On 24 February 1996, he was appointed nuncio in the then Yugoslavia. He was elected spokesman of the diplomatic corps in Belgrade.
He also served in Argentina (2000-2003); Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (2003-2011), and in Macedonia (2004-2011).

From January 2011 to December 2014, he was Vice-Camerlengo of the of the Holy Roman Church.

On 21 November 2011, he was appointed Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major.

He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.

On December 28th, 2016, the Holy Father Francis accepted his resignation from the office of Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major.  

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 18 February 2012, of the Title of San Ponziano (Saint Pontian), Deaconry elevated pro hac vice to Presbyteral title (4 March 2022).

Member of:

  • Dicastery for the Causes of Saints;
  • Cardinal Commission for the Supervision of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).