Cardinal Silvio Oddi, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of the Clergy, was born at Morfasso in the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio (Italy) on 14 November 1910.
He entered the seminary in the same diocese at the age of 11 and was ordained a priest on 21 May 1933. He came to Rome to study at the Angelicum, where he obtained a doctorate in canon law (1936), and at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, where he obtained a diploma. For many years he worked for the diplomatic service of the Holy See in various countries of the world and particuarly in the Middle East. Indeed, his first post for the diplomatic service of the Holy See was the apostolic delegation in Iran, where he was sent in 1936, and then Lebanon in 1939.
He was appointed to the titular Church of Mesembria on 30 July 1953, and consecrated a bishop on the following 27 September at Piacenza Cathedral by the Patriarch of Venice at that time, Angelo Roncalli. He was also nominated apostolic delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine, where he remained for 4 years. In 1957, he served as apostolic internuncio in Egypt until 1962, and then apostolic nuncio in Belgium and Luxemburg until 1969.
He was prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 1979-1986. He was also Pontifical Legate for the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi and worked with Cardinal Roger Etchegaray to prepare the historic World Day of Prayer for Peace, which was held in Assisi on 27 October 1986. He participated in the 1980 Synod, and spoke of the activity of the Congregation for the Clergy, highlighting the importance of catechesis. He explained that, whereas many of the traditional forms of family ministry had been abandoned, nothing had replaced them. He then remarked that the most immediate structure for the catechesis of children is the family, which continues to be a privileged place for religious education.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Paul VI in the Consistory of 28 April 1969, of the Title of S. Agata de' Goti (Saint Agatha of the Goths), deaconry elevated pro illa vice to presbyteral title.
Cardinal Silvio Oddi died on 29 June 2001.