Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna, Italy, was born in Rome on 11 October 1955, the fifth of six siblings.
In 1973, as a student at the Virgilio Lyceum, he met Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant’Egidio Community, and began to frequent the community and to collaborate in its activities of service to the disadvantaged: from popular schools for marginalized children from Roman slums, to initiatives for the elderly who are alone and not self-sufficient, for immigrants and the homeless, for the terminally ill and nomads, the disabled and drug addicts, prisoners and victims of conflicts; its ecumenical activities for Christian unity; and its work in interfaith dialogue, which took shape in the Assisi Meetings. At the age of 22, after obtaining a degree in letters and philosophy from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, with a thesis on the history of Christianity, he entered the seminary in the suburbicarian diocese of Palestrina, following the course of preparation for the priesthood at the Pontifical Lateran University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in theology.
He was ordained a priest for the clergy of Palestrina on 9 May 1981, in the Cathedral of Sant’Agapito martire, by Bishop Renato Spallanzani. He was immediately appointed as vicar to the parish priest of the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia. In 2000, when the latter was elected as bishop, it was natural for “don Matteo” – as he is still known today – to assume the role, which he subsequently held for ten years. He was incardinated in Rome on 15 November 1988, and was also rector of the church of Santa Croce alla Lungara from 1983 to 2012, and member of the diocesan presbyteral council from 1995 to 2012. In the second five-year period as parish priest in Trastevere, from 2005 to 2010, he was also prefect of the third prefecture of Rome and from 2000, and from 2000 to 2012, general ecclesiastical assistant of the Sant’Egidio Community, after performing a mediation role in Mozambique, with Riccardi, in the process that led to peace after more than seventeen years of bloody civil war.
In the meantime, in 2010 he left the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere to begin his ministry as a parish priest in the parish of Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela, one of the most populous communities of the diocese, in the eastern outskirts of the city; and in 2011 he also became prefect of the seventeenth prefecture of Rome. Shortly afterwards, on 31 January 2012, he was appointed by Benedict XVI as titular bisho of Villanova and auxiliary of Rome.
He received episcopal ordination the following 14 April, from the then-cardinal vicar Agostino Vallini; with the co-consecrators Archbishop Giovanni Battista Pichierri and Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, now archbishop, his predecessor as parish priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere and as ecclesiastical assistant to the Sant’Egidio Community. He selected the motto Gaudium Domini fortitude vestra, and assumed the pastoral care of the Central Sector.
On 27 October 2015, Pope Francis promoted him to the metropolitan see of Bologna, successor of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, and he entered the cathedral of San Petronio on 12 December of the same year. After convening the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress, which opened on 13 November 2016, he received the Pope on a visit to the principal city of Emilia Romagna on 1 October 2017. A year later, he participated in the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to young people.
He is the author of publications of a pastoral nature.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 5 October 2019, of the Title of Sant’Egidio.
- Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development;
- Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.