Anastasio Ballestrero

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His Eminence Servant of God
Anastasio Ballestrero
Archbishop Emeritus of Turin
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese Turin
See Turin
Appointed 1 August 1977
Installed 25 September 1977[1]
Term ended 31 January 1989
Predecessor Michele Pellegrino
Successor Giovanni Saldarini
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (1979-98)
Ordination 6 June 1936
by Carlo Dalmazio Minoretti
Consecration 2 February 1974
by Sebastiano Baggio
Created Cardinal 30 June 1979
by Pope John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero
Born 3 October 1913
Genoa, Kingdom of Italy
Died 21 June 1998 (aged 84)
Bocca di Magra, Ameglia, Italy
Previous post
Motto In omnia bonitate et veritate ("In all goodness and truth")
Coat of arms Anastasio Ballestrero's coat of arms
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Servant of God
Styles of
Anastasio Ballestrero O.C.D.
Coat of arms of Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Turin
Ordination history of
Anastasio Ballestrero
Diaconal ordination
Date of ordination December 1935
Priestly ordination
Ordained by Carlo Dalmazio Minoretti
Date of ordination 6 June 1936
Place of ordination San Lorenzo, Genoa, Kingdom of Italy
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator Sebastiano Baggio
Co-consecrators Michele Mincuzzi
Enrico Romolo Compagnone, O.C.D.
Date of consecration 2 February 1974
Place of consecration Santa Teresa, Rome, Italy
Elevated by Pope John Paul II
Date of elevation 30 June 1979
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Anastasio Ballestrero as principal consecrator
Vittorio Bernardetto 7 July 1978
Severino Poletto 17 May 1980
Benigno Luigi Papa, O.F.M. Cap. 27 December 1981
Egidio Caporello 19 September 1982
Fernando Charrier 11 November 1984
Sebastiano Dho 24 August 1986

Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero (3 October 1913 – 21 June 1998) - in religious Anastasio del Santissimo Rosario - was an Italian Roman Catholic cardinal and professed member from the Discalced Carmelites who served as the Archbishop of Turin from 1977 until his resignation in 1989.[1][2][3][4] Ballestrero was elevated to the cardinalate in 1979 and became a leading progressive voice in the Italian episcopate during his time as the head of the Italian Episcopal Conference in the pontificate of the conservative Pope John Paul II.[1] Ballestrero likewise was known for being reserved when it came to the Shroud of Turin as opposed to the enthusiasm of John Paul II for the relic. The cardinal allowed for testing of the shroud and announced that the relic itself was a product of the Middle Ages as opposed to the genuine burial cloth of Jesus Christ.[4][2]

The beatification process was launched in Turin and he became titled as a Servant of God. The diocesan process for the cause opened in late 2014 and started the collection of testimonies and documents from both Turin and Bari.[2][1][3]


Childhood and education[edit]

Alberto Alberto Ballestrero was born in Genoa on 3 October 1913 as the first of five children born to Giacomo Ballestrero and Antonietta Daffunchio. He was baptized on 2 November 1913 in the Santa Zita parish with the name "Alberto".[2] His father worked in a Genoese port while his mother oversaw her children's religious formation. Two siblings died in the first few months of their lives. His mother died in 1923 after the birth of her final child in late 1922.[1]

Ballestrero attended a school in Genoa from 1919 to 1922. He was enrolled at the Collegio Belimbau in 1922 before he received his Confirmation in the San Martino di Albaro church on 3 May 1923; he made his First Communion the next month on 21 June.[2] He left the Collegio Belimbau in 1923 in order to pursue ecclesial studies to become a priest.

Profession and priesthood[edit]

On 2 October 1924 he commenced his ecclesial studies under the direction of the Discalced Carmelites in Varazze. Ballestrero then joined that religious order in Savona and took both the habit on 12 October 1928 and the name Anastasio del Santissimo Rosario.[2] He made his initial profession on 17 October 1929. He was later transferred to the Genoese convent of Santa Anna in September 1932 for his philosophical and theological studies. But in 1932 he suffered from a life-threatening infection (and recovered in hospital from October to December 1932) before he made his solemn profession on 5 October 1934.[2]

He received the subdiaconate and then the diaconate in 1935 before he received his solemn ordination to the priesthood in the San Lorenzo Cathedral on 6 June 1936 but required a special dispensation for it due to the age requirement.[3] He began teaching philosophical studies at the "studentato" of Genoa-S. Anna from 13 August 1936 and initiated a preaching apostolate in a Genoese hospital (the "Bertani") from 1 January 1937.[2] In the late 1930s he was in Paris for further studies. Ballestrero was prior of the Santa Anna convent from 22 April 1945 to 1948 and was again elected as prior on 7 May 1954 after becoming the provincial for the Ligurian province of the order on 3 April 1948.[4] Before attending the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965 he was twice elected as the general provost for the order on 9 April 1955 and later on 21 April 1961; he remained in that position until 20 May 1967. Ballestrero visited all 350 Carmelite convents and 850 Carmelite monasteries in the world except in Hungary which refused him entrance into the nation. He once served as President of the Union of Superior Generals.[2] During the Second Vatican Council he became friends with Henri de Lubac and was considered a close collaborator to the pope.

Episcopate and cardinalate[edit]

On 21 December 1973 he was appointed as the Archbishop of Bari. He received his episcopal consecration on in the Santa Teresa church 2 February 1974 in Rome from Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio with Bishops Michele Mincuzzi and Enrico Romolo Compagnone serving as the co-consecrators.[1] Pope Paul VI later named him as the Archbishop of Turin on 1 August 1977; he was enthroned in his new see on the following 25 September.[1] He was later being elected as the Vice-President for the Italian Episcopal Conference on 25 May 1978 and then served as its President from 18 May 1979 to 3 July 1985.[4] In 1975 he preached the Spiritual Exercises to Paul VI and the Roman Curia.[3]

Pope John Paul II elevated him into the cardinalate and named him as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria sopra Minerva on 30 June 1979. Ballestrero resigned as the Archbishop of Turin on 31 January 1989 and retired to the Santa Croce convent in La Spezia; he lost the right to vote in a papal conclave on 3 October 1993 after he turned 80.[4]

Ballestrero attended the various episcopal gatherings that the pope called and he was also appointed as a special papal representative to the inaugural ceremonies of the Theresian Year that commemorated the fourth centennial of the death of Saint Teresa of Avila which was from 14 October until 15 October 1981 in both Alba de Tormes and Ávila.[2] He was a noted theologian and was the author of a range of books of mediations and on Saint John of the Cross.[3]

He became known for his progressive beliefs and he rejected some of the popular Catholic movements such as Communion and Liberation. John Paul II reproached him for this to which he was said to have replied: "Holiness, when you get to know them better, you won't like them either!"[4]


Ballestrero died at his residence in La Spezia at 3:00pm on 21 June 1998 due to a long illness. His funeral was celebrated on 25 June. He is buried in the San Giuseppe del Deserto church attached to the same Carmelite convent in Varazze that he had entered in 1924.[2][3]

Beatification process[edit]

The Piedmont Bishops announced their intention - in an announcement on 4 February 2014 - that it would seek to initiate the cause for Ballestrero's potential beatification following a unanimous vote on the matter. The first move to launch the cause was to transfer the forum for the diocesan investigation from La Spezia (where the cardinal died) to Turin. The diocesan process was launched on 9 October 2014 in a Mass that Cesare Nosiglia presided over. Thus far there have been over 30 testimonies collected and as of 2015 there were 25 being sought from Bari.

The postulator for this cause is the Discalced Carmelite priest Romano Gambalunga.



In reference to abortion the cardinal once declared that the Church must "never renounce its mission of evangelization and education of the human conscience".[5]

Shroud of Turin[edit]

He placed the Shroud of Turin - in 1978 - on exhibit for the first time in four decades. One of those pilgrims who visited the shroud during this exhibit would be the future Pope John Paul II who visited just six weeks prior to his election. Ballestrero would later host the pope to Turin in 1980 with the pope coming to venerate the relic.[4]

Ballestrero agreed to scientific testing being performed on the Shroud of Turin in October 1978 but refused to permit radiocarbon dating testing as it required removing samples from the shroud itself.[6] Once technical improvements made it possible to use samples the size of postage stamps the cardinal permitted samples to be cut in April 1988 which he himself supervised to ensure it was carried out in an appropriate manner.[7] These would be tested in three labs in Switzerland as well as in the United States and the United Kingdom.[4]

Following the radiocarbon dating tests the cardinal announced on 13 October 1988 that the shroud was dated from the Middle Ages and thus not the actual burial cloth of Christ (he said the findings were 95% accurate); although these tests were later believed to be invalid due to erroneous sampling.[7]

In November 1983 the pope named him as the first Pontifical Custodian for the shroud which opened rumors that the relic might be transferred to Rome; the pope was enthusiastic about the shroud but Ballestrero was more reserved about the shroud.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero (cardinale)". Order of the Discalced Carmelites General Postulation. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "BALLESTRERO, O.C.D., Anastasio Alberto". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Servo di Dio Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Obituary: Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Russell, George; Wynn, Witon (1 June 1981). "Italy: Not Yet Hale, but Hearty". TIME. Time Inc. Retrieved 22 September 2012.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ Ostling, Richard N.; Coile, Norma; Moynihan, Robert (24 October 1988). "Religion: Debunking The Shroud of Turin". TIME. Time Inc. Retrieved 22 September 2012.  (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b Van Biema, David; Dorfman, Andrea; Burke, Greg; Penner, Martin (20 April 1998). "Science and the Shroud". TIME. Time Inc. Retrieved 22 September 2012.  (subscription required)

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Enrico Nicodemo
Archbishop of Bari
21 December 1973–1 August 1977
Succeeded by
Andrea Magrassi, O.S.B.
Preceded by
Michele Pellegrino
Archbishop of Turin
1 August 1977–31 January 1989
Succeeded by
Giovanni Saldarini
Preceded by
Antonio Poma
President of the Italian Episcopal Conference
18 May 1979–3 July 1985
Succeeded by
Ugo Poletti
Preceded by
Dino Staffa
Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
30 June 1979–21 June 1998
Succeeded by
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor