Angelo De Donatis

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Angelo De Donatis
Major Penitentiary
Appointed6 April 2024
PredecessorMauro Piacenza
Other post(s)
Ordination12 April 1980
by Antonio Rosario Mennonna
Consecration9 November 2015
by Pope Francis
Created cardinal28 June 2018
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Angelo De Donatis

(1954-01-04) 4 January 1954 (age 70)
Previous post(s)
MottoNihil caritate dulcius
(Latin for 'Nothing is sweeter than love')
Coat of armsAngelo De Donatis's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Angelo De Donatis
Priestly ordination
Ordained byAntonio Rosario Mennonna
Date12 April 1980
PlaceChurch of San Domenico, Casarano
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorPope Francis
Co-consecratorsAgostino Vallini, Beniamino Stella
Date9 November 2015
PlaceArchbasilica of St. John Lateran, Rome
Elevated byPope Francis
Date28 June 2018
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Angelo De Donatis as principal consecrator
Giacomo Morandi30 September 2017
Paolo Riccardi13 January 2018
Daniele Libanori13 January 2018
Gianpiero Palmieri24 June 2018
Dario Gervasi18 October 2020
Enrico Feroci15 November 2020
Benoni Ambăruş2 May 2021

Angelo De Donatis (born 4 January 1954) is an Italian Catholic prelate. He has been Major Penitentiary since April 2024. He was Cardinal Vicar (officially Vicar General of His Holiness) and Archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran from 2017 to 2024.

Prior to his appointment as Cardinal Vicar, De Donatis was an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rome.


Angelo De Donatis was born on 4 January 1954 in Casarano, a comune in the Province of Lecce and the Italian region of Apulia. He attended the seminary of Taranto and the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary. While in Rome, he studied philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology in moral theology.[1]

Priestly ministry[edit]

On 12 April 1980, De Donatis was ordained a priest in the Church of San Domenico in Casarano in the Diocese of Nardò-Gallipoli by Bishop Antonio Rosario Mennonna. He then taught religion at the Church of San Saturnino in Rome, of which he later became vicar. He was incardinated in the Diocese of Rome on 28 November 1983.[1]

From 1989 to 1991, De Donatis was the archivist of the Secretary of the College of Cardinals.[2] He became the spiritual director of the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, where he served until 2003, when he was appointed a parish priest at the Basilica of San Marco Evangelista al Campidoglio in Rome[3] and an assistant for the National Association of Relatives of Clergy.[4] He also served as the director of the clergy of the Vicariate of Rome from 1990 to 1996. He then became a member of the pastoral council and the college of consultors of the Diocese of Rome.[2]

De Donatis was admitted as a knight to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 1989. On 10 April 1990, he was appointed a Chaplain of His Holiness, receiving the title of monsignor.[5]

In 2017 he was a spiritual assistant to the Don Andrea Santoro Association, which marks the anniversary of the assassination in Turkey in 2006 of Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest and seminary classmate of De Donatis.[6] De Donatis has maintained a connection with his hometown by leading spiritual exercises annually during the summer at the Crypt of the Crucifix in Casarano.[7]

He was among seven Roman priests chosen by Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu to eat lunch with Pope Francis after the Chrism Mass in 2013, just two weeks after the Pope's election.[8] In October 2013, Pope Francis, who had met De Donatis only once at that lunch, chose him to preach the 2014 Lenten spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia, an assignment that for fifty years had been given to a cardinal or well-known theologian.[8][1]

Episcopal ministry[edit]

Styles of
Angelo De Donatis
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
De Donatis (left) with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (center) and Msgr. Enrico Feroci (right) at Caritas Roma in 2017[9]

De Donatis was appointed by Pope Francis on 14 September 2015 the Titular Bishop of Mottola and an Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, where he was responsible for the training of the clergy.[10] He was consecrated a bishop in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran on 9 November 2015. Pope Francis was the principal consecrator, while Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Vicar General of Rome, and Cardinal Beniamino Stella, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, acted as co-consecrators. De Donatis adopted his coat of arms with the episcopal motto "nihil caritate dulcius", a phrase taken from Saint Ambrose, which translates from the Latin as "nothing is sweeter than charity".[11]

On 29 April 2016, De Donatis was appointed the rector of the Church of San Sebastiano al Palatino in Rome. On 6 June of that year, he oversaw the jubilee of priests during the Extraordinary Jubilee of 2016 in the Diocese of Rome and was involved in the organization of the jubilee activities in the Diocese of Trapani. He also led the Confessio Vitae during the jubilee year in the Archdiocese of Milan.[12]

In September 2016, De Donatis published Nulla è più dolce dell'amore (Nothing is Sweeter than Love), a collection of twenty reflections on the various forms of mercy as interpreted through the Bible.[13]

On 26 May 2017, Pope Francis appointed De Donatis the Vicar General of Rome and Archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran,[14] elevating him as well to the rank of archbishop.[15][16][2] The Vicar General serves as de facto bishop of Rome on behalf of the pope. Pope Francis ignored the rule that the vicar general of Rome must be a cardinal.[a] De Donatis is the first person since the sixteenth century to be named Vicar General when not a cardinal.[19][b] As Vicar General he serves ex officio as Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University.[24] At the same time, he was made the apostolic administrator of the Suburbicarian Diocese of Ostia.[25]


On 20 May 2018, Pope Francis announced he would make De Donatis a cardinal at the next consistory.[26] At the consistory on 28 June 2018, he was assigned the deanery of San Marco,[27] the same church where he served as a parish priest fifteen years earlier.

De Donatis was the apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Italy from 11 July 2019[28] to 24 October 2020.[29]

On 12 March 2020, when public Masses were already prohibited in Italy, De Donatis ordered Rome's churches closed to the public. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski and others opened churches anyway. On 13 March he ordered that parish churches could open provided they took appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He said he spoke with Pope Francis before issuing each of those orders. In a letter to the diocese he wrote: "The risk of health care structures collapsing is evident.... We can contain this tragic eventuality only by applying measures to stop the contagion and allow the national health service to reorganize.... Draw close to one another — not physically, but with solidarity.... Unfortunately, going to church is no different than going anywhere: There is a risk of contagion."[30]

After testing positive for COVID-19, De Donatis entered the Agostino Gemelli University Policlinic with a fever on 30 March 2020; he had not been in physical contact with Pope Francis or visited the Vatican recently.[31] He was released on 10 April and continued to recuperate at home.[32]

Cardinal De Donatis was criticised by victims of Marko Rupnik's alleged spiritual and sexual abuse who expressed "bewilderment" with the Diocese of Rome's statement praising the art and theology centre he founded.[33]

In January 2023, Pope Francis reorganized the Diocese of Rome, greatly restricted the role of vicar general. He defined the role of each auxiliary bishop and took direct charge of many diocesan decisions.[34][35] He defined the vicar general's role as a coordinator of the work of diocesan bodies, defined him as an auxiliary, and restricted his sphere of responsibility with the rule that the vicar general "will not undertake important initiatives or ones exceeding ordinary administration without first reporting to me".[36]

On 6 April 2024, Pope Francis appointed him Major Penitentiary.[37] The pope told his auxiliaries that he would "take time to carry out a healthy discernment" before naming a new vicar general.[38]

Coat of arms[edit]

Coat of arms of Cardinal Angelo De Donatis
Angelo De Donatis' coat of arms


Tierced inverted pall: in the first, red division of the field is contained a winged lion with a halo, with the head front-facing, while crouching and holding with its front legs in front of its chest a golden book bearing in black, capital letters PAX TIBI MARCE in four rows on the first side, and EVANGELISTA MEUS in four rows on the second side. In the second blue division on the right-hand side is a charge of a silver umbraculum. In the third, silver division is a branch with an open pomegranate. A gothic patriarchal cross is behind the shield and a galero, signifying De Donatis' archiepiscopal status.[39]

Before being appointed the Vicar General of Rome, De Donatis' coat of arms as auxiliary bishop was divided into red and silver fields, without the umbraculum on the blue field.[40]

Episcopal motto[edit]

The words of De Donatis' Latin episcopal motto, nihil caritate dulcius ("nothing is sweeter than love" in English), are taken from St. Ambrose's De officiis ministrorum (in English: On the Duties of the Clergy): "Be among you the peace that surpasses all feeling. Love one another. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing more pleasing than peace."[40]


The lion of St. Mark the Evangelist, chosen in honor of the saint to whom is dedicated the parish he led before being appointed a bishop, stands on red, which is the color of love and blood. The umbraculum, the symbol of the Bishop of Rome, over a blue background, representing the detachment from earthly values and the ascent of the soul to God. At the bottom is a pomegranate, the symbol of the Passion of Christ, on a background of silver, which symbolizes the purity of the Virgin Mary to whom De Donatis entrusts his episcopal ministry.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ When Pope John Paul II named Camillo Ruini his vicar general on 17 January 1991, he gave him the title "pro-vicar general", the formula used when an appointee could anticipate receiving the proper title eventually. Ruini became a cardinal on 28 June of that year and was named vicar general on 1 July.[17][18]
  2. ^ In 1558 Pope Paul IV decreed that the Vicar General of Rome is always a cardinal or is made a cardinal soon after being appointed.[20] De Donatis was not created a cardinal at the consistory that followed the announcement of his appointment as Vicar by a month, and Vatican observers disagreed as to whether he would be made a cardinal at the next consistory. A source close to Pope Francis said: "Tout comme le pape a créé cardinal un évêque auxiliaire qui continuera à l'être, cela correspond bien à la volonté de François de bien séparer, d'un côté, le rôle pastoral de l'évêque et, de l'autre, la charge cardinalice au service de l'Église universelle." ["Just as the pope made an auxiliary bishop a cardinal while remaining an auxiliary, that suits his desire to distinguish the bishop's pastoral role on the one hand from a cardinal's responsibility for service to the universal church."][21] Other reports predicted De Donatis would be made a cardinal: "A decree instituted by Pope Paul IV in 1558 also holds that the Vicar of Rome must be a cardinal. Since Pope Francis has already named him as an archbishop, it's likely Donatis could be added to the list of 5 prelates who will get a red hat during the June 28 consistory."[22][23]


  1. ^ a b c "Conclusione Degli Ezercizi Spirituali del Santo Padre e Della Curia Romana" [Conclusion of the Spiritual Exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia]. Vatican Press (in Italian). 14 March 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Resignations and Appointments, 26.05.2017" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  3. ^ "La Parrocchia, Presbiterio, S. E. Mons. Angelo De Donatis" [Parish Presbytery: Mons. Angelo De Donatis]. Parish of the Basilica of San Marco Evangelista (in Italian). Archived from the original on 21 June 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Nomine. Angelo De Donatis vescovo ausiliare di Roma" [Appointments: Angelo De Donatis Auxiliary Bishop of Rome]. Avvenire (in Italian). 14 September 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Persona: S.E. Mons. Angelo DE DONATIS" [Person: Mgr. Angelo de Donatis]. Diocese of Rome: Vicariate of Rome (in Italian). Archived from the original on 9 July 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  6. ^ Passantino, Filippo (6 February 2017). "Don Andrea Santoro, maestro della "pace di Dio"" [Don Andrea Santoro, master of the "peace of God"]. RomaSette (in Italian). Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Programmi ANNUALI 2015/2016" [Annual Program 2015/2016]. Cripta Crocefisso. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b Tornielli, Andrea (22 October 2013). "Il parroco che predica gli esercizi al Papa" [The Parish Priest who Preaches the Spiritual Exercises to the Pope]. La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Roma, la visita del premier Gentiloni alla cittadinella della Caritas" [Rome, the visit of Prime Minister Gentiloni to the Citizen of Caritas]. La Republica Roma. 1 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Papa nomina mons. De Donatis nuovo ausiliare di Roma" [Pope Appoints Mons. De Donatis New Auxiliary of Rome]. Vatican Radio (in Italian). 14 September 2015. Archived from the original on 15 May 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Il Papa ordinerà vescovo monsignor De Donatis". Roma Sette (in Italian). 6 November 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Scola: "Giubileo sacerdotale, un momentoo di testimonianza per tutto il nostro popolo"" [Scoa: "Priestly jubilee, a moment of witness to all our people"]. Jubilee of Mercy from the Diocese of Milan (in Italian). 11 April 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2017.[dead link]
  13. ^ "Nulla è più dolce dell'amore [De Donatis]" [Nothing is Sweeter than Love (De Donatis)]. Paoline Press Office (in Italian). 6 September 2016. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  14. ^ Harris, Elise (26 May 2017). "Pope taps Bishop Angelo de Donatis as new Vicar of Rome". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  15. ^ Zema, Angelo (26 May 2017). "Monsignor De Donatis nuovo vicario di Roma" [Monsignor De Donatis New Vicar of Rome]. RomaSette (in Italian). Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Vicario di Roma, il Papa sceglie monsignor Angelo De Donatis" [Vicar of Rome, the Pope chose Monsignor Angelo De Donatis]. Vatican Insider (in Italian). 26 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  17. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXXIII. 1991. pp. 161, 630, 631. Retrieved 7 April 2024.
  18. ^ "Ruini Card. Camillo". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2017. On 17 January 1991 he was named Archbishop and Pro-Vicar General of the Pope for the Diocese of Rome.... Named Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome ... 1 July 1991.
  19. ^ "Francis appoints "pastor" as new vicar of Rome". Crux. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2017. By tradition, the vicar of Rome is the "Cardinal Vicar of Rome," and all other vicars have been named a cardinal before taking up the post. In fact, in 1991, Pope John Paul II named Bishop Camillo Ruini "pro-vicar general" for Rome, not appointing him "vicar general" until after he was created a cardinal six months later. Francis seems to want to make the position more focused on the local Church, instead of dealing with the various Curial assignments occupying much of the time of all cardinals living in Rome.
  20. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (27 May 2017). "Nuovo Vicario generale del Papa. Un anno e mezzo fa era parroco" [New Vicar General of the Pope. A year and a half ago he was a pastor]. La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  21. ^ Senèze, Nicolas (26 May 2017). "Mgr Angelo De Donatis nouveau vicaire du pape pour le diocèse de Rome". La Croix (in French). Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  22. ^ Harris, Elise (26 May 2017). "Pope taps Bishop Angelo de Donatis as new Vicar of Rome". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  23. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (27 May 2017). "Nuovo Vicario generale del Papa. Un anno e mezzo fa era parroco". La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 3 June 2017. Il Vicario di Roma è sempre stato creato cardinale (se non lo era già, come nel caso di Vallini)
  24. ^ "Pope Francis names Archbishop Angelo De Donatis as Vicar for the Diocese of Rome". The Tablet. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  25. ^ Miranda, Salvador (13 November 2019). "Biographical Dictionary: Pope Francis (2013–): Consistory of June 28, 2018 (V)". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Florida International University Libraries. Archived from the original on 2 August 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  26. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (20 May 2018). "Concistoro a giugno, ecco i nuovi cardinali di Francesco" (in Italian). La Stampa. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  27. ^ "Concistoro Ordinario Pubblico: Assegnazione dei Titoli, 28.06.2018" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  28. ^ "Pope creates Apostolic Exarchy for Ukrainians in Italy". Vatican News. 11 July 2019. Archived from the original on 12 July 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  29. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 24.10.2020" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 24 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  30. ^ Wooden, Cindy (13 March 2020). "Rome cardinal closes all churches, then modifies decision". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 7 April 2024.
  31. ^ Lamb, Christopher (31 March 2020). "Rome cardinal tests positive for Covid-19". The Tablet. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  32. ^ "De Donatis dimesso dal Gemelli". Roma Sette (in Italian). 10 April 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  33. ^ "Rupnik's victims say Diocese of Rome's statement 'ridicules' their pain". Catholic News Agency.
  34. ^ Gagliarducci, Andrea (15 January 2023). "Analysis: Pope Francis centralizes authority with reform of Diocese of Rome". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  35. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (7 January 2023). "Pope Francis reorganizes Diocese of Rome in face of 'epochal change'". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  36. ^ Cernuzio, Salvatore (6 January 2023). "Pope Francis reorganises Vicariate of Rome to be more collegial". Vatican News. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  37. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 06.04.2024" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 6 April 2024. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  38. ^ "Comunicazione del Vicariato di Roma". Diocese of Rome (in Italian). 8 April 2024. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  39. ^ "Mons. Angelo De Donatis, nuovo Vicario Generale di Sua Santità per la Diocesi di Roma" [Monsignor Angelo De Donatis, new Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome]. Church of Saint Joseph of Carpenters (in Italian). Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  40. ^ a b c "Descrizione dello stemma episcopale di S.E.R. Mons. Angelo De Donatis" (PDF). Parish of the Basilica of St. Mark the Evangelist. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 November 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2017.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Rome
Succeeded by
Preceded by — TITULAR —
Bishop of Mottola
Succeeded by
as Archbishop of Mottola
Preceded by
as Bishop of Mottola
Archbishop of Mottola
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome
Archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University
Apostolic Administrator of the Suburbicarian Diocese of Ostia
Preceded by Cardinal Protector of San Marco
Preceded by Major Penitentiary