Gadolin was born in Strängnäs, Sweden. In 1736, he studied at The Royal Academy of Turku (which later became the University of Turku). In 1745 he became Master of Philosophy and Professor of Mathematics. He became accomplished in numerous fields such as philosophy and mathematics and from 1753 was a Professor of Physics and in 1762 Professor of Theology. In 1788, he succeeded Jakob Haartman as the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Turku which was then a diocese of the Church of Sweden. He held this position until his death in 1802.
He served as a representative of the clergy in the Diocese of Turku in the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates 1755-56, 1760–62 and 1771-72. In 1751, Gadolin was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
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