Anthony Bevilacqua

Anthony Bevilacqua bigraphy, stories - American cardinal

Anthony Bevilacqua : biography

17 June 1923 – 31 January 2012

Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua (June 17, 1923 – January 31, 2012) was an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Philadelphia from 1988 to 2003, having previously served as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He was created a cardinal in 1991.

Retirement and death

Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 in June 1998, Bevilacqua submitted his letter of resignation to John Paul II, who allowed the Cardinal to continue in his post. He lost the right to participate in a papal conclave when he reached the age of 80 in June 2003. His resignation was later accepted by the Pope on July 15 of that year, and he served as Apostolic Administrator of Philadelphia until the installation of his successor, Justin Francis Rigali, on October 7, 2003.

In retirement, Cardinal Bevilacqua lived at his home on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood. In February, 2011 it was reported that Cardinal Bevilacqua was suffering from cancer and dementia.

In November, 2011, Cardinal Bevilacqua gave a seven-hour deposition in a sealed hearing on the subject of the sexual abuse scandal in the archdiocese. His testimony was videotaped.Bevilacqua also facing a verdict; Even after his death, he has been a key figure in the trial. The outcome could shape his legacy, John P. Martin Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 June 2012

Cardinal Bevilacqua died on January 31, 2012, at age 88 in his home in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2012-02-01 UTC

Early life

Bevilacqua was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Luigi (1884–1961) and Maria (née Codella, 1893–1968) Bevilacqua, who were Italian immigrants. One of eleven children, he had four brothers, Michael, Angelo, Rocco, and Frank; and six sisters, Josephine (died of meningitis at age 2), Isabella, Virginia, Mary Jo, Gloria, and Madeline. Bevilacqua’s father was born in Spinazzola and worked as a bricklayer, and his mother was born in Calitri. Luigi immigrated to the United States in 1910, and was soon followed by his wife and oldest son, Michael. The family lived in New Rochelle; Hartford, Connecticut; and Brooklyn before settling in Woodhaven, Queens, where Luigi operated a hair dying shop and shoe shine shop.

Bevilacqua attended Public School No. 60, St. Thomas the Apostle School, and Richmond Hill High School. He then studied at Cathedral College, where he won prizes in mathematics and science and earned a trip to Washington, D.C. for an essay on the Immaculate Conception. He graduated from Cathedral College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943, and then entered the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington.


Bevilacqua was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1949, at St. James Cathedral. He then served as an associate pastor at the Sacred Heart Church, (Brooklyn), and (Long Island) until 1950. He taught at his alma mater of Cathedral College from 1950 to 1954, and then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, from where he obtained a doctorate in canon law summa cum laude in 1956.

Upon his return to the United States, Bevilacqua served as an official in the diocesan tribunal and as a chaplain to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood. He earned a Master’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 1962, and was named vice-chancellor for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1965. From 1968 to 1980, Bevilacqua was a visiting professor of canon law at Immaculate Conception Seminary. During this time, he also founded the Diocesan Office for Migration and Refugees in 1971, and received a doctorate in civil law from St. John’s University in 1975. He was entitled to practice law in the courts of New York and Pennsylvania, and, in a rarity for U.S. prelates possessing civil law degrees, had been allowed to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, though he never actually argued any cases before the Court.

Bevilacqua was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness on January 23, 1976; he became chancellor of the Diocese that year as well. From 1977 to 1980, he taught immigration law as an adjunct professor at St. John’s University School of Law.