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Celso Benigno Luigi Costantini

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Celso Benigno Luigi Costantini

Celso Benigno Luigi Costantini (April 3, 1876—October 17, 1958) was an Italian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Apostolic Chancellor from 1964 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.


Born in Zoppola, Celso Costantini studied in Rome, where he obtained his doctorates in philosophy and theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 26, 1899, and then did pastoral work until 1914 in Concordia, where he was also elected as capitular vicar. During World War I, Costantini was a military chaplain in the Italian Army. He served as Concordia's vicar general from 1919 to 1920, when he was made Apostolic Administrator of Fiume on May 10.

On July 22, 1921, Costantini was appointed Titular Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia by Pope Benedict XV. He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 24 from Cardinal Pietro La Fontaine, with Bishops Angelo Bartolomasi and Luigi Paulini serving as co-consecrators.

Costantini became the first Apostolic Delegate to China on August 12, 1922, and was advanced to Titular Archbishop of Theodosiopolis in Arcadia the next month, on September 9. During his time in China, he called the first episcopal conference in Shanghai in 1924, made constitutions for the mission in China, helped the foundation of Fu Jen Catholic University and the episcopal promotion of six Chinese priests, and instituted several regional major seminaries. In 1931, he founded the Congregation of the Disciples of the Lord (March 31) and became the Latin Ordinary of Harbin (May 28).

After departing from China in 1933, Costantini entered the service of the Roman Curia, being appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Propagation of Faith on December 20, 1935. As Secretary, he was the second-highest official of that dicastery, under Cardinal Pietro Fumasoni Biondi.

Pope Pius XII created him Cardinal Priest of Santi Nereo e Achilleo in the consistory of January 12, 1953. On May 22, 1954, the Cardinal was named Apostolic Chancellor, opting for the cardinalatial title of San Lorenzo in Damaso on June 9, 1958.

He died in Rome, at age 82. He is buried next to his brother Giovanni, who also entered religion, in his native Zoppola.

Preceded by
Apostolic Delegate to China
Succeeded by
Mario Zanin
Preceded by
Carlo Salotti
Secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith
Succeeded by
Filippo Bernardini
Preceded by
Tommaso Boggiani, OP
Apostolic Chancellor
Succeeded by
Santiago Copello

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