Styles of
Eduardo Martínez Somalo
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Thagora (titular see)

Eduardo Martínez Somalo (born March 31, 1927) is a Spanish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.


Early life and ordination

Martínez Somalo was born in the small town of Baños de Río Tobía in La Rioja, Spain, and had five brothers and four sisters. He studied at the diocesan seminary of Logroño, the Pontifical Spanish College and the Pontifical Gregorian University (where he received a licentiates in theology and in canon law) in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 19, 1950 by Archbishop Luigi Traglia.

Pastoral work

He did pastoral and curial work in Calahorra. Returning to Rome to prepare to serve as a Vatican diplomat, he attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (where he later taught as a professor) and obtained a doctorate in canon law in (1956) from the Pontifical Lateran University.

He then entered the Roman Curia, in the Secretariat of State; he later advanced to the head the Spanish section. He was elevated to the rank of Monsignor on May 14, 1970. Pope Paul VI appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Colombia and elevated him to Titular Archbishop of Thagora.


He received his episcopal consecration on December 13 1975, from Jean-Marie Villot, then Secretary of State, with Archbishop Giovanni Benelli and Bishop Francisco Álvarez Martínez serving as co-consecrators. In 1979 Pope John Paul II appointed him to the Secretariat of State.


In the consistory of June 28, 1988, he was created Cardinal Deacon of SS. Nome di Gesù by Pope John Paul II, and on July 1 of that year he was appointed to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

He served as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He was Cardinal protodeacon from January 29, 1996 to January 9, 1999.

Curial prefect

Somalo became Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on January 21, 1992. He also Prefect of the the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Roman Curia. He was a close collaborator of Pope John Paul II.


He was named Chamberlain of the Roman Church, or Camerlengo, on April 5, 1993, an office of special importance during vacancy of the Holy See. He served in that position until his 80th birthday.


He retired on February 11, 2004, and participated as a Cardinal elector in the Papal conclave, 2005. He ceased to be Camerlengo on his 80th birthday, and was succeeded by Tarcisio Bertone, who also serves as Secretary of State.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Giuseppe Caprio
Substitute for General Affairs
5 May 1979–23 March 1988
Succeeded by
Edward Idris Cassidy
Preceded by
Paul Mayer
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Succeeded by
Antonio María Javierre Ortas
Preceded by
Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy
Cardinal Protodeacon
29 January 1996 – 9 January 1999
Succeeded by
Pio Laghi
Preceded by
Sebastiano Baggio
Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
Succeeded by
Tarcisio Bertone
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