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Giovanni Panico

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Styles of
Giovanni Panico
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Iustiniana Prima (titular see)

Giovanni Panico (April 12, 1895—July 7, 1962) was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Nuncio to Portugal from 1959 to 1962, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1962.


Giovanni Panico was born in Tricase to Carmine Panico and his wife Marina Zocco. The sixth of eleven children, he was given the baptismal name was Santo Giovanni. Panico, after studying under a private tutor, attended the seminary in Ugento. He then went to Rome, where he studied at the Leonine College (1910-1915) and Pontifical Roman Seminary (1915-1919). Panico was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Basilio Pompilj on March 14, 1919, in the Lateran Basilica. He then attended the Pontifical Lateran University until 1922, obtaining a doctorate in theology in 1919, and later a doctorate in canon and civil law in 1922).

Panico did pastoral work in Tricase from 1922 to 1923, and was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness on August 25, 1923. He was auditor of the nunciature to Argentina (1926-1931) and to Czechoslovakia (1931-1932) before becoming chargé d'affaires in Bavaria in 1932, and again in Czechoslovakia in 1933. During his time in Prague, he also contributed to the foundation of the University of Bratislava. He was created a Domestic Prelate of His Holiness on August 20, 1934, and later awarded the Légion d'honneur.

On October 17, 1935, Panico was appointed Apostolic Delegate to Australia and New Zealand and Titular Archbishop of Iustiniana Prima by Pope Pius XI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following December 8 from Cardinal Pietro Fumasoni Biondi, with Archbishops Bartolomeo Cattaneo and Domenico Spolvorini serving as co-consecrators, in Rome.

As Apostolic Delegate to Australia and New Zealand Panico believed that the time had arrived for the appointment of native-born priests as Bishops and Archbishops instead of Irish-born priests. This was seen as a very controversial move in some quarters. According to one of the biographers of Archbishop Mannix, Niall Brennan, Panico was a Prelate of 'uncertain ability' and was known widely among the clergy in Australia, as 'Panicky Jack'. He officiated at the Eucharistic Congress of 1938 which was held in Newcastle, New South Wales. He also presided over similar ceremonies in 1939 in Wellington, New Zealand to mark the centenarys of the New Zealand Catholic Church (1838) and of the country of New Zealand itself (the Treaty of Waitangi, 1840).[1] During World War II, Archbishop Panico established charities for Italian, German, and Japanese war prisoners in Australia and the Australian and New Zealand prisoners in Italy.

He was named Nuncio to Peru on September 28, 1948, and Apostolic Delegate to Canada on November 14, 1953.

Pope John XXIII created him Nuncio to Portugal on January 25, 1959, and Cardinal Priest of S. Teresa al Corso d'Italia in the consistory of March 19, 1962. Panico also founded the Cardinale G. Panico Hospital in his native Tricase, where he died at age 67. The Cardinal was originally buried in his family's tomb in the Tricase cemetery, but his remains were later moved to the crypt of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the same town.


  1. Michael O'Meeghan SM, Steadfast in hope: The Story of the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington 1850-2000, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, 2003, pp. 234-237.

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