Vatican nuncio to U.S. Archbishop Sambi dies

Detailed obituary: Archbishop Sambi, US nuncio since early 2006, dies at age 73

Reaction: US church had ‘highest respect, deepest affection’ for nuncio

Italian Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, is pictured at the nunciature in Washington in a 2008 file photo. He died July 27 after being placed on assisted ventilation following complications from lung surgery. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio to the United States for more than five years, died tonight, apparently from complications of lung surgery performed approximately three weeks earlier.

Last Friday, the nunciature announced that the archbishop had been “placed on assisted ventilation to attempt recovery of his lung function” after undergoing “a delicate lung surgery two weeks ago.”

Archbishop Sambi was 73.

A veteran Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Sambi was named as papal nuncio to the U.S. by Pope Benedict XVI in December 2005. At the time of his appointment he was the Vatican’s representative to Israel and Palestine, where he helped arrange Pope John Paul II’s historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000.

After he arrived in the U.S. Feb. 24, 2006, he said in an interview with Catholic News Service in Washington that that he was impressed by the vitality of U.S. Catholicism, the level of weekly Mass attendance among U.S. Catholics and their generosity toward others.

As a papal diplomat “I travel a lot throughout the world,” he said. “It is difficult to find a part of the world where the charity of U.S. Catholics did not reach the poor or sick people.”

The archbishop is known for his warm and affable manner, sense of humor and being open and ready to listen to people.

Archbishop Sambi greets guests at a papal audience at the Vatican last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Sambi greets guests at a papal audience at the Vatican last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

During Pope Benedict’s April 2008 visit to the U.S., Archbishop Sambi accompanied the pope and during the pontiff’s stay in Washington hosted him at the nunciature, where the pope had a historic private meeting with five victims of clergy sexual abuse.

(Contributing to this story was Julie Asher.)


BREAKING: We received word tonight that Archbishop Pietro Sambi has died. Last Friday night the apostolic nunciature in Washington announced that the archbishop “has been placed on assisted ventilation” since experiencing complications after he underwent “a delicate lung surgery” two weeks earlier.

Jesuits at Oxford find painting believed to be by Michelangelo

A painting of Christ’s crucifixion believed to be the work of Michelangelo has been hanging in the residence of a small Jesuit community at Oxford for more than 70 years.

Purchased at auction by the Campion Hall community in the 1930s, the painting was believed to be the work of Marcello Venusti, one of Michelangelo’s 16th-century contemporaries. But recent tests revealed that the work was indeed created by the Renaissance painter, reports  the National Jesuit News.

The discovery was made by historian and conservationist Antonio Forcellino, who used infrared technology to uncover who he believes is the true creator of the painting.

BBC News reported that the residents were both excited and concerned by the find — excited because they had something very special in their midst, but also concerned that the piece was too valuable to continue hanging on a wall in their residence.

So the work of art has been removed and sent to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at Oxford University for safekeeping, according to the Jesuits.