Franciscan Friar Named Cardinal Says He is Taking a Leap into the Deep

Cardinal-elect Gambetti is one of three Francsicans who will receive a red hat from Pope Francis at a consistory on Nov. 28.

Franciscan friar Mauro Gambetti is consecrated a bishop in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Nov. 22, 2020.
Franciscan friar Mauro Gambetti is consecrated a bishop in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Nov. 22, 2020. (photo: Courtesy photo)

ASSISI, Italy — Franciscan friar Mauro Gambetti was ordained a bishop Sunday afternoon in Assisi less than a week before he will become a cardinal.

At 55 years old, Cardinal-elect Gambetti will be the third youngest member of the College of Cardinals. He said at his episcopal ordination Nov. 22 that he felt he was taking a leap into the deep.

“There are turning points in life, which sometimes involve taking leaps. What I am experiencing now, I consider as a dive from the springboard into the open sea, while I hear myself repeating: ‘duc in altum,’” Cardinal-elect Gambetti said, quoting the command of Jesus to Simon Peter to “put out into the deep.”

Cardinal-elect Gambetti was consecrated a bishop on the feast of Christ the King in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Pontifical Legate for the Basilicas of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Mary of the Angels.

“On the day we celebrate the triumph of Christ’s love, the Church gives us a particular sign of this love through the consecration of a new bishop,” Cardinal Vallini said in his homily.

The cardinal instructed Cardinal-elect Gambetti to use the gift of his episcopal consecration to recommit himself to “manifesting and bearing witness to Christ’s goodness and charity.”

“The oath that you make this evening with Christ, dear Fr. Mauro, is that from today you can look at every person with the eyes of a father, of a good, simple and welcoming father, a father who gives joy to people, who is ready to listen to anyone who wants to open up to him, a humble and patient father; in a word, a father who shows the face of Christ on his face,” Cardinal Vallini said.

“Therefore, ask the Lord to always keep, even as a bishop and cardinal, a lifestyle that is simple, open, attentive, particularly sensitive to those who suffer in soul and body, a style of a true Franciscan.”

Cardinal-elect Gambetti is one of three Francsicans who will receive a red hat from Pope Francis at a consistory on Nov. 28. He has served as the General Custos, or head, of the convent attached to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi since 2013.

The other two Franciscans to be made cardinals are Capuchin Celestino Aós Braco, the archbishop of Santiago de Chile, and 86-year-old Capuchin friar Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, who asked Pope Francis for permission to remain “a simple priest” rather than undergo the customary episcopal ordination prior to receiving his red hat.

Cardinal-elect Gambetti will be the first Conventual Franciscan to become a cardinal since 1861, according to GCatholic.org.

Born in a small city outside of Bologna in 1965, Cardinal-elect Gambetti earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bologna -- the oldest university in the world -- before joining the Conventual Franciscans at the age of 26.

He made his final vows in 1998 and was ordained a priest in 2000. Following his ordination, he served in youth ministry in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna before being elected superior of the Franciscans in the Bologna province in 2009.

Cardinal-elect Gambetti will be one of 13 new cardinals created by Pope Francis in a consistory on Nov. 28. 

“Today I received a priceless gift,” he said after his episcopal ordination. “Now, a dive in the open sea awaits me. To tell the truth, not a simple dive, but a real triple somersault pike.” 

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