Roman Catholic Cardinal. Parma born Paolo Dezza entered the Jesuit Order on December 2, 1918, undergoing studies in Madrid, Spain; Naples, Italy; and Innsbruck, Austria. Ordained priest in Naples on March 25, 1928, he soon made name as a brilliant scholar. Named professor of philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he soon had to spend several years in Switzerland due to health reasons. Upon completing his theological studies, he taught metaphysics again at the Pontifical Gregorian University from 1929 until 1932. Elected provincial for the Jesuit province of Venice and Milan in 1935, on August 5, 1941 he was named head of the Gregorian University. Assisting in the preparation of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, he helped found a centre for scholastic philosophy at Gallarate called the Aloisianium of which he was named professor of metaphysics and rector in 1939. Baptizing Israel Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome in 1945, Dezza was considered to be a leading candidate in the election for a new Jesuit General in 1946. Faculty member of the San Roberto Bellarmino College from 1951 until 1965 and general delegate for the Jesuit International Houses between 1951 and 1962, as of 1951 he served as general secretary the International Federation of Catholic Universities. Confessor of Popes Paul VI and John Paul I, he was named general assistant of the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in 1965, regional assistant for Italy and admonitor to the superior general in 1973. Appointed president of the Commission of Superior Studies of the Society of Jesus in 1974 and general assistant of the Society of Jesus, when the Superior General, Father Pedro Arrupe, suffered a stroke in 1981, Pope John Paul II, in a highly rare and historic decision intervened and appointed Father Dezza to serve as the Jesuits' interim leader instead of Father Vincent O'Keefe, nominated by the Jesuits themselves. The said Pontiff, who back in years happened to be one of his students, created him cardinal deacon in the consistory of June 28, 1991 with the deaconry of Sant'Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio. Passing away in Rome on Friday, December 17, 1999, aged 98, he was temporarily buried in the mausoleum of the Society of Jesus at Campo Verano Cemetery of Rome, from where his remains were eventually transferred to the church of Sant'Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio on Sunday, December 17, 2006, and re-buried in a specially constructed marble sarcophagus in his deaconry.
NEL SUO TITOLO
IL CARDINALE PAOLO DEZZA S.I.
DELLA SEDE APOSTOLICA E DELLA COMPAGNIA DI GESÙ
PARMA 13.12.1901 ROMA 17.12.1999