In memory of Br Giovanni Martinelli, Bishop Emeritus of Tripoli

On 30 December 2019 Br. Giovanni Martinelli, Titular Bishop of Tabuda and Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, died at the Sacred Heart Convent in Saccolongo, Padua in the Province of St. Anthony of Northern Italy. His funeral was celebrated on 2 January 2020 in the parish church of Pozzo di S. Giovanni Lupatoto, Verona, and he was buried in the Bishops’ Chapel in Verona Cathedral.

He was born in El Khadra (Tarhuna) Tripolitania, Libya on 5 February 1942 and entered the Franciscan seminary of St. Francis in Tripoli, under the care of the friars of Lombardy, on 15 October 1952. In June 1956, he continued his seminary studies in Italy, first in Lombardy and then in the OFM Salerno-Lucan Province.

He was ordained a priest in Nocera (SA) on 28 June 1967. He obtained his Licentiate in Theology the following year at the Lateran in Rome and enrolled in the Pontifical College for Arabic and Islamic Studies.

In 1971 he came to the Church of St. Francis in Tripoli.  In 1985, he was elected Bishop, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli and Apostolic Administrator of Benghazi.  The Consecration took place in Tripoli in the Church of St. Francis on 4 October 1985.

Bishop Giovanni was held captive by a Revolutionary Committee in Benghazi from 10-19 April 1986.

Diplomatic relations between Libya and the Holy See (10 March 1997) were re-established through the exchange of ambassadors, thanks to Bishop Giovanni’s help.

On 24 October 2015, he left to spend his vacation in Salerno and for health reasons, remained there until January 2017. Then at the request of his family, he was transferred to Saccolongo, Padua ad Ora.

A true Franciscan friar and a zealous bishop for his Church, he was born poor and lived his whole life poor like St. Francis, and a man of dialogue, peace and hope. He lived his life as he had chosen his motto “In Humility and Patience”.

His last words spoken in Tripoli: “I do not think that our love should end with death. Love and friendship have no borders and are the challenge for every Christian”.