Cardinal Bishop of Suburbicarian See of Palestrina
The son of a railway official, Cardinal Gantin has depicted his name, "tree of iron" (gan, tree, tin, iron), on his cardinal's emblem. He was born in Toffo, Benin, archdiocese of Cotonou, on May 8, 1922. He entered Benin's minor seminary in 1936 and was ordained on January 14, 1951. After completing his studies, Gantin stayed at the seminary as a language instructor until coming to Rome to study at the College of St. Peter in 1953. In Rome, he first attended the Pontifical Urban University and then the Lateran University, receiving degrees in Theology and Canon Law. Elected Bishop of Tipasa of Mauritania on December 11, 1956, he was promoted Archbishop of Cotonou on January 5, 1960. As archbishop, Gantin devoted himself to helping the native nuns and clergy. He was President of the Regional Episcopal Conference (Togo, Dahomey, the Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Senegal, Nigeria, and Guinea), when he was called to Rome in 1971 to be Secretary of the Vatican's Propaganda Fide (now called Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples). On June 27, 1977, Paul VI elevated him to the cardinalate. Named on April 8, 1984, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, on June 5, 1993, Gantin also became Dean of the College of Cardinals. He is now Dean emeritus.