Cardinal Baldisseri was born in 1940 in the Italian town of Barga, and in 1963 was ordained a priest, while still only 22 years of age, for the Archdiocese of Pisa.
He holds a license in dogmatic theology, a doctorate in canon law, and is a pianist who studied at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music under the late Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci. From 1971 to 1973 he studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy to become a Vatican diplomat.
Cardinal Baldisseri, 73, served in numerous nunciatures, including those to Guatemala, El Salvador, Japan, Brazil, Paraguay, France, Zimbabwe, and Haiti.
In 1992 he was consecrated a bishop and appointed apostolic nuncio to Haiti, which had just experienced a coup. He subsequently served as apostolic nuncio to Paraguay, India, Nepal, and Brazil.
In Brazil, Cardinal Baldisseri achieved an agreement regulating the juridical status of the Church in the country, and which is now a model for every religion wishing to forge an agreement with the Brazilian state. In reaching the agreement, Cardinal Baldisseri had to coordinate with 11 different ministries of the Brazilian administration.
After the achievement of the agreement, Benedict XVI appointed him in 2012 secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, as well as secretary of the College of Cardinals.
During the 2013 conclave, Cardinal Baldisseri served as its secretary. Signaling his desire to elevate then-Archbishop Baldisseri to the college of cardinals, shortly after his election Pope Francis placed his own red biretta on the secretary's head.
Pope Francis then appointed him secretary general of the Synod of Bishops in September 2013, having suggested that he would like the synod to become a permanent advisory body.
That the reform of the synod is one of Pope Francis’ top priorities is shown by the fact that Baldisseri was second in the list of new cardinals, behind only Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and immediately preceding the prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Mueller.
He was among 19 cardinals elevated in the Feb. 22 consistory. He was appointed Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino.
Among the newly elevated cardinals is Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, who was in fact given a Pope Francis' own red biretta minutes after his election as Bishop of Rome.