Cardinal Giovanni Canestri, Archbishop emeritus of Genoa, was born on September 30, 1918 in Castelspina, diocese of Alessandria (Italy).
He was ordained priest on April 12, 1941 and began his pastoral ministry in Rome. In August 1959 he was nominated spiritual director of the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary and was member of the commission for the first diocesan synod of Rome. He also served as Apostolic examiner of the clergy.
On July 8, 1961 he was elected Titular bishop of Tenedo, and auxiliary of the Cardinal vicar of Rome. He received episcopal ordination on July 30, 1961.
Participated in the general congregations of Vatican Council II on the themes of ecumenism and religious liberty.
On January 7, 1971 he was transferred to the see of Tortona.
On February 8, 1975 he was transferred to titular see of Monterano, with personal title of archbishop, and appointed vicegerent of Rome. During this time he was very dedicated to the growth and development of the community, defending the values of the human person, especially the value of life.
On March 22, 1984 he was nominated Archbishop of Cagliari.
On July 6, 1987 he was transferred to the metropolitan see of Genoa.
Archbishop emeritus of Genoa, April 20, 1995.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of June 28, 1988, of the Title of S. Andrea della Valle (St. Andrew of the Valley).