Cardinal Carlo Furno, Grand Master Emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Archpriest Emeritus of the Patriarchal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, was born on December 2, 1921 in Bairo (Turin) and grew up in Aglié Canavese, also in the Turin region. His father was named Giuseppe and his mother Maria Bardesono.
He attended elementary schools in Aglié and received his secondary education at the Bishop's College of Ivrea. In 1938 he began his philosophical studies at the Ivrea seminary, where he also studied theology. After finishing his studies for the priesthood, he was ordained in wartime on June 25, 1944.
He carried out his ministry in the Diocese as a curate for three years in Ozegna (Turin). He studied theology for a year at the then Pontifical Salesian Athenaeum 'della Crocetta' in Turin, and later moved to Rome where, as a student of the Pontifical Roman Seminary for Juridical Studies, he took courses at the law faculty and received his doctorate 'in utroque iure' in 1953.
In the meantime he completed the two-year course at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and in July of the same year was sent to Colombia, first as attaché and then as secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature. Four years later he was transferred to Ecuador and three years after that, to the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem.
In September 1962 he started service in what was then the First Section of the Secretariat of State, where he worked for 11 years, at the same teaching diplomatic style at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy from 1966 to 1973.
On 1 August 1973 Pope Paul VI appointed him titular Archbishop of Abari and Apostolic Nuncio in Peru. He received episcopal ordination in Aglié on 16 September of the same year.
On 25 November 1978, shortly after his election as Successor of Peter, John Paul II transferred him to Lebanon, where he served as Apostolic Nuncio in that war-torn land.
He was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil on August 21, 1982 and stayed there for about 10 years until he was recalled to Rome on April 15, 1992 to serve as Apostolic Nuncio in Italy (until November 1994).
On 16 December 1995 until June 27, 2007, he was Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
On 6 June 1996 (until November 1998), he was appointed as Pontifical Delegate of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
From September 29, 1997 until May 27, 2004, Archpriest of the Patriarchal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of November 26, 1994, of the Title of S. Onofrio (St. Humphrey).