Cardinal Antonio Innocenti, President emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for the Conservation of the Artistic Patrimony of the Church and of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, was born on 23 August 1915 in Poppi, the diocese of Fiesole (Italy).
Following his studies, he was ordained priest on 17 July 1938. Thereafter, he obtained a degree in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University and a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1948. He then began his studies at the Ecclesiastical Academy and in 1950 he acted as secretary of the then apostolic delegation of Leopoldville (Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi). Thereafter, in 1953 he was sent to the Apostolic Nunciature in Switzerland, where he affronted problems of an opulent society, religious assistance to immigrants and relations with Christian of other denominations. In 1960 he was sent to the Internunciature of Holland and in the following year in Egypt. In 1962 he was transferred to Brussels where he represented the Holy See in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. In 1964 he was transferred to Nunciature in France.
On 15 December 1967 he was elected titular Archbishop of Eclano and nominated Apostolic Nuncio in Paraguay. He received episcopal ordination on 18 February 1968.
On 26 February1973, he was named secretary of the Congregation for Sacraments (the congregation was reorganized and united with the Congregation for Divine Worship as the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, July 11, 1975).
On 4 October 1980, he was nominated Apostolic Nuncio in Spain, until 1985.
9 January 1986 - 1 July 1991, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
President Delegate of the VIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, "The Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day" (October 1990).
8 October 1988 - 1 July 1991, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Conservation of the Artistic Patrimony of the Church (on 25 March 1993 this commission changed its name to Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church).
1 July 1991 - 16 December 1995, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of 25 May 1985, of the Title of S. Maria in Aquiro (St. Marie in Acquiro), deaconry elevated pro hac vice to presbyteral title.