Raised in a mud-brick bungalow in Nigeria, Francis Arinze began his life in Eziowelle, in Anambra State, in Africa's most populous country. Arinze studied theology in Rome and in 1958 was ordained a priest. After ordination, Father Arinze remained in Rome where he earned a Master's degree in theology in 1959. The following year, he earned his Ph.D. in sacred theology, summa cum laude; his doctoral thesis on "Ibo Sacrifice as an Introduction to the Catechesis of Holy Mass" was the basis for his much-referenced, "Sacrifice in Ibo Religion," published in 1970.
A principal advisor to Pope John Paul II, and a prominent leader of the Catholic church, Arinze was a highly-esteemed papabile for the 2005 papal election. Now as Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni, he continues to strive to improve interfaith communications and cultivate world peace.