Rino Fisichella was born in Codogno, near Milan, on August 25, 1951. As a student of Almo Collegio Capranica, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome on March 13, 1976. 1980 he was awarded a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University where he taught from 1981 to 2001, rising to become Professor-in-Ordinary of Fundamental Theology.
From 2002 to 2010 he was Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, combining this office with that of President of the Pontifical Academy for Life from 2008 to 2010. On June 30, 2010 he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the first President of the newly constituted Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. He is also a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
He is regarded internationally as one of the leading Italian theologians, having authored or edited some twenty books—many of which translated into several languages—in addition to many articles contributed to national and international scholarly journals. He has been a visiting professor at several Italian and overseas universities and has also lectured in various European countries (Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Hungary) as well as in the United States, Brazil, the Philippines, Turkey, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Colombia. In 2005 he was awarded the Gold Medal for Culture by the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.