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College of Cardinals

Biographical notes

[Updated: 25.02.2013]


Notice: the biographical notes are only a working instrument for the press.


O’BRIEN Card. Keith Michael Patrick

© AP Photo



Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop emeritus of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh (Scotland, GB), was born on 17 March 1938 in Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. 

He was ordained a priest on 3 April 1965. He obtained a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Edinburgh and a diploma in education.

Cardinal O’Brien served as assistant parish priest and as chaplain of St Columba Secondary School in Cowdenbeath, where he taught math. He was spiritual director of St Andrew's College in Drygrange and rector of St Mary’ College, Blairs. 

On 5 August 1985 he was ordained Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh. In 1991, Archbishop O’Brien was awarded the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem: Knight Commander with star. From 1996-1999 he served as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles.

Since March 2002 until 2012, Cardinal O’Brien has been President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.

Archbishop emeritus of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, 18 February 2013.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by the Bl. John Paul II in the Consistory of 21 October 2003, of the Title of Ss. Gioacchino e Anna al Tuscolano (Sts. Joachim and Anne al Tuscolano).

Member of:

  • Pontifical Councils: for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples; for Social Communications; for the Family.

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