Former chief rabbi of Rome dies

Toaff remembered for historic meeting with Pope John Paul II.

Rome's former Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff died on 19 April, two weeks before his 100th birthday.

Toaff served as the Rome's chief rabbi for 51 years, until 2002, and is best remembered for his historic meeting with Pope John Paul II at the capital's synagogue in 1986.

Toaff JPII

Toaff, who previously served as the chief rabbi of Venice, also co-officiated at a deeply symbolic papal concert commemorating the Holocaust in 1994.

Italian premier Matteo Renzi has described Toaff as a "great Italian" while the current chief rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni praised his predecessor's "gigantic" role in the history of the Jewish community. Pope Francis remembered Toaff as a "man of peace and dialogue."

Toaff's coffin will be laid in state at Rome's synagogue on 20 April from 11.00-13.30, and his funeral takes place later in the day in his native Livorno.