Claudio Santo Maria Rossi was born in the Italian town of Crema. The eldest of five children, he was brought up in South Africa, attending the Marist Brothers Prep School in Port Elizabeth, then St Aidan's College, Grahamstown from 1957 to 1963.
On leaving school. he studied fine art for a year, before entering the major seminary of Pretoria, where he started training for the priesthood for the Diocese of Port Elizabeth. He studied theology in Rome and, after being ordained deacon on December 20. 1970, decided to enter the Society of Jesus, which he did on March 21, 1973. He gained his pastoral diploma from Heythrop College in 1974 and was ordained priest the following year.
He spent the following eight years in southern Africa, first at Mount Pleasant in Salisbury (now the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare), then at Braamfontein in Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by a period as chaplain at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. After his tertianship at St Beuno's in North Wales he served as priest at St Ignatius Parish, Stamford Hill, North London (1983-8), and at St Mary on the Quay in Bristol (1988-96).
Fr Rossi served as parish priest at Braamfontein between 1997 and 2001, and was appointed student chaplain at the University La Sapienza in Rome in 2003.
On the last day of May he was visiting his mother in Palestrina and was leaving flowers in a chapel when he fell 100 feet down a concealed well shaft. The emergency services pronounced him dead at the scene.
His funeral was held at La Sapienza Chapel on June 5, with Requiem Masses at St Ignatius, Stamford Hill. on Tuesday, June 6 and at Braamfontein on June 7.