In March 2004 Pope John Paul II named her president of the academy, marking the first time a woman has been named president of one of the major pontifical academies.Once described as "God's Lawyer" by the Boston Globe, upon confirmation by the Senate, Glendon will be the eighth American representative to the Pope since the establishment of HS-US diplomatic relations in 1984.
The social sciences academy focuses on issues related to the social sciences, economics, politics and law. Although autonomous, the academy works in consultation with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Glendon, 69, was the first woman named to head a Vatican delegation to a major U.N. conference; in 1995, Pope John Paul named her head of the Vatican delegation to the U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing.
Glendon's research has focused on bioethics, human rights, the theory of law and comparative constitutional law.
Since 2001, she also has served on the President's Council on Bioethics, which advises the U.S. president.
In addition to teaching at Harvard, she has been a visiting professor at Jesuit-run Gregorian University and the Legionaries of Christ's Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum, both in Rome.
A native of Berkshire County, Mass., she lives with her husband, Edward R. Lev, in Chestnut Hill, Mass. They have three daughters.
However, only one other woman has gotten to call Villa Richardson -- the Vatican ambassador's residence -- a perk of her job: Lindy Boggs, the former Louisiana congresswoman, mother of Cokie Roberts and "first citizen of New Orleans," who held the post during Bill Clinton's second term.
PHOTO: Tanit Sanakini/Boston Globe