His Eminence Fernando Cento was born on August 10, 1883 in Pollenza, Italy to Evaristo Cento and his second wife Ermelinda Adndreani. He had a half-sister, Rosa and a brother Vincenzo. Cento received his education at the Seminary of Macerata from 1893 to 1905 where he studied philosophy and theology. He continued these studies during his time at Pontifical Gregorian University and later Sapienza University of Rome from which he received a doctorate of letters on December 17, 1905. On December 23, 1905, Cento was ordained as a minister in the Roman Catholic Church. Beginning in 1906, Cento took a position as a professor of literature at the Seminary of Macerata and of philosophy at the State Institute of Macerata. When Italy entered World War One Cento was called to military service and became attached to the military hospital of Ancona from 1915 to 1917.
Following the war, Cento was appointed Bishop of Acireale by Pope Pius XI on July 22, 1922 and was consecrated on September 3, 1922 by Cardinal Giovanni Tacci Porcelli, Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Church. He was promoted to Titular Archbishop of Seleucia Pieria on June 24, 1926 and appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela four days later. This was followed by being named Apostolic Nuncio to Peru on July 26, 1936, where he was also responsible for the affairs of the church in Ecuador (which did not have diplomatic relations with the Holy See). Cento was named nuncio to Ecuador on July 25, 1937 once the Ecuadorian government and the Holy See established diplomatic relations. He was subsequently appointed nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg on March 9, 1946 and became Nuncio to Portugal the same year. He continued taking on new responsibilities when on December 15, 1958, Pope John XXIII Cento was created Cardinal-Priest of Sant'Eustachio. Cento was appointed as Major Penitentiary of Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome on February 12, 1962. He attended the Second Vatican Council and participated in the conclave of 1963 that elected Pope Paul VI. He was named a Cardinal Bishop and given the title of the suburbicarian see of Velletri on April 23 1965; resigning his post of Major Penitentiary in 1967.
Fernando Cento died on January 13, 1973 in Rome and was buried in the parish church of St. Antonio, Pollenza, where he had celebrated his first mass as a child.