Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian

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His Eminence
Grégoire-Pierre XV François Agagianian
Patriarch emeritus of Cilicia; Cardinal
Card. Gregorio Pietro Agagianian.jpg
Agagianian in 1965
See Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Cilicia
Appointed 13 December 1937
Term ended 25 August 1962
Predecessor Avedis Bédros XIV Arpiarian
Successor Ignatius Bedros XVI Batanian
Other posts Cardinal-Bishop of Albano
Ordination 23 December 1917
Consecration 21 July 1935
by Bartolomeo Cattaneo
Created Cardinal 18 February 1946
by Pope Pius XII
Rank Cardinal-Priest (1946-1970)
Cardinal-Bishop (1970-1971)
Personal details
Birth name Gazaros Aghajanian (baptismal name)
Born (1895-09-18)18 September 1895
Akhaltsikh, Russian Empire (present-day Akhaltsikhe, Georgia)
Died 16 May 1971(1971-05-16) (aged 75)
Denomination Armenian Catholic
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Styles of
Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Cilicia

Krikor Bedros XV Aghajanian (classical Armenian: Գրիգոր Պետրոս ԺԵ Աղաճանեան, French: Grégoire-Pierre XV Agagianian, Italian: Gregorio Pietro XV Agagianian; 18 September 1895 – 16 May 1971) was an Armenian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was the head of the Armenian Catholic Church (as Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia) from 1937 to 1962.

Aghajanian was Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in the Roman Curia from 1958–70. Agagianian was elevated to the cardinalate in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.


He was born in Akhaltsikhe (present-day Georgia) and baptized with the baptismal name of Gazaros (English equivalent: Lazarus).[1] Until his election as Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia he was known as Gazaros Agagianian (Ղազարոս Աղաճանեան).[1] Agagianian studied at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. He was ordained as a priest on 23 December 1917. He entered the teaching Faculty of the Pontifical Armenian College in Rome in 1921; he was later Rector of the same college from 1932–37.[2]

Agagianian was appointed Titular Bishop of Comana on 11 July 1935, and was consecrated ten days later at the Church of San Nicola da Tolentino, the national parish of Armenian Catholics in Rome.[1] He was elected Patriarch Catholicos of Cilicia of All the Armenians by the Armenian Synod, on 30 November 1937, with the name of Gregory Peter XV. He played a significant role in the Armenian-populated town of Kesab, as he saved the area from Turkish annexation in 1939 by lobbying support from Parisians to ensure it was exempted from the annexation.[3] On 18 February 1946 he was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Pius XII with the title of Cardinal-Priest of San Bartolomeo all'Isola.[1]

Cardinal Agagianian participated in the papal conclaves of 1958 and 1963. During the papal conclave of 1958 following the death of Pius XII, Agagianian received a large number of votes, eventually approaching the majority needed for election. This was confirmed by the elected pope himself, Pope John XXIII. Cardinal Agaganian was also speculated to be papabile at the 1963 conclave[4] which elected Pope Paul VI and according to the Armenian Catholic Church website, was also rumored to have been actually elected at that conclave but declined to accept.[2]

John XXIII appointed Cardinal Agagianian to be a member of the leading body of the Second Vatican Council together with Cardinals Suenens, Döpfner and Lercaro. Agagianian was Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith from 1958 and full Prefect from 18 July 1960 to 19 October 1970.[1]

Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian resigned as Armenian Patriarch on August 25, 1962.[5] On February 11, 1965 Pope Paul VI decreed in his motu propio Ad Purpuratorum Patrum that Eastern Patriarchs who are elevated to the College of Cardinals would be made cardinal bishops, ranked after the suburbicarian cardinal-bishops, but not part of the Roman clergy and would not be assigned any Roman church or deaconry, their patriarchal see instead becoming their cardinalatial see.[6] However, because Cardinal Agagianian had already resigned from the Armenian Catholic patriarchiate, he remained a Cardinal-Priest with title to his titular church San Bartolomeo all'Isola and was not automatically elevated to the order of Cardinal-Bishops. On October 22, 1970, Cardinal Agaganian was elevated to the order of Cardinal-Bishops as Cardinal-Bishop of Albano. He is the most recent patriarch or former patriarch from an Eastern Catholic Church who became Cardinal-Bishop with title to a suburbicarian see—all other Eastern Catholic patriarchs who have been cardinals since 1965 have been made cardinal-bishops but not assigned to any suburbicarian see.


He died in Rome on 16 May 1971, aged 75, from cancer, and was interred at Church of San Nicola da Tolentino, the same church where he was consecrated a bishop.[1]


In 1938, following the agreement between the French colonial authorities and the Turks, the Sanjak of Alexandretta (later renamed Hatay province) of Syria was annexed to Turkey. In 1939, many parts of the town of Kesab inhabited by Armenians were separated from Turkey and placed within the Syrian boundaries by the efforts of the Armenian community of Paris, Cardinal Agagianian and the Papal representative to Syria and Lebanon Remi Leprert.[7] The Syrian Government under president Bashar al-Assad, honoured Agagianian when one of the main streets of Aleppo was renamed after Cardinal Agagianian.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Agagianian, Grégoire-Pierre XV". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. 
  2. ^ a b "Biography of Gregory Petros XV Agagianian". Armenian Catholic Church. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Conclave A.D. 1963 - Election of Pope Paul VI on YouTube. Accessed 19 October 2013
  5. ^ "Grégoire-Pierre XV (François) Cardinal Agagianian". Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  6. ^ "Ad Purpuratorum Patrum". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 2013-05-27. 
  7. ^ Aztag Arabic:Armenians in Kesab
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Avedis Bedros XIV Arpiarian
Patriarch Catholicos of Cilicia
30 November 1937 – 25 August 1962
Succeeded by
Ignatius Bedros XVI Batanian
Preceded by
Pietro Fumasoni Biondi
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
18 June 1958 – 19 October 1970
Succeeded by
Agnelo Rossi