Valerian Gracias

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Valerian Gracias
Cardinal, Archbishop of Bombay
Appointed4 December 1950
PredecessorThomas Roberts
SuccessorSimon Pimenta
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Via Lata
Ordination3 October 1926
by Ivan Dias
Consecration29 June 1946
by Thomas Roberts
Created cardinal12 January 1953
by Pope Pius XII
Personal details
Born(1900-10-23)23 October 1900
Karachi, British India
Died11 September 1978(1978-09-11) (aged 77)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous postAuxiliary Bishop of Bombay (1946–1950)

Valerian Gracias (23 October 1900 – 11 September 1978) was an Indian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Bombay from 1950 until his death and was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.


Valerian Gracias was born in Karachi, British India (in modern Pakistan), to José (d. 1902) and Carlota Gracias. His parents were from Dramapur/Navelim, Goa, working in Karachi.[1] He studied at St. Patrick's High School in Karachi, St. Joseph Seminary in Mangalore, and the Pontifical Seminary of Kandy in Ceylon,[1] where he obtained his doctorate in theology. Ordained to the priesthood on 3 October 1926,[2] Gracias then did pastoral work in Bandra until November 1927, when he entered the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He finished his studies at the Gregorian in 1929 and became private secretary to Archbishop Joachim Lima SJ and diocesan chancellor of Bombay.[1] He served as a preacher and pastor, and as the editor of various newspapers before being named the first Indian rector of Mumbai's Holy Name Cathedral in December 1941.

On 16 May 1946, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay and Titular bishop of Thennesus. Gracias received his episcopal consecration on the following 29 June from Archbishop Thomas Roberts SJ, with Bishops Victor Fernandes and Thomas Pothacamury as co-consecrators. Pope Pius XII promoted him to Archbishop of Bombay on 4 December 1950 to replace Roberts, a 57-year-old Englishman, who made way for the appointment of a native-born Indian.[3] Gracias demonstrated his support of Goan nationalism and an opponent of Portuguese colonial rule by presented an image of the Virgin Mary as an indigenous Indian, at a time when the populace was still accustomed to European representations.[4]

On 29 November 1952 Pope Pius XII announced he would create 24 new cardinals, increasing the size of the College of Cardinals to 70 members, its maximum at the time.[5] When one of those Pius named died on 28 December,[6] the Vatican announced on 29 December that Gracias would be made a cardinal, the first from India.[7] He was made Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria in Via Lata in the consistory of 12 January 1953.[8] Gracias was considered to be a conservative.[9] The Portuguese government denied reports that it was displeased with the honor bestowed upon Gracias.[10]

He was one of the 51 cardinal electors in the 1958 papal conclave and one of the 80 in the conclave of 1963. He attended the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), where he was one of 21 Council participants to present the closing messages of the Council on 8 December 1965.[11] He hosted the first papal visit to India in 1964, when Pope Paul VI attended the International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay,[1] preceded by a symposium of Catholic theologians to which he invited Hans Küng.[12] He later said that that Pope Paul VI's Bombay visit inspired his encyclical Populorum progressio (1967).[2] In 1970 he was one of 15 prelates chosen to organize the 1971 Synod of Bishops, and he supported Pope Paul against critics of his approach to church governance and insistence of priestly celibacy.[13] From 1954 to 1972, he was President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India and in 1972 helped overcome Vatican skepticism and win Pope Paul's approval of the formation of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences.[14]

He fell ill in May 1978[15] and did not participate in the conclave of August 1978. Gracias died from cancer in Bombay 11 September 1978 at age 77.[15] He was buried in Holy Name Cathedral in Mumbai.

He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan award, second-highest civilian award of the Republic of India, on 26 January 1966.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d Vaz, J. Clement. Profiles of Eminent Goans, Past and Present. pp. 45–7.
  2. ^ a b "Interview mit dem Erzbischof von Bombay, Kardinal Valerian Gracias" [Interview with the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Valerian Gracias] (Interview). Österreichischer Mediathek. 11 May 1967. Retrieved 23 June 2018. The interview is conducted in English.
  3. ^ Novak, Michael (2002). The Open Church. Routledge. p. 159.
  4. ^ Albuquerque, Teresa (2000). "Liberation and the Goa Ethos". In Borges, Charles J.; Guilherme Pereira, Oscar; Stubbe, Hannes. Goa and Portugal: History and Development. Concept Publishing Company. p. 224. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  5. ^ Cortesi, Arnaldo (30 November 1952). "24 New Cardinals Named by Vatican; American Included" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Msgr. Agostini, 64, Succumbs in Italy" (PDF). New York Times. 28 December 1952. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Prelate in India to be a Cardinal" (PDF). New York Times. 30 December 1952. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  8. ^ "A Cardinal for India". Time. 5 January 1953. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "In Search of a Pope". Time. 21 August 1978.
  10. ^ "Lisbon Endorses Gracias" (PDF). New York Times. 22 January 1953. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Council Closing Messages". Christus Rex. Archived from the original on 31 October 1996. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  12. ^ Küng, Hans (2003). My Struggle for Freedom: Memoirs. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 407. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  13. ^ Hofmann, Paul (16 May 1970). "Pope Reproaches Belgian Cardinal". New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  14. ^ Fox, Thomas C. (23 February 2009). "Beloved 'Asian John XXIII' laid to rest in Korea". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Milestones". Time. 25 September 1978.
  16. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Public Section. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
Additional sources
  • De Souza, Bento S. (1971). India's First Cardinal: Highlights in the Life of Valerian Cardinal Gracias. Examiner Press.
  • Pimenta, Simon (2002). Cardinal Valerian Gracias: His Life and Ministry. St. Paul's.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Thomas Roberts SJ
Archbishop of Bombay
Succeeded by
Simon Pimenta