Agagianian XV, Gregory Peter

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Cardinal and Catholic Armenian patriarch; b. Akhaltsikhe, Russian Georgia, Sept. 18, 1895; d. Rome, May 16, 1971. Agagianian's intellectual gifts were recognized early, and at 11 he was sent to Rome for education at the Urbanian Athenaeum. He received doctorates in philosophy, theology, and Canon Law.

After ordination in 1917, Agagianian taught for two years in Rome and then from 1919 to 1921 did pastoral work among Armenian Catholics in Tiflis, Georgia. He was recalled to Rome and appointed vice rector of the Pontifical Armenian College, becoming rector in 1932. He also taught at the Urbanian. In 1935 he was consecrated titular bishop of Comana and appointed papal emissary to Lebanon. In 1937 the Synod of Catholic Armenian Bishops elected him patriarch of the Catholic Armenians and catholicos of Cilicia, near Beirut. Baptized Lazarus A., he assumed the name Gregory, along with Peter, which Catholic Armenian patriarchs take as a symbol of loyalty to Rome.

In 1946 Pope Pius XII made Agagianian a cardinal. In 1958 he became proprefect of the Congregation for the

Cardinal Agagianian, 1961, Rome. (© David Lees/CORBIS)

Propagation of the Faith, and in 1960, prefect, holding the post until his retirement in 1970. As head of the Vatican congregation concerned with mission work he traveled widely, and because of this and his duties on other Vatican congregations and commissions he resigned his office as patriarch. He was a key figure at the Second Vatican Council, serving as a presiding officer and helping to draw up the missionary decree Ad Gentes.

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