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Laurean Rugambwa

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Styles of
Laurean Rugambwa
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Dar es Salaam (emeritus)

Laurean Rugambwa (July 12, 1912—December 8, 1997) was the first modern native African Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Dar es Salaam from 1968 to 1992, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1960.


Laurean Rugambwa was born to an aristocratic family in Bukongo, Tanganyika (modern Tanzania), and baptized with his parents[1] at age 8, on March 19, 1921. After studying at the Regional Grand Seminary of Katigondo in Uganda, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Burcardo Huwiler, MAfr, on December 12, 1943. Rugambwa then did missionary work in West Africa until 1949, when he went to Rome to study at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, from where he obtained his doctorate in canon law.

On December 13, 1951, Rugambwa was appointed Titular Bishop of Febiana and the first Apostolic Vicar of Lower Kagera. The youngest of Africa's bishops[2], he received his episcopal consecration on February 10, 1952 from Archbishop David Mathew, with Bishops Joseph Kiwanuka, MAfr, and Joseph Blomjous serving as co-consecrators. Upon his Apostolic Vicariate's elevation to a diocese on March 25, 1953, Rugambwa was named Bishop of Rutabo by Pope Pius XII. He was created Cardinal Priest of S. Francesco a Ripa by Pope John XXIII in the consistory of March 28, 1960, and thus became the first native African cardinal. On the following June 21, the diocese was renamed as Bukoba.

The progressive[3] Rugambwa attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965, and was active in implementing its reforms. He was one of the cardinal electors in the 1963 papal conclave that selected Pope Paul VI. Advanced to Archbishop of Dar es Salaam on December 19, 1968, he later participated in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II respectively. The Cardinal, who had known Pope John Paul II from before his election, resigned as Dar es Salaam's archbishop on July 22, 1992, after twenty-three years of service, during which he founded the first Catholic hospital in Ukonga and a female religious order, the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi.

Rugambwa died at 10:15 p.m. in Dar es Salaam, at age 85. He is buried in the metropolitan cathedral of that same city, his remains having been transferred from a parish church in the Kagera Region.


  • In 1961, the Cardinal received an honorary doctorate in laws from the University of Notre Dame[4].
  • Before returning to Tanzania after the August 1978 conclave, he visited the United States, where he then received word of Pope John Paul I's death[5].


  1. TIME Magazine. Seven New Hats March 14, 1960
  2. Ibid.
  3. TIME Magazine. Council of Renewal October 5, 1962
  4. TIME Magazine. Kudos June 9, 1961
  5. TIME Magazine. The September Pope October 9, 1978

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Preceded by
Bishop of Bukoba
Succeeded by
Placidus Nkalanga, OSB
Preceded by
Edgard Maranta, OFM Cap
Archbishop of Dar es Salaam
Succeeded by
Polycarp Pengo
sw:Laurean Rugambwa

no:Laurean Rugambwapt:Laurean Rugambwa

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