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Valerian Gracias (October 23, 1900—September 11, 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 cardinalate in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.
Valerian Gracias was born in Karachi (in modern Pakistan) to José (d. 1902) and Carlota Gracias. His parents were from Navelim, Goa, working in Karachi. He studied at St. Patrick's High School in Karachi, St. Joseph Seminary in Mangalore, and the Pontifical Seminary of Kandy in Ceylon (from where he obtained his doctorate in theology). Ordained to the priesthood on October 3, 1926, Gracias then did pastoral work in Bandra until 1927, when he entered the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome that November. He finished his studies at the Gregorian in 1929 and became private secretary to Archbishop Joachim Lima, SJ, and diocesan chancellor of Bombay. He served as preacher, pastor, and editor on various newspapers before being named the first Indian rector of Holy Name Cathedral in December 1941.
On May 16, 1946, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay and Titular bishop of Thennesus. Gracias received his episcopal consecration on the following June 29 from Archbishop Thomas Roberts, SJ, with Bishops Victor Fernandes and Thomas Pothacamury serving as co-consecrators. Pope Pius XII promoted him to Archbishop of Bombay on December 4, 1950, and created him Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Via Lata in the consistory of January 12, 1953. He thus became the first cardinal from India. Gracias was considered to be a conservative.
From 1954 to 1972, he was President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. Gracias was one of the cardinal electors in the 1958 papal conclave and again in the conclave of 1963. He attended the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and along with Joseph Ritter, he assisted Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian in delivering one of the closing messages of the Council on December 8, 1965. Falling ill in May 1978, the Cardinal did not participate in the conclaves of August and October 1978.
He was awarded the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award on January 26, 1966.
Thomas Roberts, SJ
|Archbishop of Bombay|
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