Valerian Gracias (23 October 1900, Karachi, British India to 11 September 1978, Bombay, India) 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. He was an oblate of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists).


Valerian Gracias was born in Karachi (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 (from where he obtained his doctorate in theology). Ordained to the priesthood on 3 October 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 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 serving as co-consecrators. Pope Pius XII promoted him to Archbishop of Bombay on 4 December 1950. He was created and proclaimed Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria in Via Lata in the consistory of 12 January 1953, becoming the first cardinal from India.[2] Gracias was considered to be a conservative.[3]

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 8 December 1965.[4] Falling ill in May 1978,[5] the Cardinal did not participate in the conclave of August 1978, and died before the conclave of October 1978.

Cardinal Gracias died from cancer in Bombay, at age 77.[5] He was buried in Holy Name Cathedral.

He was awarded the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award on 26 January 1966.


  1. ^ Profiles of eminent Goans, past and present by J. Clement Vaz, p. 45
  2. ^ "A Cardinal for India". Time Magazine. 5 January 1953. Retrieved July 12, 2016. 
  3. ^ TIME Magazine. In Search of a Pope 21 August 1978
  4. ^ Christus Rex. To Youth
  5. ^ a b TIME Magazine. Milestones 25 September 1978

External links

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