Pietro Ciriaci

Styles of
Pietro Ciriaci
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See none

Pietro Ciriaci (2 December 1885 30 December 1966) was an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church who served as prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Council in the Roman Curia from 1954 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.


Ciriaci was born in Rome to Giuseppe Ciriaci and his wife Maria Giuggiolini Magnaterra. Baptized in the church of San Crisogono, he received his first Communion on 27 June 1897. Ciriaci entered the Pontifical Roman Seminary on 31 October 1902, and then studied at the Pontifical Roman Athenaeum S. Apollinare, where he obtained doctorates in philosophy (5 July 1904), theology (6 July 1909), and canon law (8 November 1911).

Ordained to the priesthood on 18 December 1909, he was named vice-pastor of a Roman parish on 18 July 1910. Ciriaci then taught ethical philosophy and later fundamental theology at his alma mater of the Pontifical Roman Athenaeum S. Apollinare until 1926. He entered the Roman Curia as a scrittore of the Apostolic Penitentiary on 21 January 1911, and was promoted to registratore of the same on the following 15 December.

Before being raised to the rank of a Privy Chamberlain Supernumerary on 26 October 1918, Ciriaci was named an official of the Sacred Congregation of the Council (22 February 1913) and of the first section of the Sacred Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs (16 June 1917). He was named Undersecretary of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs on 14 May 1921, and a Domestic Prelate of His Holiness on 27 March 1922.

In 1927, Czechoslovakia replaced the holiday of St. John Chrysostom with that of Jan Hus, a heretic in the eyes of the Catholic Church. The situation had reached such a level that it even caused the Czech nuncio, Archbishop Francesco Marmaggi, to leave his post. On 27 March of that same year, Ciriaci was sent to Czechoslovakia as a special envoy to solve the problem and to conclude the modus vivendi between Czechoslovakia and the Holy See. He successfully solved the problem and an agreement was signed on the following 17 December.

On 15 February 1928, Ciriaci was appointed Nuncio to Czechoslovakia and Titular Archbishop of Tarsus by Pope Pius XI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 18 March from Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, with Archbishop Carlo Cremonesi and Bishop Agostino Zampini, OSA, serving as co-consecrators. Ciriaci was later named Apostolic Nuncio to Portugal on 19 January 1934.

Having served as nuncio to Portugal, as per was the custom, Pope Pius XII created him Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prassede in the consistory of 12 January 1953. Ciriaci was made Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Council on 20 March 1954, and President of the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law on 31 May 1955. After participating in the 1958 papal conclave, he attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965 and served as a cardinal elector in the conclave of 1963 that selected Pope Paul VI. On 26 September 1964, he opted for the cardinalatial title of San Lorenzo in Lucina.

Cardinal Ciriaci died in his Roman residence on Via Rusticucci, at age 81. His funeral Mass was celebrated by Pope Paul on 3 January 1967 in the basilica of San Lorenzo in Lucina. Cardinal Ciriaci is buried in a chapel near the same basilica.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Francesco Marmaggi
Nuncio to Czechoslovakia
Succeeded by
Saverio Ritter
Preceded by
Giovanni Cardinale, OSB
Apostolic Nuncio to Portugal
Succeeded by
Fernando Cento
Preceded by
Giuseppe Bruno
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Council
Succeeded by
Jean-Marie Villot
Preceded by
Massimo Massimi
President of the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law
Succeeded by
Pericle Felici
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