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Pierre-Marie Paul Gerlier
Born (1880-01-14)January 14, 1880
Versailles France
Died January 17, 1965(1965-01-17) (aged 85)
Lyon France
Nationality French
Title Cardinal, Archbishop of Lyon
Predecessor Louis-Joseph Maurin
Successor Jean-Marie Villot
Styles of
Pierre-Marie Gerlier
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Lyon

Pierre-Marie Gerlier (January 14, 1880 – January 17, 1965) was a French Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Lyon from 1937 until his death, was Primate of Gaul and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1937.


Pierre-Marie Gerlier was born in Versailles, and was a lawyer before deciding to pursue an ecclesiastical career. Indeed, after attending the University of Bordeaux, he studied at the seminary in Issy for late vocations. Gerlier studied at the seminary in Fribourg before serving as an officer of the French Army in World War I, during which he was wounded and captured. Ordained to the priesthood on July 29, 1921, he then did pastoral work in Paris, where he was also the archdiocesan Director of Catholic Works.

On May 14, 1929, Gerlier was appointed Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes by Pope Pius XI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following July 2 from Cardinal Louis-Ernest Dubois, with Bishops Benjamin Roland-Gosselin and Maurice Dubourg serving as co-consecrators, in Notre Dame Cathedral. Gerlier was named Archbishop of Lyon on July 30, 1937, and was created Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Trinità al Monte Pincio by Pope Pius in the consistory of December 13 of that same year. As Lyon's archbishop, he held the honorary title of Primate of Gaul. From 1945 to 1948, he served as Vice-President of the French Episcopal Conference.

During World War II, Gerlier condemned Pierre Laval's deportation of Jews to Nazi death camps,[1] the severe conditions of which he also opposed.[2] Moreover, he asked that Roman Catholic religious institutes take Jewish children into hiding.[2] For his efforts to save Jews during World War II he was posthumously awarded the title Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1981.[3]

He was one of the cardinal electors in the 1939 papal conclave (at which he was considered papabile[4]), which selected Pope Pius XII, and participated again in the 1958 conclave, which resulted in the election of Pope John XXIII. Living long enough to attend only the first three sessions of the Second Vatican Council, Gerlier was also a cardinal elector in the conclave of 1963 that chose Pope Paul VI.

The Cardinal died from a heart attack in Lyon, at age 85.[5] He is buried in Lyon Cathedral.


  • He championed the Worker-Priest movement[5] and ecumenism, including endorsing the Taizé Community.[6]
  • In 1950, Gerlier described the film Caroline chérie, starring French sex symbol Martine Carol, as "a scandalous display of vice".[7]
  • He received Édouard Herriot's deathbed conversion to Catholicism in 1957.[8]

See also

  • David Feuerwerker


  1. TIME Magazine. The Inquisition September 28, 1942
  2. 2.0 2.1 Leaders of the Church During the Vichy Regime. Cardinal Pierre Marie Gerlier Archived 2007-02-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. "Righteous Among the Nations Recognized by Yad Vashem as of 1 January 2008 - France". Yad Vashem. Retrieved 2016-08-08. 
  4. TIME Magazine. Death of a Pope February 20, 1939
  5. 5.0 5.1 TIME Magazine. Milestones January 29, 1965
  6. TIME Magazine. The Brothers of Taize September 5, 1960
  7. TIME Magazine. The Cardinal & Caroline June 22, 1953
  8. TIME Magazine. At the Bedside November 30, 1959

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alexandre-Philibert Poirier
Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes
May 14, 1929–July 30, 1937
Succeeded by
Georges-Eugène-Emile Choquet
Preceded by
Louis-Joseph Maurin
Archbishop of Lyon
July 30, 1937–January 17, 1965
Succeeded by
Jean-Marie Villot

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