At the time of the repose of Pope Pius XII, His Beatitude Krikor Bedros (Gregory Peter) XV Cardinal Aghaganian, of blessed memory, was considered a strong candidate for election to the papacy.
Having retired the year previous, he was then Emeritus-Catholicos & Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenias for All the Catholic Armenians and was serving as Prefect of the Congregation for Propagation of the Faith. I’d have to double-check but, as memory serves, he and His Beatitude Ignace Gabriel Cardinal Tappouni, of blessed memory, Patriarch of Antioch & All the East of the Syriacs were the sole Eastern/Oriental Catholic cardinals at the time.
Life Magazine ran an article on papabile, including photos of each. His Beatitude, who was a handsome man, made a striking impression in a full-page photo, garbed in the non-liturgical vesture appropriate to a patriarch. Since it was likely the first exposure of the average American to any Eastern hierarch (Westerners, including Catholics, knew even less of us then than they do now - difficult as that may be to believe), I’m sure it made a vivid impression on the magazine’s readers. I know it did on me - and I had significantly more experience of the East than did the many of my fellow American Latins.
Certainly, as is always the case with papabile. the discussion of him as likely to be elected was speculative, but I would disagree with my brother Joe’s dismissal of how close he came to such as being mere hearsay. There were convincingly strong reports (to the absolute puzzlement of folks who could not fathom who or what a patriarch was) that, other than Cardinal Roncalli who went on to be elected, he was the principal vote-getter .And, in later years, a prominent hierarch who was not yet a Cardinal at the time of Blessed John XXIII’s election was heard to affirm in conversation that he personally knew this to have been the case.
Why would he have been such a strong candidate? He was a very affable man, quite personable, multi-lingual, and reportedly highly regarded by his fellow hierarchs. Too, it was the Cold War era and the idea of electing a Pope with ties to a suppressed nation might have appealed as possibly being someone who could successfully deal with Communism. Guesses? Certainly, but there is no doubt in my mind that His Beatitude was “in the running”.