Titular Archbishop of Palmyra and Apostolic delegate to the Philippines
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Ambrose Agius came from a well-known and highly-esteemed Maltese family, the son of Tancredi Agius and Saverina née Sammut. At the age of 12, he was sent to the Benedictine college of St Augustine at Ramsgate abbey where in 1870 he won the Hales Silver Medal, the main scholastic prize. The following year he left St Augustine’s, spending a year ‘out in the world’ in business, but in 1872 he returned to Ramsgate abbey of the Benedictine Cassinese Congregation of Primitive Observance, moving subsequently to the abbey of the Benedictine Congregation of Subiaco. He took the habit of St Benedict on 12 October, accepting the name of Ambrose. He made his religious profession on 13 December 1873. He was ordained priest on 16 October 1881 in Rome where he completed his divinity studies.
Agius was still a deacon when, in 1881, he was sent to Malta together with the pro-visitor of his congregation to establish a monastery at the priory of Santa Maria at Nigret in Żurrieq. After his ordination, he returned to Malta to join the local Benedictine community. When the monks left Malta, Agius accompanied them to Italy but after a short time he rejoined his community at Ramsgate abbey. In Ramsgate he performed several important duties, such as the post of bursar, considered a preliminary to the more challenging and arduous post as secretary to the procurator of the congregation in Rome where Agius was called in 1893.
For the next eleven years, he discharged exceptional and often very delicate duties, becoming widely known also as a result of the service rendered to the poor in his parish. It is said that Pope Pius X was very disappointed when, in the spring of 1904, the Subiacan congregation did not elect Agius as abbot procurator. In August, the Pope nominated Agius as apostolic delegate to the Philippines. He was consecrated titular archbishop of Palmyra by the cardinal secretary of state Raphael Merry del Val on 18 September 1904 in the church of Sant’Ambrogio in Rome. He left London for New York en route to the Philippines in 1904. Except for a brief visit in 1909 to Europe to report to the Holy See on the state of his archdiocese following the important publication of the Acta Concilii Provincialis Maniliani I, Agius remained in the Philippines. He died after a two-day illness of an acute form of perotinitis.
This biography is part of the collection created by Michael Schiavone over a 30-year period. Read more about Schiavone and his initiative here.