Ven. Pius XII

From CNA:

Cardinal remembers Pope Pius XII as wartime hero, saint
By David Kerr

Rome, Italy, Aug 2, 2012 / 04:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- He’s now 96-years-old, but during World War II, Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini was a young priest in a Roman parish who first came face-to-face with Pope Pius XII in the aftermath of an Allied air raid.

“I had the unimaginable surprise to find myself, immediately after the bombing near to the Pope who went to the site of the disaster where I was among the wounded, dead and dying,” he told CNA in Rome.

A native of Rome, Cardinal Angelini is a former President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers. He was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinal in 1991 by Pope John Paul II.

Since his youthful meeting with Pope Pius XII he has also been an outspoken supporter of the wartime pontiff’s record – particularly against those who allege he did not do enough to help the Jewish community in Rome.

Pius XII helped everyone,” Cardinal Angelini said, “the Pope gave an order to open all the convents, seminaries and monasteries. The Pope did his duty.

“For those who knew him and his intelligence and holiness, in accusing him of not having acted in favor of the Jews, they tell lies fully knowing what they are doing.

Despite pleas by Pope Pius XII for the Allied air forces to spare the city of Rome, the Italian capital was hit by 60,000 tons of bombs in the 78 days prior to Rome’s liberation in June 1944.

Cardinal Angelini recalled how Pope Pius XII was fearless during those dark days in comforting the Roman people along with his Assistant Secretary of State, Monsignor Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.

“They came together, leaving the Vatican before the air raid siren had finished ringing, taking the streets after the huge bombing of the English airplanes.”

“In those moments of war,” he said, “there were no distinctions. They were all lives that needed to be saved. We as the Church had to help them.”

Hence he found himself “on the frontline” at the age of 24, “and I found myself there, for the first time, face-to-face with Pius XII. I wouldn’t have ever imagined finding the Pope there so close.”

Despite the passage of nearly 70 years, Cardinal Angelini said he is more certain than ever of one thing – “Pius XII was a saint!”

Do I hear an “Amen!”?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Horatius says:


  2. Darn right he’s a Saint! I have faith that some day the Church will recognize him as such.

    Heck, if Pope Paul VI can be even be considered for canonization, which is something I overheard the other day, then so VERY much more can Ven. Pope Pius XII.

  3. Mike says:

    The Vatican should politely ignore all pleas against the canonization of PPXII.
    Then, quietly, they should give the ADL and others the tomes of info that show this Pope to be a saint.


    (God willing!)

  4. Rushintuit says:

    Sister Pasqualina, recalling the moment that Pius XII was pronouncing the dogma of the Assumption inside St Peter’s Basilica stated, “A deep blue sky extended above the cupola. Beside the sun, one could see the crescent of the moon. How was this possible? Others saw it and were astonished. It created the effect of a wonderful symbol.”

  5. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Father, I hope you don’t mind my promoting a couple of Ven. Pius XII things I came across recently.

    Firstly, the recent film “Under the Roman Sky” with James Cromwell as Pius XII is available on Netflix Instant! This is great because the film was never released in the USA:

    Cromwell does a great and sympathetic job of portraying Papa Pacelli. And the screenplay is sympathetic too!

    Secondly, on Youtube there is a clip from a 1958 German film called (in English) “Embezzled Heaven”. It doesn’t seem to be available on DVD, and too bad. It has several sequences filmed in the Vatican, with the Holy Father being played by…Pius XII himself! It’s marvelous, color photography. In the clip you can see Pius in St. Peter’s, as well as blessing people from the balcony over the square. It also has a very touching Last Rites.

    It is clear from the video that the common image of an icy, aloof Papa Pacelli is quite false!

  6. majuscule says:

    There are so many false stories about him. I received an email with a picture of “Pope Pius XII” supposedly greeting Adolph Hitler.

    Pope Pius XII was my first Pope. He had a very distinctive profile. The person pictured with Hitler was in profile. I have no clue who it was but it was not Pope Pius XII.

    Yet these allegations persist. And sadly, the people who lived through wartime Rome with him are passing on.

  7. adamFERG says:

    I always think of Pope Pius VII as the last supreme pontiff of the classic style. The Bishop of Rome and a Prince. The next few popes dismantled a lot of the almost royal aspects of the papacy, the coronation, etc. etc. Whether that is a good or bad thing is not for me to say.

  8. fvhale says:

    I highly recommend the documentary film about Pope Pius XII, “A Hand of Peace.” It is just about an hour long.

  9. HighMass says:

    We pray P. Pius XII will be raised to the altars soon, GOOD GOOD POPE! As is you Dear Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI!

  10. Michelle F says:

    Ages ago I read a book entitled The Assisi Underground by Alexander Ramati. The author traveled to Europe to interview the people who worked in or who were saved by the “underground railroad” which funneled Jews out of Germany and down through Italy to safety during WWII. He then used the interviews of the people who lived it to tell the story of how the Catholic Church, with His Holiness Pius XII’s knowledge and blessing, saved the lives of thousands of Jews.

    Not only does the book put the lie to Pius XII’s detractors, it contains lessons we can use today.

    One section of the book relates that one day two German officers accompanied by two (I think) Italian soldiers decided to check a convent that the Germans suspected of harboring Jews. The Italians were horrified at the thought of going into a convent, but they could not dissuade the Germans.

    When the soldiers arrived at the convent, they told the nun who was the doorkeeper what they wanted and she let them enter. They were taken to the Mother Superior and, at some point in the conversation, the Germans asked her directly: Are you harboring Jews here?

    The Mother Superior replied, with as much indignation as she could muster, “There is no one here who does not belong here.”

    On hearing this, the Italians were satisfied. The Germans weren’t so sure about it, but the Italians managed to get them back out of the convent before anything else happened.

    The truth of the matter was the convent’s guest house was full of Jews.

    So many people today think it is necessary at times to tell what they call “white lies,” and they frequently use an example similar to the incident above to prove their point. They ask whether, if you were hiding Jews and the Nazis came to your door, you would tell the truth or lie about their presence in your house.

    We can see from the story above that the Mother Superior was hiding Jews, the Nazis came to her door, and she told the truth, “There is no one here who does not belong here,” and by the grace of God the soldiers left and the Jews were saved – as were the nuns, who would have suffered the consequences of hiding Jews.

    Ramati’s book is excellent. He tells the story in a compelling manner, and it tells us a little bit of what actually happened in the Catholic Church during WWII. It also provides some wonderful insights into how we should act in situations wherein people are being persecuted as a matter of official policy. I recommend it to everyone who hasn’t read it.

  11. Treasa says:

    The Assisi Underground has been available as a video and I suspect now as a DVD. The Holy Father sent a directive to the Bishop of Assisi (played by James Mason) to take care of a large group of Jewish men and women who were trying to escape the Nazi’s and get to the U.S.A. It included a famous scientist whom the Nazi’s really wanted for their purposes. They film was good though not as dramatic as the Scarlet and the Black (Gregory Peck, Sir John Gielgud), and very enlightening historically. Please God we will soon see the canonization process for Eugenio Pacelli proceed. He was a wonderful brave man, a Righteous Gentile, a very holy man. The character assassination attempts on Pope Pius XII in recent years were a front for an attack on the Catholic Church. The truth is available for all who wish to know it.

  12. GrogSmash says:

    A hearty, robust, and resounding AMEN!!!!!! to all of the above!

  13. Imrahil says:

    I also have some hope that, the world being as it is (which is, amongst other things: not totally rotten), quite a part of the criticism of Pope Ven. Pius XII would collapse were he beatified or canonized in a nice triumphalistic liturgy.

    Remember what happened to St. Josémaria, who is now universally (rightly) acclaimed a Catholic saint who laid importance on the sanctification of work (even though one who is not Catholic might say he is “too Catholic for me”). Before beatification and canonization, he was quite well-known either, but (falsely) as a part of the black legend come alive.

    Beatification and subsequent canonization could give quite an impetus, even to the world, to foster the change happening even now (yes, there are progresses also) from regarding him (falsely) as a failure at best to regarding this great Pope (rightly) as also a great politician who did what he could in the “times that were given to him” (to quote Tolkien).

  14. First, BaedaBenedictus, thank you so much for the movie recommendation. I found it on Netflix last night and my wife and I stayed up late to watch part of it. It was wonderful and we will probably finish it this weekend. Kudos to James Cromwell for an outstanding performance. This is the second time he has played a Catholic bishop, the first being in one of the movies about Pope John Paul II. And unless I am mistaken, the nun who attends to him is played by none other than Maia Morgenstern, who played the Virgin Mary in The Passion of the Christ.

    Second, one of our chief memories of our pilgrimage to Rome ten years ago is touring the Scavi beneath St. Peter’s, which was discovered during the papacy of Ven. Pius XII. At the end of the tour, you climb the stairs up to the crypt and right there, at the top, is the tomb of Pius XII. It was so deeply moving, discovering that he is entombed so close to St. Peter. We both knealt and prayed.

  15. gracie says:

    Pope Pius XII’s picture was in every classroom in the Catholic elementary school I attended in the 1950s/60s (run by Canadian nuns). Everyone knew who the Pope was and the Sisters always spoke of him respectfully and had the children pray for him. Kids were taught to think of him as a father to all of us which is why I guess I feel comforted whenever I see his picture.

    Otoh, I have no memory of seeing his picture anywhere in the Catholic high school I attended, which was run by the Sisters of Mercy; even though I started there in 1964.

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