Man of Peace – Prophet – Protector of Victims of War
For us, Pope Pius XII is definitely a hero of our Church. We want to focus on the part of his life where he had to stand up against the powers of hell, which in his case were Hitler and Mussolini. This excerpt is from our latest book, Saints, Maligned, Misunderstood and Mistreated. To read the entire chapter, get the book. Let us begin at the beginning of World War II
World War II begins!
September 1, 1939 Nazi tanks rumbled into Poland. The Poles didn’t have a chance! On October 27, 1939, Pope Pius XII openly condemned Hitler’s attack on Poland, with his encyclical, Summi Pontificatus. To show his support of Italy’s neutrality, His Holiness paid a visit to King Victor Emmanuel III and Queen Elena at their palace and congratulated them on their decision to remain neutral.
When the Nazis invaded Denmark and Norway in April of 1940, His Holiness Pius XII sent telegrams filled with his condolences, promising to pray for their deliverance from their oppressors.
Mussolini joined forces with Hitler and the Nazis stormed into Rome in September, 1943. They were under siege! The Pope set about saving as many Jews as he possibly could. He ordered monasteries and convents to offer refuge to the Jews. His Holiness invited Jews and other refugees to join the Palatine guards, increasing their number from four hundred to four thousand.
Calls came in from all over Europe, from Jews and other refugees, pleading with His Holiness for help. Five hundred Jews set out for Palestine; but were refused landing permission in Istanbul. Subsequently, they were captured by an Italian patrol boat and all were imprisoned in a concentration camp in Rhodes. One of the Jews was able to send a plea to Pope Pius XII, whereupon His Holiness (unknown to the Axis), had the prisoners transferred to an improvised camp in southern Italy, where they were safe, until they were freed December, 1943.
The world is under siege by the enemy of God…
The world is, day by day, falling into the hands of the godless ones, but does our Pope despair? He will go down in the History of our Church as one of her greatest Popes. People felt lost. They did not know where to turn. It looked hopeless and they felt helpless! Pope Pius XII knew what to do! Bring men closer to Christ! Make Jesus in the Holy Eucharist more accessible to His children. Let them know, beyond a shadow of a doubt they are not alone – He is with us to the end of the world!
Institute liturgical reforms!
Pope Pius XII initiated the evening Mass; he instituted the new Eucharistic fast regulations; and brought about more participation of the Laity in the Mass. From where did His Holiness draw his fortitude and discernment to face the daily challenges of the world, and subsequently lead God’s children to Him? If he were alive, he would answer – from the Eucharist (with his daily two hours before the Blessed Sacrament) and the Holy Mass.
Then in answer to that question, he would say, as son of Mary, from His Mother. She was his strength and solace. Pope Pius has been called (and rightly so) the “Pope of Mary.” Although we have always believed, from the very beginning, that Mother Mary was taken up, body and soul to Heaven by Her Son Jesus, it was Pope Pius XII, on November 1, 1950, who declared the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God a doctrine of the Faith. In his prayer to Our Lady of the Assumption, our dear, much maligned Pope pleaded with his Mother to turn Her eyes “toward this world, held in the clutches of wars, persecutions, oppression of the just and the weak. And from the shadows of this vale of tears, we seek in your heavenly assistance and tender mercy comfort for our aching hearts and help in the trials of the Church, and of our fatherland. Comforted by our faith in future resurrection, we look to you, our life, our sweetness and our hope.”
He consecrated Russia and the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in 1942. Then in 1945, he initiated the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In addition, he encouraged the use of the Brown Scapular of Carmel. And the times so dire, he initiated the Apostleship of Prayer. When we are in trouble, we call out Mama! Gentle but wise father, the Lord’s Vicar on earth solemnly proclaimed 1950 a Marian Year, and then ended the year with the proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God as a dogma. In addition, he instituted the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. He also proclaimed the Centenary of the Apparitions of Our Blessed Lady to St. Bernadette.
The Pope’s heroism during World War II
A well-known journalist and publisher, upset over the widely orchestrated anti-clerical attacks against the Church, turned to the Pope and requested all newspapers in Italy publish all the acts of mercy performed by the Church during World War II. To which the Pope replied, “Only God must be testimony to what is done for our neighbor.”
Although His Holiness never wanted to broadcast his deeds of mercy, others have come forward and have lauded the Pope, especially for his involvement on behalf of Jewish refugees. There was, for example, a story published in the International Herald Tribune, October 22, 2001, part of the official Italian war record, citing the many acts performed by His Holiness.
One situation cited: From 1943 to 1945, Leonardo Marinelli was a commander in the Royal Finance Guard in the Aprica internment camp, located in northern Italy. In his Diary there is an account, entered September 12, 1943, which reads, The Pope sent Giuseppe Carozzi, a young Italian priest, to entreat Marinelli to grant permits to enter Switzerland to 300 Jewish internees. Although it was contrary to orders by the Nazi government that permits be granted to Jews, prisoners of war, or anyone who had not joined Mussolini’s puppet Republic of Salo to cross the border, Marinelli granted the Pope his wishes and for the next four days, as the prisoners were crossing the border, guards could be seen carrying their belongings.
Marinelli was later placed in an internment camp, by the Nazis, but escaped. He testified before the Finance Guard high command in July, 1945, that all he had written in his Diary was true.
Pope Pius II was not silent. He dared to speak out, contrary to the propaganda being broadcast by the media, who would soil his precious name. Pius XII reaffirmed the rights of the family, the rights of parents to supervise their children’s education, and the rights of conscience, stressing the fundamental unity of all mankind under the fatherhood of God.
The Pope faces war within the walls of Rome on his knees.
It appeared war was coming to Rome, with the inevitability of Allied and German troops fighting in the streets of his beloved city of the seven hills. What did the Pope do? He went to the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola and implored the Mother of God! His only recourse to the possible senseless destruction of Rome was to get down on his knees and pray. And so he did, all night! He was joined by clergy and the faithful of Rome, all petitioning the Mother of God, for her intercession, as they prayed before the sacred image of the Madonna del Divino Amore. Rome was spared!
Pope Pius XII was a shining light in the darkness that permeated the world, a light that would not allow itself to be extinguished. He was not only an instrument of peace; he was an oracle of love. He not only took Jesus’ words, You must love your enemy…seriously, he lived them, exchanging love for hatred and peace for war. A case in point, when it was reported to him that Joseph Stalin wished to know how many divisions there were in his army, he replied, “You may tell my son Joseph he will meet my divisions in Heaven.”
He proved he could not only love his enemy, he could call him son. Plainly separating the action from the person, he looked upon those who were doing monstrous things against God and His children as poor, misguided children who had fallen under the spell of the evil one and his fallen angels. And how God has to weep, when He sees the perfect creation he breathed life into become soiled irreparably by sin, the most horrible sins against God and man.
A cute story! The war was coming to an end! The Fifth Allied Army rumbled into Rome, amidst much fanfare, flags waving, banners draped over balconies welcoming their liberators from the Nazis. Lieutenant General Mark Clark, commander of the Fifth Allied Army appeared before the Pope, apologetically asking his pardon: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” The Pope replied, a gleam in his eyes, “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make as much noise as you like.”
History refuses to be changed!
Contrary to what the media and a few very vocal enemies of true peace and justice would have you believe, we have the testimony of the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Anton Zolli! Israel Zoller (as Rabbi Zolli was formerly called before his name was italianized to Zolli), was born in Brodj, Galizia, on September 17, 1881. He came from a family of Polish Jews who had been Rabbis for four centuries. To give you a little background on the Rabbi, he was named Rabbi of Trieste, when it was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. He also held the Hebrew Language and Literature Chair at the University of Padua. Then in 1940, the Fascists stepped in and took away his Chair and sent him to Rome as Chief Rabbi.
When he was interviewed by the American Hebrew newspaper, on July 14th, 1944, he reiterated having been hidden in the Vatican during the German occupation of Rome. He unequivocally testified,
“The Vatican has always helped the Jews and the Jews are very grateful for the charitable work of the Vatican, all done without distinction of race.”
When the war ended, Rabbi Zolli converted to the Catholic Faith and wrote his memoirs, Before the Dawn in 1954. He shared he had a vision of Christ, Who called him to the Church. He said he heard the voice say, “You are here for the last time.” It was on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
The previous article was based on the Chapter about Venerable Pope Pius XII in Bob and Penny Lord’s book, “Saints Maligned Misunderstood and Mistreated.” To order this book click here