Pope Pius XII

Pope Venerable

Pius XII
Bishop of Rome
His Holiness Pope Pius XII.png
Pius XII in 1951
Papacy began2 March 1939
Papacy ended9 October 1958
PredecessorPius XI
SuccessorJohn XXIII
Ordination2 April 1899
by Francesco di Paola Cassetta
Consecration13 May 1917
by Benedict XV
Created cardinal16 December 1929
by Pius XI
Personal details
Birth nameEugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli
Born(1876-03-02)2 March 1876
Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Died9 October 1958(1958-10-09) (aged 82)
Castel Gandolfo, Italy
Previous post
MottoOpus Justitiae Pax("The work of justice [shall be] peace" [Is. 32: 17])
SignaturePius XII's signature
Coat of armsPius XII's coat of arms
Venerated inCatholic Church
Title as SaintVenerable
Other popes named Pius
Ordination history of
Pope Pius XII
Priestly ordination
Ordained byFrancesco di Paola Cassetta
Date2 April 1899
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorPope Benedict XV
Co-consecratorsAgostino Zampini
Giovanni Battista Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano
Date13 May 1917
PlaceSt. Peter's Basilica, Rome
Elevated byPope Pius XI
Date16 December 1929
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Pope Pius XII as principal consecrator
Michel-Joseph Bourguignon d'Herbigny29 March 1926
Giuseppe Pizzardo27 April 1930
Luigi Centoz14 February 1932
Francis Joseph Spellman8 September 1932
Albert Levame4 February 1934
Saverio Ritter11 August 1935
Maurilio Silvani13 September 1936
Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Tisserant25 July 1937
Francesco Benedetto Cialeo29 October 1939
Carlo Confalonieri4 May 1941

Pope Pius XII (Italian: Pio XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (Italian pronunciation: [euˈdʒɛːnjo maˈriːa dʒuˈzɛppe dʒoˈvanni paˈtʃɛlli]; 2 March 1876 – 9 October 1958), was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 2 March 1939 to his death. Before his election to the papacy, he served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany, and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany.[1]

While the Vatican was officially neutral during World War II, Pius XII maintained links to the German Resistance, used diplomacy to aid the victims of the war and lobby for peace, and spoke out against race-based murders and other atrocities.[2] The Reichskonkordat and his leadership of the Catholic Church during the war remain the subject of controversy—including allegations of public silence and inaction about the fate of the Jews.[3] After the war, he advocated peace and reconciliation, including lenient policies towards former Axis and Axis-satellite nations. He was also a staunch opponent of Communism and of the Italian Communist Party.

During his papacy, the Church issued the Decree against Communism, declaring that Catholics who profess Communist doctrine are to be excommunicated as apostates from the Christian faith. In turn, the Church experienced severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy in the Eastern Bloc. He explicitly invoked ex cathedra papal infallibility with the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in his Apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus.[4] His magisterium includes almost 1,000 addresses and radio broadcasts. His forty-one encyclicals include Mystici corporis, the Church as the Body of Christ; Mediator Dei on liturgy reform; and Humani generis, in which he instructed theologians to adhere to episcopal teaching and allowed that the human body might have evolved from earlier forms. He eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals in 1946.

After his 1958 death, he was succeeded by Pope John XXIII. In the process toward sainthood, his cause for canonization was opened on 18 November 1965 by Pope Paul VI during the final session of the Second Vatican Council. He was made a Servant of God by Pope John Paul II in 1990 and Pope Benedict XVI declared Pius XII Venerable on 19 December 2009.[5]

Early life

Eugenio Pacelli at the age of six in 1882

Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli was born on 2 March 1876 in Rome into a family of intense Catholic piety with a history of ties to the papacy (the "Black Nobility"). His parents were Filippo Pacelli (1837–1916) and Virginia (née Graziosi) Pacelli (1844–1920). His grandfather, Marcantonio Pacelli, had been Under-Secretary in the Papal Ministry of Finances[6] and then Secretary of the Interior under Pope Pius IX from 1851 to 1870 and helped found the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano in 1861.[7][8] His cousin, Ernesto Pacelli, was a key financial advisor to Pope Leo XIII; his father, Filippo Pacelli, a Franciscan tertiary,[9] was the dean of the Roman Rota; and his brother, Francesco Pacelli, became a lay canon lawyer and the legal advisor to Pope Pius XI, in which role he negotiated the Lateran Treaty in 1929 with Benito Mussolini, bringing an end to the Roman Question.

Together with his brother Francesco and his two sisters, Giuseppina and Elisabetta, he grew up in the Parione district in the centre of Rome. Soon after the family had moved to Via Vetrina in 1880 he began school at the convent of the French Sisters of Divine Providence in the Piazza Fiammetta. The family worshipped at Chiesa Nuova. Eugenio and the other children made their First Communion at this church and Eugenio served there as an altar boy from 1886. In 1886 too he was sent to the private school of Professor Giuseppe Marchi, close to the Piazza Venezia.[10] In 1891 Pacelli's father sent Eugenio to the Liceo Ennio Quirino Visconti Institute, a state school situated in what had been the Collegio Romano, the premier Jesuit university in Rome.

In 1894, aged 18, Pacelli began his theology studies at Rome's oldest seminary, the Almo Collegio Capranica,[11] and in November of the same year, registered to take a philosophy course at the Jesuit Pontifical Gregorian University and theology at the Pontifical Roman Athenaeum S. Apollinare. He was also enrolled at the State University, La Sapienza where he studied modern languages and history. At the end of the first academic year however, in the summer of 1895, he dropped out of both the Capranica and the Gregorian University. According to his sister Elisabetta, the food at the Capranica was to blame.[12] Having received a special dispensation he continued his studies from home and so spent most of his seminary years as an external student. In 1899 he completed his education in Sacred Theology with a doctoral degree awarded on the basis of a short dissertation and an oral examination in Latin.[13]