Month: February 2014

David I. Kertzer: The Pope and Mussolini

National Post | Full Comment

Ailing, elderly and having barely survived circulatory failure the previous year, Pope Pius XI begged God to grant him a few more days. He sat at his desk in his third-floor Vatican office in his white robe, a cane resting against the wall nearby. The rusted compass and barometer from his climbs to Italy’s highest Alpine peaks lay on one side, a reminder of days long past. An old tuning fork remained in a drawer. It had been years since he had last taken it out. Proud of his singing voice and eager that his sense of pitch not desert him, he had practiced when he could, but only when he was sure no one was listening. Now, knowing the end was near, he went through each drawer, making sure his papers were in order.

For years the pope had enjoyed good health, and observers had marveled at his punishing…

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