Pius XII Display Includes Rabbi Thank You

’44 Letter Recalls Jews Saved in Rome

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, NOV. 5, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A Pius XII display at the Vatican exhibits a letter from a French rabbi thanking Pius XII and Catholic priests for their aid to Jews during the Holocaust.

The letter from Rabbi André Zaoui, a chaplain and captain of a French expeditionary force, was dated June 22, 1944. It is among the pieces in the «Pius XII: The Man and the Pontificate» display, which opened to the public Tuesday and runs through Jan. 6.

The rabbi notes how he attended a public audience of the Pope on June 6, 1944, at 12:20 with «numerous allied soldiers and officials.»

He also mentions his visit to the Pius XI Institute, «which protected for more than six months some 60 Jewish children, among them some little refugees from France.»

Zaoui wrote that he was impressed with the «paternal solicitude of all the teachers,» and recalled that the prefect of studies affirmed, «We have done nothing more than our duty.»

The rabbi recounts another event, of June 8, 1944: the reopening of the synagogue of Rome, which had been closed by the Nazis in October, 1943.

He spoke of the presence of a priest, Father Benoit, a «French fugitive» who dedicated himself «to the service of the Jewish families of Rome.» He recalled the impression made on him by the words of the priest: «I love the Jews with all my heart.»

Zaoui affirmed his gratitude, saying, «Israel will never forget.»

This letter is also reproduced in the catalogue of the display, published by the Vatican Publishing House. In the catalogue, Benedict XVI’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, highlights the importance of the exhibit, saying that «it makes better known a Pontiff who is justly recognized as one of the greatest personalities of the 20th century.»

The cardinal thanks those who made the exhibit possible, and expresses his hope that it «brings people, especially young generations, to appreciate the extraordinary figure of this Pope, who knew how to prepare, with prophetic intuition into the signs of the times, the path of the Church during his time.»

The display aims to present Pius XII’s personality, ranging from his love for animals — with photographs of him with a goldfinch and some lambs; his fascination for modern inventions — with his electric razor and his typewriter; his concern for the needy — with photos of mattresses set up even on the steps of the Apostolic Palace for World War II refugees; his love for art — noting the concert from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel on May 25, 1955, as a sign of gratitude for his work in favor of the Jews; to his repeated interventions during the war.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation