Friday, January 31, 2014

Pacelli's Rome 3

The Pacelli family were a devout late-Tridentine Catholic family who practised their faith through regular Mass, family prayer and devotions ordered according to the liturgical year.

The family worshipped at their parish church of St Maria in Vallicella, more commonly known as Chiesa Nuova.  Chiesa Nuova was a little more than a ten minute walk from the family home on Via Monte Giordano and, later, Via Vetrina.  The Oratorians of St Philip Neri had pastoral care of the parish and were well known by the family.  





Eugenio served Mass as an altar boy.  There is a plaque in the corridor leading towards the sacristy recording that the pope began his priestly journey at Chiesa Nuova.  The plaque was placed to commemorate the silver jubilee of Pius' episcopal ordination.

"As a child Pius XII, Pontifex Maximus, began his joyful and faithful journey to the priesthood in this church of Blessed Philip ... "



Another church that figured large in the life of the young Pacelli was the great Jesuit church, Il Gesu.  Here Pacelli would spend time in the chapel of Our Lady of the Way.




The shrine of Our Lady of the Way


The image of Our Lady of the Way



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pacelli's Rome 2

The Pacelli family moved from Via Monte Giordano around 1880 to a smaller residence at 19 Via Vetrina.  The new apartment is marked with the red circle.  The move seems to suggest that the family finances were not particularly secure.  This also serves to underline the point that the Papal or Black Nobility were prepared to make considerable sacrifices rather than compromise their support for the papacy.  Savoy Italy was to remain highly suspect for families such as the Pacellis for many years.  In any event, this was to be the family home for the next 20 years.  

Some of the photos here were taken in 2000 during a field trip to Rome.  I re-photoed the images on my digital camera and forgot to delete the date!  One day I will read the instructions for the camera.




19 Via Vetrina (2013)


Via Vetrina (2000)

The young Eugenio was sent to the French Sisters of Providence who ran an infants' school on Via Giuseppe Zanardelli less than a ten minute walk from the Pacelli home.


Today the school is the general office of the Conference of Italian Major Superiors (Religious Orders).


A bust of the school's most famous alumnus stands in the foyer.


After a couple of years with the Sisters, Filippo sent his sons to a private school near the Campo di Fiori for their primary education.  In a move that suggests Pacelli's parents were keen for their sons to develop awareness of the secular world of modern Italy and be able to defend their Catholic faith, Francesco and Eugenio were sent to the Liceo Ennio Quirino Visconti, formerly the Jesuit Collegio Romano, for their secondary education.


Liceo Ennio Quirino Visconti 1871 to the present
(Previously Collegio Romano 1551-1871)


Eugenio Pacelli (second row, second from the right) matriculated from high school in 1894.  This is the only photo I know of where the young adult Pacelli is wearing non-clerical attire.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pacelli's Rome 1

During my study leave I had the opportunity to stay in Rome for about three weeks.  During some free time I walked around Parione where Eugenio Pacelli was born and where he and his family lived for the better part of thirty years.  It is a part of Rome close to Piazza Navona, the great baroque churches of Il Gesu and Chiesa Nuova, a short walk to Piazza di Fiori and the ghetto, and a slightly longer walk across the ponte Umberto I or Sant'Angelo towards the Vatican.  The Rome of Eugenio Pacelli was, and is, a walking city.  

I had done some initial field work in 2000 as I worked towards completion of my doctoral dissertation.  I remain a believer that understanding the geography of a person's life goes a long way to helping understand the contexts in which they lived.  Pacelli lived the first four decades of his life more or less within the confines of the old city of Rome.  He ventured forth for holidays to the family's ancestral hometown of Onano, about two hours drive to the north and after ordination he made several trips on Vatican business.  However it was not until 1917, when he was 42 years old, that he left Rome for his longest time abroad.  

Walking through the narrow and twisting streets of old Rome is always a pleasure and a delight.  I was happy to find that my memory of where particular places were had not dimmed over the years!  As a start to 2014 I would like to share some of these images.  All would have been familiar to Eugenio as a boy and young man, as well as to the man who would become pope.

3 March 1876.

Filippo and Virginia Pacelli lived at 34 via Monte Giordano, known in the 19th century as via degli Orsini.  The apartment block was known as Palazzo Pediconi and the family lived on the third floor between 1871 and 1880.




Eugenio Maria Guiseppe Pacelli was born in his parent's third floor apartment (central floor in the picture above) on 3 March 1876.


Today the apartment is a private home.

Back in the saddle.

I have been on study leave since mid-October 2013.  The time away from school was a great opportunity to re-charge the batteries, do some serious professional and personal development in areas of Liturgy, Christian art and architecture, history and travel.  Of the latter I did some pretty serious getting around.  Over the last three months I have spent time in different cities in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Cuba and the United States.  Most of that time was engaged in various forms of "church crawling".  

I kept an eye on news concerning Pius XII but it has been pretty quiet.  The only significant piece of news has been the resurgence of hope that Pope Francis may speed up the opening of the archives for Pius' pontificate.  Much of the story appears to have been promoted by the visit to Rome by Francis' old friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Buenos Aires.  And while Skorka was diplomatically reserved over the nature of his conversations with his old friend, he did suggest that Francis was keen to open the archives in order to "get it all out" about what Pius did and did not do.  Several articles appeared on 19 January and there has been a steady trickle over the last week.  Most appear to borrow from each other.

However, I tend to be rather sceptical having seen more than a few media reports that "it" was about to happen, would happen soon, that the new pope was committed to "it" and so on.  What I do think is solid fact is Francis' commitment to "hasten slowly" on the cause of Pope Pius XII.  His public statements demonstrate a much-welcomed caution that until all the relevant material is examined, Pacelli's cause for canonisation should wait.  This is good news.  For those who wish to read some of the news headlines I suggest these:


19 January: Gidon Ben-zvi writing in The Algemeiner,  Pope may open Holocaust era Vatican archives, possiblt shedding light on Pope Pius XII's role.

19 January: The Jerusalem Post picked up Pope Francis to examine Pius' wartime conduct before deciding on sainthood from the Sunday Times.

20 January: Catholic Culture, a conservative North American news service, reported Pope ready to open secret archives of Pius XII?

20 January: Andrea Tornielli writing in Vatican Insider penned Skorka and the Vatican archives on Pius XII.

25 January:  A very enthusiastic Vaiju Naravane writing for The Hindu informs us the "Pope Francis appears to have taken another bold decision in favour of inter-religious harmony and transparency in the affairs off the Roman Catholic Church.  It has been reported that he has decided to throw open the Vatican's archives on the Holocaust and the role played by Pope Pius XII during Hitler's third Reich when an estimated six million Jews were exterminated".

An interesting start.  However, just in case his readers think this is really what is going on, Naravane goes on to write: "However, the Vatican has still to confirm that Pope Francis has in fact decided to open the archives".  Indeed.  

Personally, I find reading Sandro Magister's column along with more "left of centre" journals, such as the National Catholic Reporter, gives me what may be the best picture of what is happening.


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