Pope Pius XII - Our Patron
Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli
(2 March 1876 – 9 October 1958), reigned from 2 March 1939 to his death in 1958. Before his election to the papacy, Pacelli served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany (1917–1929), 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, with which most historians believe the Vatican sought to protect the Church in Germany while Adolf Hitler sought the destruction of 'political Catholicism'. A pre-war critic of Nazism, Pius XII lobbied world leaders to avoid war and, as Pope at the outbreak of war, issued Summi Pontificatus, expressing dismay at the invasion of Poland, reiterating Church teaching against racism and calling for love, compassion and charity to prevail over war.
While the Vatican was officially neutral during the war, 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. The Reichskonkordat of 1933 and Pius's leadership of the Catholic Church during World War II remains the subject of controversy—including allegations of public silence and inaction about the fate of the Jews.
After the war Pius XII advocated peace and reconciliation, including lenient policies towards Axis and Axis-satellite nations. The Church experienced severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy in the Eastern Bloc. Pius XII was a staunch opponent of Communism and of the Italian Communist Party. Pius XII explicitly invoked ex cathedra papal infallibility with the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in his 1950 apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus. 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 on the Church's positions on theology and evolution. He eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals in 1946.
Pius XII suffered from the shadow of ill health in 1954 which would continue until his death in 1958. The embalming of his body was mishandled, with effects that were evident during the funeral. He was buried in the Vatican grottos and 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.