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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

PIUS XII Gone Wild!

Recently released documents and photos from the Vatican archives shed new light on the Pontificate of Pius XII. The wartime pope often known for his stern countenance and regal bearing apparently had a wild side! For many years thought to be a hindrance for his cause for canonization, the Vatican jealously guarded these details lest the outside world know the "real" Papa Pacelli. Now for the first time, the world will know about the Pontiff's "secrets." Among the recent revelations are the following:

Crowd surfing. "Whenever a crowd gathered, he just couldn't help himself," Giovanni Cardinal Marotta (then a Monsignor) recalled in an incident in 1948. "I recall a very proper Pope Pius XII coming out to the crowds at St. Peter's. Just as he was about to impart the Apostolic Blesssing, he looked down, curled his lips into a big smile, and yelled aggiornamento--I think he meant to say Geronimo--and lept into the crowd! It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time! The crowd kept him lifted up and passed him from one side of the piazza to the other as if on a natural sedia gestatoria."

The celebrated incident when a little Italian girl gave Pius XII 'the bird'. "I was shocked! Such audacity," exclaimed Sr. Hilda Irtenkauf, in an interview in 1951 just released from the Vatican's archives. "This little bambina, obviously not caring for propriety, stepped on the toes of all of us as His Holiness was visiting San Sebastiano in a parish visit. She ran right up to him almost tripping him, and gave him the bird! Oh saints preserve us!"

The Society of Humorless Catholics had no comment.

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