Friday, July 26, 2019

WW2 Era Souvenirs of Catholic Italy

Our thanks to a reader for sharing with us these scans of some souvenir postcards which he found among the personal effects of his great-uncle, who served with the Texas-based 36th Infantry Division in World War II during the liberation of Italy. Since the invasion went up the peninsula, I am posting them in geographical order, Sicily first, followed by the shrine of the Virgin Mary at Pompei, and lastly Rome.

The 12th-century apsidal mosaic of the cathedral of Monreale, Sicily.
The sanctuary seen from just outside the altar-rail.
The chapel of the Crucifix.
The Capuchin church of Palermo is famous for its crypt, which houses the mortal remains of about 8000 people, over 1200 of whom are mummified; an unforgettable reminder of the ultimate reality of our life in this world.
At the city of Pompei, which is part of the greater metropolis of Naples, another extremely famous shrine of the Virgin Mary was founded by the Bl. Bartolo Longo in 1876, together with a group of institutions that cared for the children of the imprisoned. (At the time this was a huge problem in the south of Italy, which was economically devasted by the rampant thievery of the Italian Risorgimento, and the consequant mass emigration to the Americas.)
At the beginning of his foundation, Bl. Bartolo received as a gift a badly deteriorated image of the Madonna of the Rosary, which required a complete restoration before it could be decently exposed for veneration. In classic southern Italian fashion, it was soon heavily covered in precious stones donated by the faithful, as seen here; more recent restorations have removed them.
 St Peter’s Basilica in Rome
 The view of the piazza and the via della Conciliazione from the roof. 
The Pantheon, which has been the church of St Mary of the Martyrs since the year 609AD. The gate seen here around the portico has long since been removed.
 His Holiness Pope Pius XII

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