Friday, February 10, 2023

The Death of Pius XI

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XI in 1939, 4 days after the 17th anniversary of his election in 1922. His death also came one day before the 10th anniversary of one of the great achievements of his reign, the Lateran Treaties, which finally brought peace between the Church and the Kingdom of Italy after the plundering inflicted on the Church by the Italian Risorgimento. Here is a contemporary report from the always interesting archives of the newsreel company British Pathé.

Here is a reel of raw footage, without soundtrack, of scenes in Rome at the time. The caption on YouTube mistakenly says “Pius II”, who was Pope in the mid-15th century.
And a report from the Italian company Luce, with particularly good footage of the procession that brings the body of the dead Pope down from the Sistine Chapel, where it first lay in state, down to the Vatican Basilica, and a beautiful image of the catafalque.
“February 10th of this year, in St Peter’s square, in the first hours of the morning, groups of people stop, sadly turning their faces towards two closed windows in the Vatican Palace. Within, still in his rooms, still on his deathbed, lies Pius XI, the Pope who, on the following day, would have celebrated in the basilica the tenth anniversary of the Reconciliation (between the Church and the kingdom of Italy), an anniversary very dear to his heart. Now, the body, clothed in solemn vestments, is in the Sistine Chapel, which is destined to see, in the tradition of the church of Rome, both the deceased pope, and a few days later, the first exaltation of his successor. A long procession of ecclesiastics and dignitaries accompanies the body from the Sistine Chapel to St Peter’s; outside, the throng which grows ever more crowded in the piazza seems to follow the sad ceremony in sentiment. (no narration from 1:15 to 3:10) Then, the gates of the basilica are opened; the mortal remains of Pius XI, before they are laid in the tomb, remain exposed for three days for the veneration of the faithful. Passing in endless lines before the body, the people express a unanimous tribute of grief to the Pope of the Reconciliation.”

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