Monday, October 8, 2012

Chiesa di San Biagi

re: "Following Francis' Footsteps: How Assisi Protected Jews During World War II"

A mere two weeks after visiting Assisi, I read Victor Gaetan's magnificent, fascinating, and inspiring report on the role of that beautiful city in protecting Jewish people during the Second World War (cf, Following Francis' Footsteps: How Assisi Protected Jews During World War II, Part 1 & Part 2).  I am deeply disappointed that our tour did NOT include the Museum of Memory, 1943-1944 Assisi.  In fact, I cannot recall it even being mentioned!

The hilltop city of Assisi - physical appearance alone - is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  Inside its charming walls, narrow, winding, slanted streets - and stairs from nowhere - seem like something out of a story book (Unbelievably, people are allowed to drive cars on those streets, but I'll ignore that issue!).

As Victor Gaetan masterfully explains,
  • "For almost eight centuries, pilgrims venerating St. Francis have come to the picturesque hilltop town of Assisi, 100 miles northeast of Rome, where the saint was born in 1182....Less known, especially by American Catholics, is Assisi’s legacy as a sanctuary for thousands of refugees displaced during World War II, including approximately 300 Jews who were hidden in the city’s convents, monasteries and private homes....
  • "According to Don Aldo [Brunacci], in September 1943, Bishop Nicolini showed him a letter from the Vatican and said..., 'We have to organize ourselves to help those who are being persecuted, especially the Jews. This is the desire of the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII. Everything must be done with the greatest secrecy and prudence. Not even the priests must know anything about this'....
  • "Asked by an American journalist in 2003 about Pope Pius XII’s purported 'silence' during the war, Don Aldo responded, rhetorically, 'What is better: to do or to say?....what Pius XII did for the Jews, in all the convents of Rome, in the Vatican and in the extraterritorial zones of the Vatican — there were Jews hidden in all those places [which] could not have done what they did without the Pope knowing.…The clergy everywhere in Italy did a bit of what we did in Assisi'....
  • "According to Rabbi David Dalin,...'Pope Pius XII … deserves to be recognized as a ‘Righteous Gentile’...; no other pope in history had ever before been so universally praised by Jews as Pius was for his role in saving Jews during the Holocaust'....[Scholar Pinchas Lapide] concluded that Pius XII 'was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000, Jews from certain death at Nazi hands.'"
The physical beauty of Assisi pales in comparison to its beautiful legacy in defending the sanctity of human life.

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

Blog Archive

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

Total Pageviews

12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010