Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Her Holiness: The Bishopess of Rome

“The extraordinary partnership between Pasqualina and Pope Pius XII lasted 41 years and included all of Pius’s pontificate which ran from 1939 to 1958. During this time—a time when the Vatican had to face some of the greatest crises of recent history—this nun was the very closest confidante of the pope.”

“Often referred to behind Vatican Walls as ‘La Popessa,” Sister Pasqualina—who was born in August 1894—wielded an unprecedented power in the Vatican—so much so that more often than not, priests and bishops (and sometimes even cardinals) would seek her permission before applying for a papal audience; this was especially so when Pius fell ill for extended periods,” N. Bello, The Incredible Book of Vatican Facts and Papal Curiosities (Liguori 1998), 214-15.

“She took dictation from him every day, even writing pages in his private diary and editing his official papers and speeches. Pius often discussed critical matters with her, seeking her views on problems he had to address officially,” ibid. 217.

“She had a lot to say on all complex matters. This was true in the case of the future Pope Paul VI, then Monsignor Montini, who was transferred to Milan in move that surprised even most of the Vatican insiders; they knew, however, it had been orchestrated by Pasqualina. ‘La Popessa’ did not like Montini all and had frequently exchanged angry words with him, with Pius often having to intercede to smooth down one squabble or another. That Montini remained without a red hat [i.e. cardinalate] while he was archbishop of Milan was another example of Paqualina’s influence that incensed many clerics at the Vatican,” ibid. 218.

“Even more dismaying to Tisserant [the Vatican pro-secretary of state] was the day he had an appointment with Pius on an urgent matter, and his appointment was canceled because Pasqualina had given the Pope’s time to Gary Cooper and Clare Boothe Luce, who were in Rome for just a few hours. The dean of cardinals often had to wait up to 60 days before he could see the pope, simply because Pasqualina decreed it,” ibid. 220-21.

Another time she kept Bishop Angelo Roncalli (Later to become Pope John XXIII) waiting for more than an hour while she gave priority to Clark Gable, then a major with the liberating American forces in Rome. The MGM star, who did not have a previous appointment, was allowed into the pope’s office despite the fact that Roncalli had been summoned to the Vatican by Pius on a pressing matter,” ibid. 221.

1 comment:

  1. Steve -- the born in 1949 date must be an error. I think it's 1894.