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The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

1903-1939 A.D.



St. Pius X : 1903-1914 A.D.

257. Born in Riese. Elected August 9, 1903 - died August 20, 1914.

He terminated the "Codification of Canonical Law". He started the publication of the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis", which reports the laws and documents of the unabridged edition.

He introduced the elevation of the Host and the chalice. He reorganized the Observatory and the Vatican Picture Galley and founded the Biblical Institute.

As to the Kingdom of Italy, he lifted the veto concerning the participation of Catholics in public life.

Another important work done by the Pope is represented by the reforms of the Missal, the Breviary and the sacred music, with regard to which he co-operated with Lorenzo Perosi.

He is buried in St. Peter's altar of the Presentation.

On May 29 th 1954 he was canonized by Pius XII.

His pontificate lasted about 11 years.


Benedict XV
: 1914-1922 A.D.

258. Born in Genoa. Elected September 6, 1914 - died January 22, 1922

The States which had a diplomatic site in the Vatican became 27 instead of 14, including England which had abolished it three centuries before.

He beatified Joan of Arc and founded the University of the Sacro Cuore.

He resumed diplomatic relations with England and France and by means of the encyclical published on May 23rd 1920 he established a new protocol for the visits of Catholic Sovereigns to Rome.

He confirmed the condemnation of "modernism" expressed by Pius X.

In 1917, he published the Code of Canonical Law, started in conformity with Pius X's will. He approved the project of the Museum devoted to St. Peter, made with the collection of all the remains found in the old Constantinian Basilica.

He lifted the veto concerning the visits of Catholic foreign sovereigns to the King of Italy.

He was buried in the Vatican Grottoes. His pontificate lasted 7 years and a half.


Pius XI
: 1922-1939 A.D.

259. Born in Desio. Elected February 12, 1922 - died February 10, 1939.

On February 11th 1929 he signed together with Benito Mussolini the Concordat between the Church and the Italian state.

On the occasion of the XIX Centenary of the Redemption (1933) he celebrated a Holy Year.

G. Marconi built the Vatican Radio.

His first words after having accepted the election were"...I want my first blessing to be a sign of peace and I will give it from the balcony of St. Peter's"; This exceptional event had not occurred since 1870 when Rome became part of the Kingdon of Italy.

He set up the "Russicum".

He established the missionary Museum in the Lateran, the Athenaeum of Propaganda Fide.

Devised and built by Guglielmo Marconi, February 12 th 1931 Pius XI inaugauratd the first and the biggest radio short-wave transmitter in the world.

The first Message read by the Pope ended with the same words of the Holy Scripture:"Listen, oh Heavens...listen on land...listen, people of the world...".

He died on February 10th. His pontificated lasted 17 years.


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