Church in the World
Pius XII hid Jews during war
- 19 August 2006
The Roman convent of Santi Quattro Coronati sheltered political fugitives and Jews during the Second World War on the direct orders of Pope Pius XII, according to the diary of one of the Augustinian convent's sisters.
According to the Italian daily La Stampa, which has seen the 60-year-old-plus diary, the Pope, who has often been criticised for keeping his counsel during the Holocaust, instructed the mother superior to open, exceptionally, the enclosure of the contemplative order's convent in order to shelter those fleeing the Germans.
The anonymous author of the journal provides detailed names and dates of more than 10 Jews and non-Jews who were sheltered in the convent from September 1942 to June 1944. One of these was Amalia Viterbo, the Jewish niece of Palmiro Togliatti, one of the creators of the Italian Communist Party and secretary of the Comintern before the Second World War.
The Augustinian sister writes that the Pope wished to save "his children as well as Jews" and ordered that monasteries and enclosures should be opened up to those persecuted.
Later, when the convent superior perceived that the SS were flouting the sanctuary of convent enclosures, she had false identity papers drawn up for her guests.
The diary should interest historians who have been at loggerheads for 60 years over the attitude of Pope Pius XII concerning concentration camps and the Holocaust. Many have accused him of complicity through his silence.