Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius xii

Pope Pius XII was the 260th man head of the Catholic Church and the 12th such individual to choose “Pius” as his papal name. This article will discuss major moments in his life and summarize his papacy while also spicing things up with a few personable tidbits about the man to keep students invested in learning.

Early Life and Education.

Eugenio Pacelli was born into a family with deep connections to the Church. His parents were Filippo and Virginia Pacelli. Eugenio, his brother Francesco and his sisters Giuseppina and Elisabetta all grew up in Rome.

After spending some time as an altar boy, Eugenio was sent to study under Professor Marchi, then to the Liceo Ennio Quirino Visconti Institute in 1891. Upon reaching age 18, Eugenio changed schools to the Almo Collegio Capranica in order to study theology, followed by the pursuit of philosophy at the Jesuit Pontifical Gregorian University; theology at the Athenaeum S. Apollinare and modern languages and history at La Sapienza.

At the end of his freshman year, in 1895, he abandoned Capranica and the Gregorian University; Elisabetta blamed the Capranica’s food. After getting special dispensation, Eugenio continued studying seminary as an outside student. 1899 would see him finish his doctorate in Sacred Theology, concluding with a dissertation and oral exam given in Latin.

Career with the Church.

Pacelli received his doctorate in canon law on 1904 for his dissertation on the execution of canon law when concordats fall into abeyance. His work transitioned into working for Monsignor Pietro Gasparri, under a sub-organization of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

By 1911, he was under-secretary for the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, then its adjunct-secretary in 1912 and finally its secretary in 1914. After Benedict XV succeeded Pius IX, Pacelli was appointed secretary of state. World War I would seem him keeping a running tally of prisoners of war for the Vatican.

Benedict XV made Pacelli nuncio to Bavaria in April of 1917; considering that neither Prussia nor Germany had a nuncio, this made Pacelli nuncio to the entire German Empire. After the chaos of the Armistice, Pacelli requested to be transferred somewhere safe, placing him in a Swiss sanitorium. Pacelli became the nuncio to Germany in June of 1920 and many of his staff from Munich continued to serve under him.

When the Weimar Republic seemed consigned to dissolution, Pacelli was recalled to Rome. After a brief stint serving as Cardinal-Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in 1926, he was made Cardinal Secretary of State on February 7th, 1930. Five years later, he would be made Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.

The Reichskonkordat

This legislation was crucial to the quartet of concordats Pacelli arranged between the German States and the Vatican. Because the German States, rather than the Vatican, oversaw education and culture, the role of the Church was in peril. The Reichskonkordat was a signed agreement between Germany and the Holy See and is considered the most important of Pacelli’s concordats.

Pacelli had hoped to bolster the Church’s legal standing in Germany and sought for the protection of Catholic associations, education and the press. After a great deal of back and forth between the Church and Chancellor Adolf Hitler, the concordat was finally signed on July 20th, 1933; Pacelli provided the Church’s signature while vice-chancellor Franz von Papen signed for Germany.

List of Events In The Life of Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli)

DateAgeEventTitle
2 Mar 1876Born
2 Apr 189923.0Ordained PriestPriest of Roma, Italy
7 Mar 191135.0AppointedUnder Secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs
20 Jun 191236.2AppointedPro-Secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs
1 Feb 191437.9AppointedSecretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs
20 Apr 191741.1AppointedApostolic Nuncio to Bavaria
23 Apr 191741.1AppointedTitular Archbishop of Sardes
13 May 191741.1Ordained BishopTitular Archbishop of Sardes
23 Jun 192044.3AppointedApostolic Nuncio to Germany
8 Jun 192549.2ResignedApostolic Nuncio to Bavaria
12 Jun 192549.2AppointedApostolic Nuncio to Prussia
16 Dec 192953.7Elevated to Cardinal
16 Dec 192953.7ResignedApostolic Nuncio to Germany
16 Dec 192953.7ResignedApostolic Nuncio to Prussia
19 Dec 192953.7AppointedCardinal-Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
9 Feb 193053.9AppointedSecretary of State
25 Mar 193054.0AppointedArchpriest of the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano {Saint Peter Basilica}
1 Apr 193559.0AppointedChamberlain (Camerlengo) of the Apostolic Chamber
10 Feb 193962.9CeasedSecretary of State
2 Mar 193963.0ElectedPope (Roma, Italy)
12 Mar 193963.0InstalledPope (Roma, Italy)
9 Oct 195882.6DiedPope (Roma, Italy)

List of Saints Canonized By Pope Pius XII

No.SaintDate of CanonizationPlace of Canonization
1.Mary Euphrasia Pelletier2 May 1940St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
2.Gemma Galgani2 May 1940St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
3.Margaret of Hungary19 November 1943Vatican City
4.Frances Xavier Cabrini7 July 1946St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
5.Nicholas of Flüe15 May 1947Vatican City
6.Bernardino Realino22 June 1947Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
7.John de Brito22 June 1947Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
8.Joseph Cafasso22 June 1947Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
9.Jeanne-Elisabeth Bichier des Ages6 July 1947Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
10.Michael Garicoits6 July 1947Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
11.Louis de Montfort20 July 1947Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
12.Catherine Labouré27 July 1947Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
13.Jeanne de Lestonnac15 May 1949Rome, Italy
14.Maria Giuseppa Rossello12 June 1949Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City
15.Emilie de Rodat23 April 1950Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City
16.Antonio Maria Claret7 May 1950Rome, Italy
17.Bartolomea Capitanio18 May 1950Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
18.Vincenza Gerosa18 May 1950Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
19.Joan of France, Duchess of Berry28 May 1950Vatican City
20.Vincent Strambi11 June 1950Rome, Italy
21.Maria Goretti24 June 1950Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City
22.Mariana de Jesús de Paredes9 July 1950Rome, Italy
23.Emily de Vialar24 June 1951St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
24.Maria Domenica Mazzarello24 June 1951St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
25.Antonio Maria Gianelli21 October 1951
Rome, Italy
26.Francis Bianchi21 October 1951Rome, Italy
27.Ignatius of Laconi21 October 1951Rome, Italy
28.Pope Pius X29 May 1954Rome, Italy
29.Dominic Savio12 June 1954Rome, Italy
30.Gaspar del Bufalo12 June 1954Rome, Italy
31.Joseph Pignatelli12 June 1954Rome, Italy
32.Maria Crocifissa di Rosa12 June 1954Rome, Italy
33.Peter Chanel12 June 1954Rome, Italy
34.Hermann Joseph11 August 1958Rome, Italy

Papal Legacy.

Pacelli’s considerable work in foreign Church affairs made him a natural pick to succeed Pius XII. He chose “Pius” as his name in deference to his Italian heritage and having served under other great popes who chose the name.

  • He sought to diminish the heavily Italian bent to the Roman Curia’s members by appointing more non-Italians than any of his predecessors.
  • He called for priests to investigate religion by studying Hebraic texts.
  • He dogmatically defined the Assumption of Mary.
  • He believed it was right to give pain medicine to the terminally ill.
  • He saw science and religion as two Godly gifts.
  • He considered evolution a viable explanation for life, but did not consider it an answer to all things; the soul, he believed, was solely God’s creation.

See the full list of Popes

Quick Facts About Pope Pius XII.

  • He was born on March 2nd of 1876, when Rome belonged to the Kingdom of Italy.
  • Like many Italians, he had a lengthy full name: Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli.
  • He died on October 9, 1958, spending his last days recovering within Italy’s Castel Gandolfo.
  • After suffering from chronic bout of gastritis since 1953 that were severe enough for him to consider abdication in 1954, Pius XII’s final days were full of side-effects from treatments of his gastritis. The official cause of his death is recorded as acute heart failure.
  • His papacy began on March 2nd, 1939.
  • As is the case with most popes, Pius XII’s papacy stopped when he stopped living.
  • His papal successor was John XXIII.

Six Interesting Facts About Pope Pius XII.

  1. Even before he became pope, he was considered part of the “Black Nobility” because several of his family members were connected to the papacy.
  2. He met Winston Churchill while serving the Church in 1908.
  3. Nearly every speech he gave while working in Germany decried the rising tide of Nazism.
  4. While Camerlengo and not yet pope, he met Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, renewing the United States’ relationship with the papacy since its absence in the 1870s.
  5. Pacelli is credited for the words appearing in “Mit brennender Sorge,” an encylical released by Pius XI that condemned the more than 50 violations of the Reichskonkordat.
  6. He was the first cardinal Secretary of State to become pope since Clement IX.