From a new piece just posted online by Inside the Vatican magazine:
“And now, my Jewish friend, go with the protection of the Lord, and never forget, you must always be proud to be a Jew!”
The words are striking, and unforgettable. They serve as a comfort to anyone who has ever been the victim of anti-Semitism, and at the same time, a rebuke to those who’ve sanctioned it. They were spoken to a young Jewish refugee, in the fall of 1941, after he had just fled Nazi and fascist persecution, and was in desperate need of help. The man who spoke them-loudly, clearly, and in German, to a crowd filled largely with German soldiers— was none other than the Vicar of Christ himself.
The story of how Pope Pius XII embraced this young Jewish refugee — and what he said and did for him — is one of the most inspiring acts of the Second World War, but one that — amazingly — remains largely unknown. The dramatic encounter was first recorded by the young Jewish man himself, in an anonymous article entitled, “A Papal Audience in Wartime,” for the Palestine Post (today’s Jerusalem Post), on April 28, 1944, nearly three years after it took place; expanded upon in that same man’s subsequent German memoir (published in Israel at the end of the War) (1); and again in an English version, entitled, Long Journey Home, produced in 1966, which was apparently offered to major publishers but never — evidently — actually published. (2) The latter memoir is now stored in two prestigious historical institutions — the Leo Baeck Institute in New York (www.lbi.org), which makes it available in digitized form online, and the Wisconsin Historical Society (www.wisconsinhistory.org). It is upon these sources, and separate corroborating documents, that this account is based.
Read the entire piece, “Pope Pius XII: Friend and Rescuer of Jews”, by William Doino, Jr.
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