George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New
Pius XII's War Efforts Seen
on Rediscovered Films
Demonstrate Pope's Commitment to Peace
By Jesús Colina
ROME, OCT. 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The aid Pope Pius XII offered during
World War II on behalf of all victims, regardless of their religion, is
documented on newly rediscovered films.
The films were discovered in the Cineteca Nazionale Italiana, in a
rather deteriorated state.
The most surprising find is the film "War on War," produced in 1948 by
the Italian company "Orbis," directed by Giorgio Simonelli and Romolo
Marcellini, who also directed "Pastor Angelicus" of 1942.
The Cineteca contacted the Vatican, which sent its delegate Claudia di
Giovanni to see the find.
Di Giovanni recounted her excitement when she received the invitation;
she gave her testimony at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical
Council for Social Communications, which Benedict XVI closed today.
In the films, which in certain scenes also present a cinematographic
history, "extraordinary images of World War II can be seen, [images
that are] particularly harsh, but highly effective in underlining the
tragedy of the conflict," explained di Giovanni.
Projected, "with the background of the war, are the words and work of
Pius XII in aid of all victims, with images of the soup kitchens
created by the Pope, and the residence of Castel Gandolfo open to
refugees," she added.
The spectator can see how the Pope converted the great halls of the
Apostolic Palace into dormitories for refugee women and children.
There are also images of St. Peter's Square and of the Basilica of St.
John Lateran, where, at the instruction of the Pope, soup kitchens were
created to feed the population going through the penury of war.
"The film is particularly important as it represents Catholicism's
attempt to communicate through cinematographic art its 'no' to the
war," di Giovanni contended. "The film was practically unable to be
distributed in the post-war period, but it is an essential testimony of
Pope Pius XII's commitment to peace.
"A restoration of the film was presented at the Venice Film Festival
last September, impressing both critics and the public, with a
narrative style inspired in neo-realism -- simple but effective --
which does not hide the horror, but represents it in all its more than
explicit reality, above all if we consider that it is a 1948 film."
The Vatican Film Archive collaborated with the Cineteca Nazionale
Italiana in the restoration of the film and now has a copy to show in
However, these are not the only audiovisual testimonies that recount
Pius XII's aid to the needy, including Jewish victims of the war.
Di Giovanni explained that the Vatican Film Archive recently received
70 films that document the activity of the Pontifical Work of
Assistance (PWA), created by Pius XII to help the victims of World War
This aid organization was established in 1944 with the name Pontifical
Commission of Assistance to Refugees. Later it was called PWA and
offered its services until 1970, helping the poor, the sick, prisoners
and victims of natural disasters.
The Vatican Film Archive will now conduct a study on these films and
ensure their preservation.
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