Pope Pius XI


Pius XI
Bishop of Rome
Papst Pius XI. 1JS.jpg
Pius XI in 1930
Papacy began6 February 1922
Papacy ended10 February 1939
PredecessorBenedict XV
SuccessorPius XII
Ordination20 December 1879
by Raffaele Monaco La Valletta
Consecration28 October 1919
by Aleksander Kakowski
Created cardinal13 June 1921
by Benedict XV
Personal details
Birth nameAmbrogio Damiano Achille Ratti
Born(1857-05-31)31 May 1857
Desio, Lombardy-Venetia, Austrian Empire
Died10 February 1939(1939-02-10) (aged 81)
Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
Previous post
MottoRaptim Transit (It goes by swiftly Job 6:15)[1]
Pax Christi in Regno Christi (The Peace of Christ in the Realm of Christ)[2]
SignaturePius XI's signature
Coat of armsPius XI's coat of arms
Other popes named Pius
Ordination history of
Pope Pius XI
Priestly ordination
Date20 December 1879
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorAleksander Kakowski
Co-consecratorsJózef Sebastian Pelczar
Stanisław Kazimierz Zdzitowiecki
Date28 October 1919
Elevated byBenedict XV
Date13 June 1921
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Pope Pius XI as principal consecrator
Oreste Giorgi27 April 1924
Michele Lega11 July 1926
Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster21 July 1929

Pope Pius XI, (Italian: Pio XI) born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti[a] (Italian: [amˈbrɔ:dʒo daˈmja:no aˈkille ˈratti]; 31 May 1857 – 10 February 1939), was head of the Catholic Church from 6 February 1922 to his death in 1939. He was the first sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929. He took as his papal motto, "Pax Christi in Regno Christi," translated "The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ."

Pius XI issued numerous encyclicals, including Quadragesimo anno on the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's groundbreaking social encyclical Rerum novarum, highlighting the capitalistic greed of international finance, the dangers of socialism/communism, and social justice issues, and Quas primas, establishing the feast of Christ the King in response to anti-clericalism. The encyclical Studiorum ducem, promulgated 29 June 1923, was written on the occasion of the 6th centenary of the canonization of Thomas Aquinas, whose thought is acclaimed as central to Catholic philosophy and theology. The encyclical also singles out the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum as the preeminent institution for the teaching of Aquinas: "ante omnia Pontificium Collegium Angelicum, ubi Thomam tamquam domi suae habitare dixeris" (before all others the Pontifical Angelicum College, where Thomas can be said to dwell).[3][4]

To establish or maintain the position of the Catholic Church, Pius XI concluded a record number of concordats, including the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany, whose betrayals of which he condemned four years later in the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge ("With Burning Concern"). During his pontificate, the longstanding hostility with the Italian government over the status of the papacy and the Church in Italy was successfully resolved in the Lateran Treaty of 1929. He was unable to stop the persecution of the Church and the killing of clergy in Mexico, Spain and the Soviet Union. He canonized important saints, including Thomas More, Petrus Canisius, Konrad von Parzham, Andrew Bobola and Don Bosco. He beatified and canonized Thérèse de Lisieux, for whom he held special reverence, and gave equivalent canonization to Albertus Magnus, naming him a Doctor of the Church due to the spiritual power of his writings. He took a strong interest in fostering the participation of lay people throughout the Catholic Church, especially in the Catholic Action movement. The end of his pontificate was dominated by speaking out against Hitler and Mussolini and defending the Catholic Church from intrusions into Catholic life and education.

Pius XI died on 10 February 1939 in the Apostolic Palace and is buried in the Papal Grotto of Saint Peter's Basilica. In the course of excavating space for his tomb, two levels of burial grounds were uncovered which revealed bones now venerated as the bones of St. Peter.[5][6][7]

Early life and career

The parents of Pius XI

Achille Ratti was born in Desio, in the province of Milan, in 1857, the son of an owner of a silk factory.[8] His parents were Francesco and Teresa; his siblings were Edoardo (1855–96), Camilla (1860–???), Carlo (1853–1906), Fermo (1854–???), and Cipriano. He was ordained a priest in 1879 and embarked on an academic career within the Church. He obtained three doctorates (in philosophy, canon law and theology) at the Gregorian University in Rome, and then from 1882 to 1888 was a professor at the seminary in Padua. His scholarly specialty was as an expert paleographer, a student of ancient and medieval Church manuscripts. Eventually, he left seminary teaching to work full-time at the Ambrosian Library in Milan, from 1888 to 1911.[9]

During this time, Ratti edited and published an edition of the Ambrosian Missal (the rite of Mass used in Milan), and researched and wrote much on the life and works of St. Charles Borromeo. He became chief of the Library in 1907 and undertook a thorough programme of restoration and re-classification of the Ambrosian's collection. He was also an avid mountaineer in his spare time, reaching the summits of Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Presolana. The combination of a scholar-athlete pope would not be seen again until the pontificate of John Paul II. In 1911, at Pope Pius X's (1903–1914) invitation, he moved to the Vatican to become Vice-Prefect of the Vatican Library, and in 1914 was promoted to Prefect.[10]

Nuncio to Poland and Expulsion

Ratti (centre) circa 1900 in the Alps on a tour.
The young Ratti as a newly ordained priest

In 1918, Pope Benedict XV (1914–1922) asked Ratti to change careers and take a diplomatic post: apostolic visitor (that is, unofficial papal representative) in Poland, a state newly restored to existence, but still under effective German and Austro-Hungarian control. In October 1918, Benedict was the first head of state to congratulate the Polish people on the occasion of the restoration of their independence.[11] In March 1919, he nominated ten new bishops and, soon after, upgraded Ratti's position in Warsaw to the official position of papal nuncio.[11] Ratti was consecrated as a titular archbishop in October 1919.

Benedict XV and Ratti repeatedly cautioned Polish authorities against persecuting the Lithuanian and Ruthenian clergy.[12] During the Bolshevik advance against Warsaw, the Pope asked for worldwide public prayers for Poland, while Ratti was the only foreign diplomat who refused to flee Warsaw when the Red Army was approaching the city in August 1920.[13] On 11 June 1921, Benedict XV asked Ratti to deliver his message to the Polish episcopate, warning against political misuses of spiritual power, urging again peaceful coexistence with neighbouring people, stating that "love of country has its limits in justice and obligations".[14]

Ratti intended to work for Poland by building bridges to men of goodwill in the Soviet Union, even to shedding his blood for Russia.[15] Benedict, however, needed Ratti as a diplomat, not as a martyr, and forbade his traveling into the USSR despite his being the official papal delegate for Russia.[15] The nuncio's continued contacts with Russians did not generate much sympathy for him within Poland at the time. After Pope Benedict sent Ratti to Silesia to forestall potential political agitation within the Polish Catholic clergy,[12] the nuncio was asked to leave Poland. On 20 November, when German Cardinal Adolf Bertram announced a papal ban on all political activities of clergymen, calls for Ratti's expulsion climaxed.[16] Ratti was asked to leave. "While he tried honestly to show himself as a friend of Poland, Warsaw forced his departure, after his neutrality in Silesian voting was questioned"[17] by Germans and Poles. Nationalistic Germans objected to the Polish nuncio supervising local elections, and patriotic Poles were upset because he curtailed political action among the clergy.[16]

Achille Ratti, shortly after his consecration as bishop

Elevation to the papacy

Pius XI makes his first public appearance as pope in 1922. The coat of arms on the banner is that of Pope Pius IX.

In the consistory of 3 June 1921, Pope Benedict XV created three new cardinals, including Ratti, who was appointed Archbishop of Milan simultaneously. The pope joked with them, saying, "Well, today I gave you the red hat, but soon it will be white for one of you."[18] After the Vatican celebration, Ratti went to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino for a retreat to prepare spiritually for his new role. He accompanied Milanese pilgrims to Lourdes in August 1921.[18] Ratti received a tumultuous welcome on a visit to his home town Desio, and was enthroned in Milan on 8 September. On 22 January 1922, Pope Benedict XV died unexpectedly of pneumonia.[19]

At the conclave to choose a new pope, which proved to be the longest of the 20th century, the College of Cardinals was divided into two factions, one led by Rafael Merry del Val favoring the policies and style of Pope Pius X and the other favoring those of Pope Benedict XV led by Pietro Gasparri.[20]

Gasparri approached Ratti before voting began on the third day and told him he would urge his supporters to switch their votes to Ratti, who was shocked to hear this. When it became clear that neither Gasparri nor del Val could win, the cardinals approached Ratti, thinking him a compromise candidate not identified with either faction. Cardinal Gaetano de Lai approached Ratti and was believed to have said: "We will vote for Your Eminence if Your Eminence will promise that you will not choose Cardinal Gasparri as your secretary of state". Ratti is said to have responded: "I hope and pray that among so highly deserving cardinals the Holy Spirit selects someone else. If I am chosen, it is indeed Cardinal Gasparri whom I will take to be my secretary of state".[20]

Ratti was elected pope on the conclave's fourteenth ballot on 6 February 1922 and took the name "Pius XI", explaining that Pius IX was the pope of his youth and Pius X had appointed him head of the Vatican Library. It was rumoured that immediately after the election, he decided to appoint Pietro Gasparri as his Cardinal Secretary of State.[20]

It was said after the dean Cardinal Vincenzo Vannutelli asked if he ascented to the election that Ratti paused in silence for two minutes according to Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier. The Hungarian cardinal János Csernoch later commented: "We made Cardinal Ratti pass through the fourteen stations of the Via Crucis and then we left him alone on Calvary".[21]

As Pius XI's first act as pope, he revived the traditional public blessing from the balcony, Urbi et Orbi ("to the city and to the world"), abandoned by his predecessors since the loss of Rome to the Italian state in 1870. This suggested his openness to a rapprochement with the government of Italy.[22] Less than a month later, considering that all four cardinals from the Western Hemisphere had been unable to participate in his election, he issued Cum proxime to allow the College of Cardinals to delay the start of a conclave for as long as eighteen days following the death of a pope.[23][24]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Pous Pius XI
aragonés: Pío XI
Aymar aru: Piyu XI
azərbaycanca: XI Piy
Bân-lâm-gú: Kàu-hông Pius 11-sè
беларуская: Пій XI (Папа Рымскі)
български: Пий XI
Boarisch: Pius XI.
brezhoneg: Pi XI
català: Pius XI
čeština: Pius XI.
Cymraeg: Pab Pïws XI
Deutsch: Pius XI.
dolnoserbski: Pius XI.
eesti: Pius XI
Ελληνικά: Πάπας Πίος ΙΑ΄
español: Pío XI
Esperanto: Pio la 11-a
euskara: Pio XI.a
français: Pie XI
furlan: Pape Piu XI
Gaeilge: Pápa Pius XI
Gàidhlig: Pàpa Pius XI
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kau-fòng Pius 11-sṳ
հայերեն: Պիոս XI
hornjoserbsce: Pius XI.
hrvatski: Pio XI.
Ilokano: Papa Pio XI
Bahasa Indonesia: Paus Pius XI
íslenska: Píus 11.
italiano: Papa Pio XI
Basa Jawa: Paus Pius XI
Kapampangan: Papa Piu XI
ქართული: პიუს XI
kaszëbsczi: Papiéż Pius XI
Kiswahili: Papa Pius XI
Latina: Pius XI
latviešu: Pijs XI
Lëtzebuergesch: Pius XI. (Poopst)
lietuvių: Pijus XI
lingála: Pápa Pie XI
македонски: Папа Пиј XI
Bahasa Melayu: Paus Pius XI
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Gáu-huòng Pius 11-sié
Nederlands: Paus Pius XI
norsk: Pius XI
norsk nynorsk: Pave Pius XI
occitan: Piu XI
polski: Pius XI
português: Papa Pio XI
Runa Simi: Piyu XI
русский: Пий XI
sicilianu: Piu XI
Simple English: Pope Pius XI
slovenčina: Pius XI.
slovenščina: Papež Pij XI.
српски / srpski: Папа Пије XI
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Pio XI.
suomi: Pius XI
svenska: Pius XI
Tagalog: Papa Pio XI
татарча/tatarça: Пий XI
Türkçe: XI. Pius
українська: Пій XI
vèneto: Papa Pio XI
Tiếng Việt: Giáo hoàng Piô XI
West-Vlams: Paus Pius XI
Winaray: Papa Pío XI
Yorùbá: Pópù Pius 11k