Coins of Pope Pius XII


Eugenio Pacelli was born in 1876 in Rome and ordained a priest in 1899. He entered the Vatican's secretariat of state and in 1912 he became undersecretary of state. After becoming a bishop, in 1917 he was appointed nuncio to Bavaria. He stayed in Germany until 1929 and concluded concordats with Bavaria and Prussia. He was made cardinal in 1929 and papal secretary of state in 1930, succeeding Cardinal Gasparri. In 1933 he negotiated the concordat with Nazi Germany.

He was elevated to the papacy in 1939 as successor of Pius XI. In his first encyclical Summi pontificatus Pius made a general attack on totalitarianism, but during World War II the Vatican maintained formal relations with all the belligerents. He was later much criticized for not speaking out against the Nazi persecution of the Jews. After the war Pius was alarmed by the resurgence of Communism in Italy and in 1949 he excommunicated Italian Catholics who joined the Communist party. In retaliation for the political persecution of the church in Communist Eastern Europe, Pius excommunicated the political leaders of Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Poland.

Pius had as only secretary of state Cardinal Luigi Maglione, and after his death in 1944 the pope acted as his own secretary of state.  He died in 1958 and he was succeeded by John XXIII. In 1965 the proceedings for Pope Pius beatification begun.

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