Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 12:00p.m.
The St. Louis County Library Foundation is pleased to present historian David Kertzer author of “The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe” on Thursday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m. at Library Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
The program is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase at the event from Left Bank Books.
The event is co-sponsored by Maryville University.
From National Book Award finalist David I. Kertzer comes the gripping story of Pope Pius XI’s secret relations with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. This groundbreaking work, based on seven years of research in the Vatican and Fascist archives, including reports from Mussolini’s spies inside the highest levels of the Church, will forever change our understanding of the Vatican’s role in the rise of Fascism in Europe.
In a challenge to the conventional history of the period, in which a heroic Church does battle with the Fascist regime, Kertzer shows how Pius XI played a crucial role in making Mussolini’s dictatorship possible and keeping him in power. In exchange for Vatican support, Mussolini restored many privileges the Church had lost and gave in to the Pope’s demands that the police enforce Catholic morality. Yet in the last years of his life–as the Italian dictator grew closer to Hitler–the pontiff’s faith in this treacherous bargain started to waver and he threatened to denounce Mussolini’s anti-semitic racial laws.
With the recent opening of the Vatican archives covering Pius XI’s papacy, the full story of the Pope’s complex relationship with his Fascist partner can finally be told. Vivid, dramatic, with surprises at every turn, “The Pope and Mussolini” is history writ large.
David I. Kertzer is a professor of anthropology and Italian studies at Brown University, where he served as provost from 2006 to 2011. He is the author of nine books, including “The Popes Against the Jews” and “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has twice been awarded the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best work on Italian history.
Program sites are accessible. Upon two weeks notice, accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities. Contact St. Louis County Library by phone 314-994-3300 or visit www.slcl.org.