Berlin, Richard E., 1894- / Diary of a flight to occupied Germany, July 20 to August 27, 1945.
Audience with his holiness, pp. 101-104 PDF (1007.0 KB)
kindly remembered to various friends. After about twenty minutes of delightful conversation, we arose to depart. He asked us if we would accept a gift of Rosary Beads, and we said we would be delighted. He first asked Johnnie Hanes how many pairs he would like. John hesitated, and said, two, if not too many. He gave John two pairs and then he asked me the same question. I wanted to say a dozen but said two. Then he asked Warren Johnson, my brother-in-law, who was with us, the same question. Warren also replied, two. His Holiness smiled beneficently at Warren and said, "You are a Lieutenant. In English we call you a Leftenant." He asked us which we wished, black beads or white beads. We diplomatically replied by saying one of each. Upon arising to go, I asked His Holiness if he would bless some of the ecclesiastical objects we had brought with us. He replied "I bless you, your children, your family, your lovely country and your people." Upon leaving he said to us, "I ask you not to publish anything I've said. I've spoken to you from the heart and not officially." Obviously, I have obeyed his request. Upon leaving the Vatican, we were told His Holiness has not been outside his quarters for seven years; that during the War, he protected 1000 foreigners in the Vatican, including Russian offi- cials. His Holiness indicated in our conversation he was fighting for freedom of religion in the world; not just Catholicism, but the privilege for everyone to worship God as his conscience dictated. We were told that, in all of his encyclicals throughout the War, he never once referred to Hitler or Mussolini by name, but in- stead diplomatically criticized Nazis and Fascists. From this inspiring audience with His Holiness we returned to the Grand Hotel, having been photographed with the Swiss Guards while in the Vatican. In the afternoon we went sight-seeing about Rome, mingling with the American soldiers, who were everywhere. The Holy City has been spared the scars of battle. 103
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