Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Vatican newspaper recalls friendship between Pope Pius XI, rabbi

Catholic World News - December 10, 2013

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, David Sciunnach, an Italian rabbi, discussed the friendship between Pope Pius XI, who reigned from 1922 to 1939, and Rabbi Alessandro Elishà da Fano (1847-1935).

The decades-long friendship began when the future pope, then a seminary professor, learned Hebrew from the rabbi.

According to Sciunnach, Fano’s grandson said that during their last meeting in 1935, Rabbi Fano laid his hands on Pope Pius’s head to bless him, and the Pope laid his hands on the rabbi’s head to bless him in turn – an “historic twofold gesture” that was “unthinkable” in the days before the Second Vatican Council.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our August expenses ($21,772 to go):
$35,000.00 $13,228.44
62% 38%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Dec. 10, 2013 7:03 AM ET USA

    This is a fascinating. It is a shame that Catholics at that time did not know about this gesture. Had they seen it or at least heard of it, what crimes might have been forestalled across Europe! Even in Germany, where so many Catholics were locked in the grave sin of antisemitism, knowledge of this mutual blessing might have given them serious reason to pause and reflect. And how it would have heartened those like Jacques Maritain who were fighting this vicious prejudice in the Church!

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

An unexpected surge in confessions? 15 hours ago
The Problem with Catholic Social Teaching 20 hours ago
In Iraq, the Pope has good reason to seek intervention, but fear unilateral US action August 20
As Catholic News Unfolds... August 19
An Iraqi archbishop's warning to the West August 19

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
‘A real via crucis’: Pope Francis, patriarch plead on behalf of Iraq’s Christians CWN - August 8
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians in flight as Islamic State advances CWN - August 8