Pope Benedict XV
Overview
 
Pope Benedict XV born Giacomo Paolo Giovanni Battista della Chiesa, reigned as Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 from 3 September 1914 to 22 January 1922. His pontificate was largely overshadowed by World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and its political, social and humanitarian consequences in Europe.

Between 1846 and 1903, the Church experienced its two longest pontificates in history, up to that point. Together Pius IX and Leo XIII ruled for 57 years.
Encyclopedia
Pope Benedict XV born Giacomo Paolo Giovanni Battista della Chiesa, reigned as Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 from 3 September 1914 to 22 January 1922. His pontificate was largely overshadowed by World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and its political, social and humanitarian consequences in Europe.

Between 1846 and 1903, the Church experienced its two longest pontificates in history, up to that point. Together Pius IX and Leo XIII ruled for 57 years. In 1914, the Cardinals choose Della Chiesa at the age of 59, indicating their desire for another long-lasting pontificate at the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, which he labeled “the suicide of civilized Europe.” The war and its consequences were the main focus of Benedict. He declared the neutrality of the Holy See and attempted from that perspective to mediate peace in 1916 and 1917. Both sides rejected his initiatives. German Protestants rejected any “Papal Peace” as insulting. French politician Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

 regarded the Vatican initiative as anti-French.

Having failed with diplomatic initiatives, the Pope focused on humanitarian efforts to lessen the impacts of the war, such as attending prisoners of war, the exchange of wounded soldiers and food deliveries to needy populations in Europe. After the war, he repaired the difficult relations with France, which re-established relations with the Vatican in 1921. During his pontificate, relations with Italy improved as well, as the Pope now permitted Catholic politicians led by Don Luigi Sturzo
Luigi Sturzo
Don Luigi Sturzo was an Italian Catholic priest and politician. Known in his lifetime as a "clerical socialist," Sturzo is considered one of the fathers of Christian democracy. Sturzo was one of the founders of the Partito Popolare Italiano in 1919, but was forced into exile in 1924 with the rise...

 to participate in national Italian politics.

Benedict issued in 1917 the first ever Code of Canon Law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 of the Roman Catholic Church, the creation of which he had prepared with Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri was a Roman Catholic archbishop, diplomat and politician in the Roman Curia and signatory of the Lateran Pacts.- Biography :...

 and Eugenio Pacelli during the pontificate of Pius X. The new Code of Canon Law is considered to have stimulated religious life and activities throughout the Church. He named Pietro Gasparri to be his Cardinal Secretary of State
Cardinal Secretary of State
The Cardinal Secretary of State—officially Secretary of State of His Holiness The Pope—presides over the Holy See, usually known as the "Vatican", Secretariat of State, which is the oldest and most important dicastery of the Roman Curia...

 and personally consecrated Nuncio
Nuncio
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin word, Nuntius, meaning "envoy." This article addresses this title as well as derived similar titles, all within the structure of the Roman Catholic Church...

 Eugenio Pacelli on 13 May 1917 as Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 on the very day of the Marian apparitions in Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fátima is a famous title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she appeared in apparitions reported by three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal. These occurred on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13...

. World War One caused great damage to Catholic missions throughout the world. Benedict revitalized these activities, asking in Maximum Illud for Catholics throughout the world to participate.

His last concern was the emerging persecution of the Church in the Soviet Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

 and the famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 there after the revolution. Benedict was an ardent mariologist, devoted to Marian veneration
Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic)
Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is based on Holy Scripture: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a virgin. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honour as Mother of God...

 and open to new perspectives of Roman Catholic Mariology. He supported the mediatrix
Mediatrix
Mediatrix in Roman Catholic Mariology refers to the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a mediator in the salvation process. It is a separate concept from Co-Redemptrix....

 theology and authorized the Feast of Mary Mediator of all Graces. After just over seven years in office, Pope Benedict XV died on 22 January 1922. With his diplomatic skills and his openness towards modern society, "he gained respect for himself and the papacy."

Early life

Giacomo della Chiesa was born at Pegli
Pegli
Pegli is a neighbourhood in the west of Genoa, Italy.With a mild climate and a sea promenade, Pegli is mainly a residential area with four public parks and several villas and mansions. It is also known as a tourist resort with some hotels, camping and bathing establishments...

, a suburb of Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, Italy, third son of Marchese Giuseppe della Chiesa and his wife Marchesa Giovanna Migliorati.

His wish to become a priest was rejected early on by his father who insisted on a legal career for his son. At age 21 he acquired a doctorate in Law on 2 August 1875. He had attended the University of Genoa, which after the unification of Italy, was largely dominated by anti-Catholic and anti-clerical politics. With his doctorate in Law and at legal age, he again asked his father for permission to study for the priesthood, which was now reluctantly granted. He insisted however, that his son conduct his theological studies in Rome not in Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, so that he would not end up as a village priest or provincial Monsignore

Della Chiesa entered the Collegio Capranica and was there in Rome when, in 1878, Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 died and was followed by Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

. The new pope received the students of the Capranica in private audience only a few days after his investiture. Shortly thereafter, Della Chiesa was ordained a priest by Cardinal Patrizi on 21 December 1878.

From 1878 until 1883 he studied at the Papal Academy Pontificia Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici
Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy is one of the Roman Colleges of the Roman Catholic Church. The academy is dedicated to training priests to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See....

 in Rome. It was there, on every Thursday, that students were required to defend a research paper, to which cardinals and high members of the Roman Curia were invited. Cardinal Mariano Rampolla took note of him and furthered his entry in the diplomatic service of the Vatican in 1882, where he was employed by Rampolla as a secretary and soon to be posted to Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

. When Rampolla subsequently was appointed Cardinal Secretary of State
Cardinal Secretary of State
The Cardinal Secretary of State—officially Secretary of State of His Holiness The Pope—presides over the Holy See, usually known as the "Vatican", Secretariat of State, which is the oldest and most important dicastery of the Roman Curia...

, Della Chiesa followed him. During these years Della Chiesa helped negotiate the resolution of a dispute between Germany and Spain over the Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

 as well as organising relief during a cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 epidemic.

His ambitious mother, Marchesa Della Chiesa, is said to have been discontented with the career of her son, cornering Rampolla with the words, that in her opinion, Giacomo was not properly recognised in the Vatican. Rampolla allegedly replied, Signora, your son will take only a few steps, but they will be gigantic ones.

Just after Leo XIII's and Cardinal Volpini's death, Rampolla tried to make Della Chiesa secretary of the conclave. But the Holy College elected Merry del Val a conservative young prelate, first sign that Rampolla will not be the next Pope. When Cardinal Rampolla had to leave his post with the election of his opponent Pope Pius X
Pope Pius X
Pope Saint Pius X , born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the 257th Pope of the Catholic Church, serving from 1903 to 1914. He was the first pope since Pope Pius V to be canonized. Pius X rejected modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox...

, and was succeeded by Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, Della Chiesa was retained in his post.

Bologna

Archbishop

But Della Chiesa's association with Rampolla, the architect of Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

's (1878–1903) foreign policy, made his position in the Secretariat of State under the new pontificate somewhat uncomfortable. Italian papers announced that on 15 April 1907, the papal nuncio Aristide Rinaldini
Aristide Rinaldini
Aristide Rinaldini was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Nuncio to Spain from 1899 to 1907, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1907.-Biography:...

 in Madrid would be replaced by Della Chiesa, who had worked there before. Pius X chuckling over the journalist’s knowledge, commented, unfortunately, the paper forgot to mention whom I nominated as the next Archbishop of Bologna
Archdiocese of Bologna
The Archdiocese of Bologna is a Roman Catholic archbishopric in northern Italy, with the archiepiscopal seat in Bologna Cathedral. The current Archbishop is Cardinal Carlo Caffarra since 2003.The archdiocese has the following suffragans:*diocese of Imola...

.
In the presence of his family, the Diplomatic corps, numerous bishops and cardinals, and his friend Rampolla, on 18 December 1907, he received the episcopal consecration from Pope Pius X
Pope Pius X
Pope Saint Pius X , born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the 257th Pope of the Catholic Church, serving from 1903 to 1914. He was the first pope since Pope Pius V to be canonized. Pius X rejected modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox...

 himself. The Pope donated his own :Episcopal ring and crosier
Crosier
A crosier is the stylized staff of office carried by high-ranking Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutheran and Pentecostal prelates...

 to the new bishop and spent much time with the Della Chiesa family on the following day. On 23 February 1908, Della Chiesa took possession of his new dioceses, which included 700,000 persons, 750 priests, as well as 19 male and 78 female religious institutes. In the Episcopal seminary, some 25 teachers educated 120 students, preparing for the priesthood.

As bishop he visited all parishes, making a special effort to see the smaller ones in the mountains, which could only be accessed by horse. Della Chiesa always saw preaching as the main obligation of a bishop. He usually gave two or more sermons a day during his visitations. His emphasis was on cleanliness inside all churches and chapels and on saving money wherever possible: Let us save to give to the poor. A meeting of all priests in a Synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 had to be postponed at the wish of the Vatican considering ongoing changes in Canon Law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

. Numerous churches were built or restored. Della Chiesa personally originated a major reform of the educational orientation of the seminary, adding more science courses and classic education to the curriculum
Curriculum
See also Syllabus.In formal education, a curriculum is the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university. As an idea, curriculum stems from the Latin word for race course, referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults...

. He organized pilgrimages to Marian shrines in Loreto
Loreto (AN)
Loreto is a hilltown and comune of the Italian province of Ancona, in the Marche. It is mostly famous as the seat of the Basilica della Santa Casa, a popular Catholic pilgrimage site.-Location:...

 and Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes is the name used to refer to the Marian apparition said to have appeared before various individuals on separate occasions around Lourdes, France...

 at the 50th anniversary of the apparition. The unexpected death of his friend, supporter and mentor Rampolla on 13 December, was a major blow to Giacomo Della Chiesa, who was one of the beneficiaries of his will.

Cardinal

It was custom that the Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 would be created cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, in one of the coming consistories
Consistory
-Antiquity:Originally, the Latin word consistorium meant simply 'sitting together', just as the Greek synedrion ....

. In Bologna this was surely expected of Della Chiesa as well, since, in previous years, either Cardinals were named as archbishops, or archbishops as Cardinals soon thereafter. Pius X did not follow this tradition and left Della Chiesa waiting for almost seven years. When a delegation from Bologna visited him, to ask for Della Chiesa's promotion to the College of Cardinals, he jokingly replied by making fun of his own family name Sarto (meaning Tailor): Sorry, but a Sarto has not been found yet, to make the Cardinal's robe. Some suspected that Pius X or persons close to him did not want to have two Rampollas in the College of Cardinals. His friend Cardinal Rampolla died 13 December 1913. On 25 May 1914, Della Chiesa was created a cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, becoming Cardinal-Priest of the titulus Santi Quattro Coronati
Santi Quattro Coronati
Santi Quattro Coronati is an ancient basilica in Rome, Italy. The church dates back to the 4th century, and is devoted to four anonymous saints and martyrs. The complex of the basilica with its two courtyards, the fortified Cardinal Palace with the St...

,
which before him was occupied by Pietro Respighi
Pietro Respighi
Pietro Respighi S.T.D. JUD was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.He was born in Bologna and received the sacrament of confirmation in November 1850...

. When after the consistory in Rome, the new cardinal tried to return to Bologna, an unrelated socialist, anti-monarchic and anti-Catholic uprising began to take place in Central Italy, accompanied by a general strike, the looting and destruction of churches, telephone connections and railway buildings and a proclamation of a secular republic. In Bologna itself, citizens and the Catholic Church opposed such developments successfully. The Socialists overwhelmingly won the following regional elections with great majorities.

As World War One approached, the question was hotly discussed in Italy as to which side to be on. Officially, Italy was still in an alliance
Alliance
An alliance is an agreement or friendship between two or more parties, made in order to advance common goals and to secure common interests.See also military alliance and business alliance.-International relations:...

 with Germany and Austria–Hungary. However, in the Tirol
Tyrol (state)
Tyrol is a state or Bundesland, located in the west of Austria. It comprises the Austrian part of the historical region of Tyrol.The state is split into two parts–called North Tyrol and East Tyrol–by a -wide strip of land where the state of Salzburg borders directly on the Italian province of...

, an integral part of Austria and which was mostly German-speaking, the southern part, the province of Trento
Trento
Trento is an Italian city located in the Adige River valley in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. It is the capital of Trentino...

, was exclusively Italian-speaking. The clergy of Bologna was not totally free from nationalistic fervor either. Therefore in his capacity as Archbishop, on the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Della Chiesa made a speech on the Church's position and duties, emphasizing the need for neutrality
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

, promoting peace and the easing of suffering.

Pontificate

The conclave opened at the end of August 1914. The war would clearly be the dominant issue of the new pontificate, so the cardinals' priority was to choose a man with great diplomatic experience. Thus on 3 September 1914 Della Chiesa, despite having been a cardinal only three months, was elected Pope, taking the name of Benedict XV. Upon being elected pope he was also formally the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, prefect of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition , and after 1904 called the Supreme...

, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Congregation for the Oriental Churches
The Congregation for the Oriental Churches is the dicastery of the Roman Curia responsible for contact with the Eastern Catholic Churches for the sake of assisting their development, protecting their rights and also maintaining whole and entire in the one Catholic Church, alongside the liturgical,...

 and prefect of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation
Congregation for Bishops
The Congregation for Bishops is the congregation of the Roman Curia which oversees the selection of new bishops that are not in mission territories or those areas that come under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches who deal with the Eastern Catholics, pending papal...

. There was however a Cardinal-Secretary to run these bodies on a day-to-day basis.

Due to the enduring Roman Question
Roman Question
thumb|300px|The breach of [[Porta Pia]], on the right, in a contemporaneous photograph.The Roman Question was a political dispute between the Italian Government and the Papacy from 1861 to 1929....

, after the announcement of his election by the Cardinal Protodeacon the new Pope, following in the footsteps of his two predecessors, did not appear at the balcony of St. Peter's basilica to grant the urbi et orbi
Urbi et Orbi
Urbi et Orbi denotes a papal address and Apostolic Blessing that is given to the City of Rome and to the entire world, on certain occasions. It was a standard opening of Ancient Roman proclamations....

blessing. Benedict XV was crowned at the Sistine Chapel on 6 September 1914, and, also as a form of protest due to the Roman Question, there was no ceremony for the formal possession of the Cathedral of St. John Lateran.

Benedict XV's pontificate was dominated by World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, which he termed "the suicide of Europe," and its turbulent aftermath. Benedict's first encyclical extended a heartfelt plea for an end to hostilities. His early call for a Christmas truce
Christmas truce
Christmas truce was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires that took place along the Western Front around Christmas of 1914, during the First World War...

 in 1914 was ignored.

Peace efforts

The war and its consequences were Benedict's main focus during the early years of his pontificate. He declared the neutrality of the Holy See and attempted from that perspective to mediate peace in 1916 and 1917. Both sides rejected his initiatives.

The national antagonisms between the warring parties were accentuated by religious differences before the war, with France, Italy and Belgium being largely Catholic. Vatican relations with Great Britain were good, while neither Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 nor Imperial Germany had any official relations with the Vatican. In Protestant circles of Germany the notion was popular that the Roman Catholic Pope was neutral on paper only, strongly favouring the Allies instead. Benedict was said to have prompted Austria–Hungary to go to war, to weaken the German war machine. Allegedly, the Papal Nuncio in Paris said in a meeting of the Institut Catholique, to fight against France is to fight against God; the Pope was said to have exclaimed to be sorry not to be a Frenchman. The Belgian Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier
Désiré-Joseph Mercier
-Early life and ordination:Désiré Mercier was born at the château du Castegier in Braine-l'Alleud, as the fifth of the seven children of Paul-Léon Mercier and his wife Anne-Marie Barbe Croquet....

, known as a brave patriot during German occupation but also famous for his anti-German propaganda, was to have been elevated by Benedict XV, who allegedly praised the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, which humiliated the Germans.

These allegations were rejected by the Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State
Cardinal Secretary of State
The Cardinal Secretary of State—officially Secretary of State of His Holiness The Pope—presides over the Holy See, usually known as the "Vatican", Secretariat of State, which is the oldest and most important dicastery of the Roman Curia...

 Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri was a Roman Catholic archbishop, diplomat and politician in the Roman Curia and signatory of the Lateran Pacts.- Biography :...

, who wrote on 4 March 1916 that the Holy See is completely impartial and does not favor the Allied side. This was even more important, so Gasparri noted, after the diplomatic representatives of Germany and Austria–Hungary to the Vatican were expelled from Rome by Italian authorities. However considering all this, German Protestants rejected any “Papal Peace” as insulting. French politician Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

 regarded the Vatican initiative as anti-French. Benedict made many unsuccessful attempts to negotiate peace, but these pleas for a negotiated peace made him unpopular, even in Catholic countries like Italy, among many supporters of the war who were determined to accept nothing less than total victory.

On 1 August 1917, Benedict issued a seven point peace plan stating that: (1) "the moral force of right . . . be substituted for the material force of arms," (2) there must be "simultaneous and reciprocal diminution of armaments," (3) a mechanism for "international arbitration" must be established," (4) "true liberty and common rights over the sea" should exist, (5) there should be a "renunciation of war indemnities," (6) occupied territories should be evacuated, and (7) there should be "an examination . . . of rival claims." Great Britain reacted favourably but President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 rejected the plan. Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary were favorable but Germany replied ambiguously. Benedict also called for outlawing conscription, a call he repeated in 1921. Some of the proposals eventually were included in Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points
Fourteen Points
The Fourteen Points was a speech given by United States President Woodrow Wilson to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918. The address was intended to assure the country that the Great War was being fought for a moral cause and for postwar peace in Europe...

 call for peace in January 1918.

In Europe each side saw him as biased in favour of the other and was unwilling to accept the terms he proposed. Still, although unsuccessful, his diplomatic efforts during the war are attributed to an increase of papal prestige and served as a model in the 20th century: to the peace efforts of Pius XII before and during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the policies of Paul VI during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and the position of John Paul II before and during the War in Iraq.

Humanitarian efforts

Almost from the beginning of the war, November 1914, Benedict negotiated with the warring parties about an exchange of wounded and other prisoners of war who were unable to continue fighting. Tens of thousands of such prisoners were exchanged through the intervention of Benedict XV. On 15 January 1915, the Pope proposed an exchange of civilians from the occupied zones, which resulted in 20,000 persons being sent to unoccupied Southern France in one month. In 1916, the Pope managed to hammer out an agreement between both sides, by which 29,000 prisoners with lung disease from the gas attacks could be sent into Switzerland In May 1918, he also reached agreement that prisoners on both sides with at least 18 months of captivity and four children at home, would also be sent to neutral Switzerland.

He succeeded in 1915 in reaching an agreement by which the warring parties promised not to let POWs work on Sundays and Holidays. Several individuals on both sides were spared the death penalty after his intervention. Hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

s were exchanged and corpses repatriated The Pope founded the Opera dei Prigionieri to assist in distributing information on prisoners. By the end of the war, some 600,000 items of correspondence were processed. Almost a third of it concerned missing persons. Some 40,000 people had asked for help in the repatriation of sick POWs and 50,000 letters were sent from families to their loved ones who were POWs.

Both during and after the war, Benedict was primarily concerned about the fate of the children, about which he even issued an encyclical. In 1916 he appealed to the people and clergy of the United States to help him feed the starving children in German-occupied Belgium. His aid to children was not limited to Belgium but extended to children in Lithuania, Poland, Lebanon, Montenegro, Syria and Russia. Benedict was particularly appalled at the new military invention of aerial warfare and protested several times against it to no avail.

In May and June 1915, the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 waged a campaign against the Armenian Christian minorities, which by some contemporary accounts looked like genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 or even a holocaust in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. The Vatican attempted to get Germany and Austria–Hungary involved in protesting to its Turkish ally. The Pope himself sent a personal letter to the Sultan, who was also Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 of Islam. It had no success “as over a million Armenians died, either killed outright by the Turks, or as a result of maltreatment or from starvation."

After the war

At the time however, the anti-Vatican resentment, combined with Italian diplomatic moves to isolate the Vatican in light of the unresolved Roman Question, contributed to the exclusion of the Vatican from the Paris Peace conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 of 1919 (although it was also part of a historical pattern of political and diplomatic marginalization of the papacy after the loss of the papal states). Despite this, he wrote an encyclical
Encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

 pleading for international reconciliation, Pacem, Dei Munus Pulcherrimum There is a statue in Saint Peter's Basilica of the Pontiff absorbed in prayer, kneeling on a tomb which commemorates a fallen soldier of the war, which he described as a "useless massacre."

After the war, Benedict focused the Vatican's activities on overcoming famine and misery in Europe and establishing contacts and relations with the many new states which were created because of the demise of Imperial Russia, Austria–Hungary and Germany. Large food shipments and information about, and contacts with, prisoners of war were to be the first steps for a better understanding of the papacy in Europe.

Regarding the Versailles Peace Conference, the Vatican believed that the economic conditions imposed on Germany were too harsh, threatening the European economic stability as a whole. Cardinal Gasparri believed that the peace conditions and the humiliation of the Germans would likely result in another war, as soon as Germany would be militarily in a position to start one. The Vatican also rejected the dissolution of Austria–Hungary, seeing in this step an inevitable and eventual strengthening of Germany. The Vatican also had great reservations about the creation of small successor states which, in the view of Gasparri, were not viable economically and therefore condemned to economic misery. Benedict rejected the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 as a secular organisation that was not built on Christian values. On the other hand, he also condemned European nationalism that was rampant in the 1920s and asked for European Unification in his 1920 encyclical Pacem Dei Munus.

The Pope was also disturbed by the Communist revolution in Russia. The Pope reacted with horror to the strongly anti-religious policies adopted by Lenin's government and the bloodshed and widespread famine which occurred during the subsequent Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

. He undertook the greatest efforts trying to help the victims of the Russian famine, raising five million in 1921 alone. Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, concerns were raised in the Vatican about the safety and future of the Catholics in the Holy Land.

Diplomatic agenda

In the post-war period Pope Benedict was involved in developing the Church administration to deal with the new international system that had emerged. The papacy was faced with the emergence of numerous new states such as Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, Finland, and others. Germany, France, Italy and Austria were impoverished from the war. In addition, the traditional social and cultural European order was threatened by right-wing nationalism and fascism and left-wing socialism and communism, all of which potentially threatened the existence and freedom of the Church. To deal with these and related issues, Benedict engaged in what he knew best, a large scale diplomatic offensive to secure the rights of the faithful in all countries.

Italy

Leo XIII already had agreed to the participation of Catholics in local but not national politics. Relations with Italy improved as well under Benedict XV, who de facto reversed the stiff anti-Italian policy of his predecessors by allowing Catholics to participate in national elections as well. This led to a surgence of the Partito Populare Italiano
Italian People's Party
There have been two People's Parties in Italy:*Italian People's Party , precursor of Christian Democracy*Italian People's Party , one of the successor parties of Christian Democracy...

 under Luigi Sturzo
Luigi Sturzo
Don Luigi Sturzo was an Italian Catholic priest and politician. Known in his lifetime as a "clerical socialist," Sturzo is considered one of the fathers of Christian democracy. Sturzo was one of the founders of the Partito Popolare Italiano in 1919, but was forced into exile in 1924 with the rise...

. Anti-Catholic politicians were gradually replaced by persons who were neutral or even sympathetic to the Catholic Church. The King of Italy himself gave signals of his desire for better relations, when for example, he sent personal condolences to the Pontiff on the death of his brother. The working conditions for Vatican staff greatly improved and feelers were extended on both sides to solve the Roman Question
Roman Question
thumb|300px|The breach of [[Porta Pia]], on the right, in a contemporaneous photograph.The Roman Question was a political dispute between the Italian Government and the Papacy from 1861 to 1929....

. Benedict XV strongly supported a solution and seemed to have had a fairly pragmatic view of the political and social situation in Italy at this time. Thus, while numerous traditional Catholics opposed voting rights for women, the Pope was in favour, arguing that, unlike the feminist protagonists, most women would vote conservative and thus support traditional Catholic positions.

France

Benedict attempted to improve relations with the anti-clerical Republican government of France. He canonised the French national heroine Saint Joan of Arc. In the mission territories of the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

, he emphasized the necessity of training native priests to quickly replace the European missionaries, and founded the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Studies and the Coptic College in the Vatican. In 1921, France re-established diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

Soviet Union

The end of the war caused the revolutionary development, which Benedict XV had foreseen in his first encyclical. With the Russian Revolution, the Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 was faced with a new, so far unknown, situation.

Lithuania and Estonia

The relations with Russia changed drastically for a second reason. The Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 and Poland gained their independence from Russia after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, thus enabling a relatively free Church life in those former Russian countries. Estonia was the first country to look for Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 ties. On 11 April 1919, Cardinal Secretary of State
Cardinal Secretary of State
The Cardinal Secretary of State—officially Secretary of State of His Holiness The Pope—presides over the Holy See, usually known as the "Vatican", Secretariat of State, which is the oldest and most important dicastery of the Roman Curia...

 Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri was a Roman Catholic archbishop, diplomat and politician in the Roman Curia and signatory of the Lateran Pacts.- Biography :...

 informed the Estonian authorities that the Vatican would agree to have diplomatic relations. A concordat
Concordat
A concordat is an agreement between the Holy See of the Catholic Church and a sovereign state on religious matters. Legally, they are international treaties. They often includes both recognition and privileges for the Catholic Church in a particular country...

 was agreed upon in principle a year later in June 1920. It was signed on 30 May 1922. It guaranteed freedom for the Catholic Church, established archdioceses, liberated clergy from military service, allowed the creation of seminaries and catholic schools and enshrined church property rights and immunity. The Archbishop swore alliance to Estonia.

Relations with Catholic Lithuania were slightly more complicated because of the Polish occupation
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

 of Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

, a city and archiepiscopal seat, which Lithuania claimed as its own. Polish forces had occupied Vilnius and committed acts of brutality
Brutality
Brutality or brutal may refer to:* Brutality , an American death metal band* Brutality , a 1912 film* Brutality , a finishing move in the video game Mortal Kombat* Brutalist architecture, an architectural style...

 in its Catholic seminary
Seminary
A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry...

 there. This generated several protests by Lithuania to the Holy See. Relations with the Holy See were defined during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI , born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from 6 February 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929 until his death on 10 February 1939...

 (1922–1939)

Poland

Before all other heads of State, Pope Benedict XV in October 1918 congratulated the Polish people on their independence. In a public letter to Archbishop Kakowski of Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

, he remembered their loyalty and the many efforts of the Holy See to assist them. He expressed his hopes that Poland would again take its place in the family of nations and continue its history as an educated Christian nation. In March 1919, he nominated 10 new bishops and, soon after, Achille Ratti as papal nuncio who was already in Warsaw as his representative. He repeatedly cautioned Polish authorities against persecuting Lithuanian and Ruthenian
Ruthenian Catholic Church
The Ruthenian Catholic Church is a sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church , which uses the Divine Liturgy of the Constantinopolitan Byzantine Eastern Rite. Its roots are among the Rusyns who lived in the region called Carpathian Ruthenia, in and around the Carpathian Mountains...

 clergy.
During the Bolshevik advance against Warsaw, he asked for worldwide public prayers for Poland. Nuncio
Nuncio
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin word, Nuntius, meaning "envoy." This article addresses this title as well as derived similar titles, all within the structure of the Roman Catholic Church...

 Ratti was the only foreign diplomat to stay in the Polish capital. On 11 June 1921, he wrote to the Polish episcopate, warning against political misuses of spiritual power, urging again for peaceful coexistence with neighbouring peoples, stating that “love of country has its limits in justice and obligations.” He sent nuncio Ratti to Silesia to act against potential political agitations of the Catholic clergy.

Ratti, a scholar, intended to work for Poland and build bridges to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, hoping even, to shed his blood for Russia. Pope Benedict XV needed him as a diplomat and not as a martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

 and forbade any trip into the USSR even though he was the official papal delegate to Russia. However, he continued his contacts with Russia. This did not generate much sympathy for him within Poland at the time. He was asked to go. “While he tried honestly to show himself as a friend of Poland, Warsaw forced his departure, after his neutrality in Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

n voting was questioned” by Germans and Poles. Nationalistic Germans objected to a Polish nuncio supervising elections, and Poles were upset because he curtailed agitating clergy. On 20 November, when German Cardinal Adolf Bertram announced a papal ban on all political activities of clergymen, calls for Ratti's expulsion climaxed in Warsaw. Two years later, Achille Ratti became Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI , born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from 6 February 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929 until his death on 10 February 1939...

, shaping Vatican policies towards Poland with Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri was a Roman Catholic archbishop, diplomat and politician in the Roman Curia and signatory of the Lateran Pacts.- Biography :...

 and Eugenio Pacelli for the following 36 years (1922–1958).

Church affairs

Theology

In internal Church affairs, Benedict XV reiterated Pius X's condemnation of "modernist" scholars
Modernism (Roman Catholicism)
Modernism refers to theological opinions expressed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but with influence reaching into the 21st century, which are characterized by a break with the past. Catholic modernists form an amorphous group. The term "modernist" appears in Pope Pius X's 1907...

 and the errors in modern philosophical systems in his first encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, and declined to readmit to full communion scholars who had been excommunicated during the previous pontificate. However, he claimed what he saw as the excesses of the anti-modernist campaign within the Church. On 25 July 1920 he wrote the motu proprio
Motu proprio
A motu proprio is a document issued by the Pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him....

 Bonum sane
Bonum sane
Bonum sane was a motu proprio on Saint Joseph written by Pope Benedict XV and delivered on July 25, 1920. The pope warned against world government:...

 on Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus Christ ....

 and against naturalism.

Canon law reform

In 1917 Benedict XV promulgated the Church's first Code of Canon Law, the preparation of which had been commissioned by Pope St. Pius X, and which is thus known as the Pio-Benedictine Code. This Code, which entered into force in 1918, was the first consolidation of the Church's Canon Law into a modern Code made up of simple articles. Previously, Canon Law was dispersed in a variety of sources and partial compilations. The new Canon Law is credited with reviving religious life and providing judicial clarity throughout the Church. In addition, continuing the concerns of Leo XIII, he furthered Eastern Catholic culture, theology and liturgy by founding an Oriental Institute for them in Rome.

Catholic missions

On 30 November 1919, Benedict XV appealed to all Catholics worldwide to sacrifice for Catholic missions, stating at the same time in Maximum Illud, that these missions should foster local culture and not import European cultures. The damages of such cultural imports were particularly grave in Africa and Asia, where many missionaries were deported and incarcerated if they happened to originate from a hostile nation.

Mariology

Pope Benedict was an ardent mariologist, devoted to Marian veneration and open to new theological perspectives. He personally addressed in numerous letters the pilgrims at Marian sanctuaries. He named Mary the Patron of Bavaria, and permitted, in Mexico, the Feast of the IC of Guadaloupe. To underline his support for the mediatrix
Mediatrix
Mediatrix in Roman Catholic Mariology refers to the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a mediator in the salvation process. It is a separate concept from Co-Redemptrix....

 theology, he authorised the Feast of Mary Mediator of all Graces. He condemned the misuse of Marian statues and pictures, dressed in priestly robes, which he outlawed 4 April 1916.

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Benedict placed the world under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic)
Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is based on Holy Scripture: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a virgin. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honour as Mother of God...

 and added the invocation Mary Queen of Peace to the Litany of Loreto. He promoted Marian veneration
Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic)
Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is based on Holy Scripture: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a virgin. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honour as Mother of God...

 throughout the world by elevating 20 well-known Marian shrines such as Ettal Abbey
Ettal Abbey
Ettal Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the village of Ettal close to Oberammergau and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. With a community of more than 50 monks, with another five at Wechselburg, the Abbey is one of the largest Benedictine houses and is a major attraction for...

 in Bavaria into Basilica Minors. He also promoted Marian devotions in May in the spirit of Grignon de Montfort The dogmatic constitution on the Church issued by the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 quotes the Marian theology of Benedict XV.

In his encyclical on Ephraim the Syrian he depicts Ephraim as a model of Marian devotion to our mother who uniquely was predestined by God. Pope Benedict did not issue a Marian encyclical but addressed the issue of Co-Redemptrix
Co-Redemptrix
Co-Redemptrix, a title of Mary, mother of Jesus, refers to her role in the Redemption process.The concept of Co-redemptrix refers to an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption, notably: that she gave free consent to give life to the Redeemer, to...

 in his Apostolic Letter, Inter Soldalica, issued 22 March 1918.
  • As the blessed Virgin Mary does not seem to participate in the public life of Jesus Christ, and then, suddenly appears at the stations of his cross, she is not there without divine intention. She suffers with her suffering and dying son, almost as if she would have died herself. For the salvation of mankind, she gave up her rights as the mother of her son and sacrificed him for the reconciliation of divine justice, as far as she was permitted to do. Therefore, one can say, she redeemed with Christ the human race.

Writings

During his seven-year pontificate, Benedict XV wrote a total of twelve encyclical
Encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

s.
In addition to the encyclicals mentioned, he issued In Hac Tanta on St. Boniface (14 May 1919), Paterno Iam Diu on the Children of Central Europe (24 November 1919), Pacem, Dei Munus Pulcherrimum on Peace and Christian Reconciliation (23 May 1920), Spiritus Paraclitus on St. Jerome (September 1920), Principi Apostolorum Petro on St. Ephram the Syrian (5 October 1920), Annus Iam Plenus also on Children in Central Europe (1 December 1920), Sacra Propediem on the Third Order of St. Francis (6 January 1921), In Praeclara Summorum on Dante (30 April 1921), and Fausto Appetente Die on St. Dominic (29 June 1921).

His Apostolic Exhortation
Apostolic exhortation
An apostolic exhortation is a type of communication from the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It encourages a community of people to undertake a particular activity, but does not define Church doctrine...

s include Ubi Primum (8 September 1914), Allorché fummo chiamati (28 July 1915) and Dès le début (1 August 1917) The Papal bulls of Benedict XV include Incruentum Altaris (10 August 1915), Providentissima Mater (27 May 1917) Sedis huius (14 May 1919), and Divina disponente (16 May 1920). Benedict XV issued nine Breve
Breve
A breve is a diacritical mark ˘, shaped like the bottom half of a circle. It resembles the caron , but is rounded, while the caron has a sharp tip...

s
during his pontificate: Divinum Praeceptum (December 1915), Romanorum Pontificum (February 1916), Cum Catholicae Ecclesiae (April 1916), Cum Biblia Sacra (August 1916), Cum Centesimus (October 1916), Centesimo Hodie (October 1916), Quod Ioannes (April 1917), In Africam quisnam (June 1920) and Quod nobis in condendo (September 1920).

Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum

Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum
Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum
Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum is a encyclical of Pope Benedict XV given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the Feast of All Saints on November 1, 1914, in the first year of his Pontificate...

is an encyclical
Encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

 of Benedict XV given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the Feast of All Saints on 1 November 1914, in the first year of his Pontificate. The first encyclical written by Pope Benedict XV coincided with the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, which he labelled The Suicide of Civilized Europe. Benedict described the combatants as the greatest and wealthiest nations of the earth; they are well provided with the most awful weapons modern military science has devised, they strive to destroy one another with refinements of horror. There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter; day by day the earth is drenched with newly shed blood, and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain.

In light of the senseless slaughter, the Pope pleads for "peace on earth to men of good will," (Luke 2:14), insisting that there are other ways and means whereby violated rights can be rectified.

The origin of the evil is a neglect of the precepts and practices of Christian wisdom, particularly a lack of love and compassion. Jesus Christ came down from Heaven for the very purpose of restoring among men the Kingdom of Peace, "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another." "This is my commandment that you love one another." Materialism
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

, nationalism, racism and class warfare
Class conflict
Class conflict is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people of different classes....

 are the characteristics of the age instead, so Benedict XV:
  • Race hatred has reached its climax; peoples are more divided by jealousies than by frontiers; within one and the same nation, within the same city there rages the burning envy of class against class; and amongst individuals it is self-love which is the supreme law over-ruling everything.

Humani Generis Redemptionem

The encyclical Humani Generis Redemptionem
Humani Generis Redemptionem
Humani generis redemptionem is a encyclical by Pope Benedict XV given at St. Peter's, Rome, on June 15 , on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the year 1917, in the third of his Pontificate. The encyclical points to an ever increasing number of Christian preachers and an ever decreasing...

from 15 June 1917, deals with blatant ineffectivenesss of Christian preaching. There are more preachers of the Word than ever before according to Benedict XV, but in the state of public and private morals, the constitutions and laws of nations, there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back into the shameful practices of paganism. The Pope squarely put part of the blame on those ministers of the Gospel who do not handle it as they should. It is not the times but the incompetent Christian preachers who are to blame: For no one can maintain that the Apostles were living in better times than ours, that they found minds more readily disposed towards the Gospel or that they met with less opposition to the law of God.
First in line are the Catholic bishops: The Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 taught, that preaching "is the paramount duty of Bishops." And the Apostles, whose successors the bishops are, looked upon it as something peculiarly theirs. St. Paul writes: "For Christ sent us not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. Council of Trent Bishops are required to select for this priestly office those only who are "fit," i.e. those who "can exercise the ministry of preaching with profit to souls." Profit to souls, does not mean eloquently or with popular applause, but with spiritual fruit. The Pope requests that all those priests are weeded out, who are incapable of preaching or of hearing confession. Priests have to concentrate on the word on God and not on popularity contests.

Quod Iam Diu

Quod Iam Diu
Quod Iam Diu
Quod Iam Diu was an encyclical of Pope Benedict XV, given at Rome at St. Peter's on December1, 1918, the fifth year of his Pontificate. It requests all Catholics everywhere in the world, no matter which side they were on, to pray for a lasting peace and for those who are entrusted to make it...

was an encyclical given at Rome at St. Peter's on 1 December 1918, the fifth year of his Pontificate. It requested after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 all Catholics everywhere in the world, no matter which side they were on, to pray for a lasting peace and for those who are entrusted to make it during the peace negotiations.

The Pope noted that true peace has not yet arrived but the Armistice has suspended the slaughter and devastation by land, sea and air. It is now the obligation of all Catholics on all sides to invoke Divine assistance for all who take part in the peace conference. The delegates who are to meet to define peace need all the support they can get for their search of a lasting peace.

Maximum Illud

Maximum Illud
Maximum Illud
Maximum Illud is an Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XV issued on November 30, 1919 ,in the sixth year of his pontificate. It deals with the Catholic missions after World War I....

is an apostolic letter of Benedict XV issued on 30 November 1919 in the sixth year of his pontificate. It deals with the Catholic missions after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.
Benedict XV recalled the great Apostles of the Gospel who contributed much to the Expansion of Missions. He reviewed the recent history of the missions and stated the purpose of the Apostolic letter. The encyclical first turned to the bishops and superiors in charge of the Catholic missions, noting the need to train local clergy. Catholic missionaries are reminded that their goal is a spiritual one, which must be carried out in a self-less way.

The Pope underlined the necessity of proper preparation for the work in foreign cultures and the need to acquire language skills before going there. He requests a continued striving for personal sanctity and praises the selfless work of female religious in the missions. Mission is not only for missionaries, all Catholics must participate, through their Apostolate of Prayer, by supporting vocations, and by helping financially The encyclical concludes by pointing out several organizations which organize and supervise mission activities within the Catholic Church.

Personality

In physical appearance, Benedict XV was a slight man (the smallest of the three cassocks which had been prepared for whoever the new Pope might be in 1914 was still a good deal too big for him). As a result, he became known as "Il Piccolito" or "The Little Man." He was renowned for his generosity, answering all pleas for help from poor Roman families with large cash gifts from his private revenues. When he was short on money, those who would be admitted to an audience would often be instructed by prelates not to mention their financial woes, as Benedict would inevitably feel bad that he could not help the needy. He also depleted the Vatican's official revenues with large-scale charitable expenditure during World War I. On his death, the Vatican Treasury had been depleted to the equivalent in lire of U.S. $19,000.

Benedict XV was a careful innovator by Vatican standards. He was known to carefully consider all novelties before he ordered their implementation, but then insisting on them to the fullest. He rejected clinging to the past for the past’s sake with the words, let us live in the present and not in history. His relation to secular Italian powers was reserved but positive, avoiding conflict and tacitly supporting the Royal Family of Italy. Yet, like Pius IX and Leo XIII, he also protested against interventions of State authorities in internal Church affairs. Della Chiesa and later Pope Benedict was not a man of letters. He did not publish educational or devotional books. His encyclicals are pragmatic and down-to-earth but intelligent and at times far-sighted. He remained neutral during the battles of the Great War, when almost everybody else was taking sides. Not unlike Pius XII during World War Two, his neutrality was doubted by all sides then and even now.

Benedict XV personally had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He added the title 'Queen of Peace' to her Litany, and gave his support to an understanding of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces (by approving a Mass and office under this title for the dioceses of Belgium) and affirmed that "together with Christ she redeemed the human race" by her immolation
Immolation
Immolation, from Latin immolare, "to sacrifice", originally "to sprinkle with sacrificial meal" , in modern English since the 16th century may refer to:* Fire sacrifice** Holocaust * Cremation...

of Christ as his sorrowful mother (in his apostolic letter Inter sodalicia).

Death and legacy

Benedict XV fell ill with pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 in early January 1922. He succumbed to that illness on 22 January 1922.

Possibly the least remembered pope of the twentieth century, Benedict XV is nevertheless an unsung hero for his valiant efforts to end World War I. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the significance of his long-ago predecessor's commitment to peace by taking the same name. Benedict XV was unique in his humane approach in the world of 1914–1918, which starkly contrasts with that of the other great monarchs and leaders of the time. His worth is reflected in the tribute engraved at the foot of the statue that the Turks
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

, a non-Catholic, non-Christian people, erected of him in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

: "The great Pope of the world tragedy...the benefactor of all people, irrespective of nationality or religion." This monument stands in the courtyard of the St. Esprit Cathedral
St. Esprit Cathedral, Istanbul
The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, alternatively known as the St. Esprit Cathedral, Italian: Cattedrale di Santo Spirito, or Cattedrale dello Spirito Santo, located on Cumhuriyet Avenue, 205/B, Harbiye, between Taksim Square and Nişantaşı, is one of the principal churches of the Catholic Church in...

.

Pius XII

Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 showed high regard for Benedict, who had consecrated him a Bishop on 13 May 1917, the very day of the reported apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fátima is a famous title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she appeared in apparitions reported by three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal. These occurred on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13...

. While Pius considered another Benedict, Benedict XIV in terms of his sanctity and scholarly contributions to be worthy as Doctor of the Church
Doctor of the Church
Doctor of the Church is a title given by a variety of Christian churches to individuals whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.-Catholic Church:In the Catholic Church, this name is given to a saint from whose...

, he thought that Benedict XV during his short pontificate was truly a man of God, who worked for peace. He helped prisoners of war and many others who needed help in dire times and was extremely generous to Russia. He praised him as a Marian Pope who promoted the devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes is the name used to refer to the Marian apparition said to have appeared before various individuals on separate occasions around Lourdes, France...

, for his encyclicals Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum
Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum
Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum is a encyclical of Pope Benedict XV given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the Feast of All Saints on November 1, 1914, in the first year of his Pontificate...

, Humani Generis Redemptionem
Humani Generis Redemptionem
Humani generis redemptionem is a encyclical by Pope Benedict XV given at St. Peter's, Rome, on June 15 , on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the year 1917, in the third of his Pontificate. The encyclical points to an ever increasing number of Christian preachers and an ever decreasing...

, Quod Iam Diu
Quod Iam Diu
Quod Iam Diu was an encyclical of Pope Benedict XV, given at Rome at St. Peter's on December1, 1918, the fifth year of his Pontificate. It requests all Catholics everywhere in the world, no matter which side they were on, to pray for a lasting peace and for those who are entrusted to make it...

, and Spiritus Paraclitus, and, for the codification of Canon Law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

, which under della Chiesa and Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri
Pietro Gasparri was a Roman Catholic archbishop, diplomat and politician in the Roman Curia and signatory of the Lateran Pacts.- Biography :...

, he as Eugenio Pacelli had the opportunity to participate in.

Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 showed his own admiration for Benedict XV following his election to the Papacy on 19 April 2005. The election of a new Pope is often accompanied by conjecture over his choice of papal name; it is widely believed that a Pope chooses the name of a predecessor whose teachings and legacy he wishes to continue. Ratzinger's choice of "Benedict" was seen as a signal that Benedict XV's views on humanitarian diplomacy, and his stance against relativism
Relativism
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration....

 and modernism
Modernism (Roman Catholicism)
Modernism refers to theological opinions expressed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but with influence reaching into the 21st century, which are characterized by a break with the past. Catholic modernists form an amorphous group. The term "modernist" appears in Pope Pius X's 1907...

, would be emulated during the reign of the new Pope.

During his first General Audience in St. Peter's Square on 27 April 2005, Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to Benedict XV when explaining his choice: "Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples."

Episcopal succession

See also


External links

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