This Zucchetto, Skullcap, Kippah, Yarmulke, whatever you want to call it, belonged to Pope Pius XII. It was provided to certain people after a private audience with his Holiness way back in the day, before I was born. That’s them in the picture, and if you can read the document above, there are wonderful best wishes for them from the Venerable Successor of Peter. Its sewn to the backing of a professionally constructed shadow box (with its cloth container) obviously for display in a church or museum. These days, no one gives a hoot, and it was rescued from the outgoing trash by great young man and given to yours truly. [And, no, I didn’t take it out to put it on, yet, anyway!]
The Venerable Pope Pius XII is very much venerated by this Catholic priest for very many things:
- In the scene above, Pius raises his arms to the heavens in prayer against the bombing of Rome while the bombs were falling around him and the crowd. Immediately behind him is the ancient Basilica of Saint Lawrence (fuori le mura), whose roof was destroyed by the bombs. No coward, he.
- Pius saved more Jews during the onslaught of the Nazis that all others in the world put together. He was praised for this by all Jews and Jewish groups around the world until someone some hateful idiot called him Hitler’s Pope. Then all of Judaism turned against him, saying he didn’t speak up. With the opening of the archives, what we’re finding is that all that he did behind the scenes also in his quiet maneuverings were consistent with saving the Jews. Always. Knee-jerk reaction haters, instead, emotionally say he should have been shrieking from the loggia of Saint Peters. But I know someone whose idiot father did this in a small town on the French-German border, just yelling and screaming about it until nightfall, doing nothing to help the Jews escape, but only condemning the Nazis. He had been told that morning if he didn’t complain the non-Jews would survive. The Nazis returned that evening and killed everyone. Pius XII knew exactly what he was doing, and saved Jews. I love that.
- Pius XII wrote a great deal about the Mystical Body of Christ, which I read as a teenager, and it changed my life. He wrote Humani generis, which sealed me fighting the good fight. On and on, but…
- What I most like about Pius XII is that that after consulting my fellow biblical “scholars” about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Body and Soul, into heaven, in 1948, even after getting terribly mocked by them, he forged ahead, rightly, and infallibly pronounced on the doctrine of the Assumption in 1950, that this truth, always believed in by the Church, is present in Sacred Revelation. This was extremely encouraging to me in my own studies on Genesis 3:15. The politics surrounding these chapters in Genesis are about enough to scare anyone to death. Pius XII is my hero whose example I strive to follow in my own unrepeatable circumstance of the Lord’s providence.
Perhaps just my imagination, but reception of this “relic” if we can call it that at this point in time, was like a visit from heaven, a personal visit, from this dear Successor of Saint Peter.