Monument to Pope Pius XII
|Pope Pius XII (1939-58), who guided the Church during
the difficult days of World War II could not fail to be honored in the
Basilica he loved so dearly.
The Cardinales ab eo creati ordered a monument to him that was made by the famous artist Francesco Messina in 1964.
A high pedestal further augments the already tall figure of the pope who stands majestically in the robes of his authoritiy and spiritual power. His farreaching gaze extends to the horizon and imminent war. With his famous gesture, hand raised in blessing, he symbolically tries to stop the oncoming disaster.
His prophetic words to the heads of state before the outbreak of the war have become famous "Nothing is lost with peace, everything can be lost with war."
Opposite this monument is the one to his predecessor Pope Pius XI (1922-39), the pope of "dauntless faith", of the great social encyclicals, the pope of Catholic Action, of the missions, of the Eucharistic Congresses, of the University of the Sacred Heart. This pope, who could foresee the devasting con- sequences of totalitarian regimes, condemned their doctrines from the beginning. Pius XI was also the first Pope Sovereign of Vatican City, a title recongized by the Lateran Treaty (11 February 1929).
The monument was created by Francesco Nagni (1949).
Under the altar, between the two monuments in a crystal
casket are the remains of the Blessed Pope Innocent XI (1676-89). This
pope was highly respected for having encouraged morality in public life
and for having contri-
Above the altar is a mosaic by Pietro Paolo Cristofori (1738), a copy of Domenichino's (1581-1641) Martyrdom of St. Sebastian.