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Throwback Thursday: Death of a Pope

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The Oct. 17, 1958 edition of The Catholic Telegraph-Register included coverage of the Oct. 9 death of Pope Pius XII. (CT File)
The Oct. 17, 1958 edition of The Catholic Telegraph-Register included coverage of the Oct. 9 death of Pope Pius XII. (CT File)

Staff Report

This Throwback Thursday is another somber one as it was 56 years ago today that venerable Pope Pius XII died in Rome, just days after suffering a stroke.

Reports from the Oct. 17, 1958 edition of The Catholic Telegraph-Register shows former Cincinnati Reds stadium Crosley Field being used as a church for a solemn requiem Mass for the Pope. It adds that a similar Mass took place in Dayton’s UD Stadium.

Oct. 10, 1958 brief detailed the life-threatening stroke suffered by Pope Pius XII. He had died Oct. 9, but the paper had likely already passed its print deadline. (CT File)

Archbishop Karl J. Alter celebrated the Cincinnati Mass and Bishop Paul F. Leibold celebrated in Dayton. See the full-sized photo from the Crosley Field Mass below.

The celebrations of the Solemn Pontifical Requiem Masses replaced the usually festive Holy Name rallies that took place near those dates, but were co-opted by the death of Pope Pius XII.

The previous week’s edition of The Catholic Telegraph, (below, right) was actually published Oct. 10, one day after the pontiff’s death, but the paper had already been sent to press. Readers of that issue were informed in a brief about the Holy Father’s stroke, and that his life hung in the balance.

Also in the Oct. 17 edition, Archbishop Alter wrote a statement on Pope Pius XII’s death. The beginning of this statement is seen bottom right of the above photo.

“The whole word is saddened at the death of Pius XII,” he wrote. “No other historical figure of this generation has so vitally influenced the world for good.”

Pope Pius XII is sometimes seen as a controversial historical figure, but he was declared “venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI on Dec. 19, 2009. A declaration that a person is “venerable” means the church certifies they lived lived a life of “heroic virtue.”

The Catholic Herald, a british newspaper covering Catholic events, reported that former pontiff’s cause for canonization has stalled pending a lack of miracles. Its report cited comments from Pope Francis on his return trip from the Holy Land in May.

Scanned image: Holy Name Rallies Honor Memory of Pontiff - Spirited Parades Turned to Public Mourning: Ballpark became a church in Cincinnati last Sunday when a Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass for Pope Pius XII was celebrated at Crosley Field. Here, the altar, erected in the center of the field, is surrounded by seminarians, left, and members of the color corps of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, right. A line of marchers enters the field in the foreground. (See related story, The Catholic Telegraph-Register, October 17, 1958)

Welcome to The Catholic Telegraph’s edition of Throwback Thursday. Throwback Thursday is a weekly online activity wherein users of social media share an old photo or anecdote about times gone by. We plan to use Throwback Thursday to highlight the history of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and our publication.

Previous Throwback Thursdays
Guardian Angels artist was spot on
Catholic prep football in the CT

Archbishop Bernadin makes the Tribune

Sept. 11, 2001
Computers all the rage in 1983
English permitted in some rituals

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