DFG project "Critical Online Edition of the Nuncial Reports of Eugenio Pacelli (1917-1929)"

Portrait Eugenio Pacelli
© Gemeinfrei

Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), is one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century. As Papal Nuncio in Germany from 1917 to 1929 and then as Cardinal Secretary of State until his election as Pope on 2 March 1939 he played a decisive role in determining Vatican politics. This is not usually taken into account sufficiently when contextualizing his “silence” on the Holocaust. Nevertheless, his twelve years in Germany may well have decisively shaped his personal networks, his patterns of perception and action, and thus also his approach towards the “Third Reich” as Pope.

Since February 2003 and September 2006, the Vatican Archives have made available the detailed reports that Pacelli, as the envoy of the Holy See to Munich and Berlin, sent to Rome day after day, sometimes even several times a day. During this time his nunciature developed into a hub of Vatican European and world politics. Pacelliʼs papers open up a new perspective on the development and role of the Catholic Church in the Weimar Republic, but also on the politics and everyday culture in Germany and Europe during those years. They represent the most important coherent collection of sources on German Catholicism during the Weimar period.

In cooperation with the Vatican Apostolic Archive (formerly the Vatican Secret Archive) and the German Historical Institute (DHI) in Rome, all of Pacelliʼs nuncial reports have been recorded, critically edited, commented on and evaluated, complete with the attachments. Thanks to the online edition, they are now available, with open access, to academics as well as the wider public.

The digital edition has also made it possible to clearly show the textual genesis of the drafts. The online database contains approximately 5,400 texts sent to Rome and about 5,200 drafts. In addition, about 4,200 directives sent to the nuncio by the various curial authorities have also been edited together with their attachments. The online database includes a total of almost 21,000 documents.

This twelve-year project was funded by the DFG. It began on 1 January 2008 and was successfully completed by 31 December 2019. However, work on the project will continue even after the actual term. In January 2022 the English homepage went online to make the edition more usable internationally.

Further information can be found and the online database accessed on the project homepage at www.pacelli-edition.de.