24 November 2014

General Curia named "House of Life"

In a ceremony conducted on Sunday, November 23, the Capuchin generalate was awarded the distinction of being a "House of Life" for its role in saving thousands of Jews from deportation to concentration camps during World War II. The plaque that was unveiled during the ceremony recalled the deeds of Father Marie Benoit, a French Capuchin who risked his life to save the Jews in Marseilles. When his activities there were discovered by the Gestapo, he was assigned to teach in the International College in Rome, where he intensified his activities.

Br. Mauro and Ms. Silvia Constantini unveiling the plaque
The honor was bestowed by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which is named for a Swedish diplomat who worked to save the Jews in Hungary during the same period. Ms. Silvia Constantini and Mr. Jesus Colina, both vice presidents of the Foundation were on hand for the ceremony. About a dozen associates of the Foundation, including other members of the Righteous among the Nations, also participated.

While several other sites in Rome and Italy will receive this recognition, the Capuchin generalate was the first to be identified for recognition. Unfortunately, the ceremony had to be postponed, first because of the renovations that were underway at the generalate and then due to scheduling conflicts.

The website of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has an explanation of the Houses of Life initiative and a page about the choice of the Capuchin generalate. A fair summary of Br. Marie Benoit's efforts can be found here on their site. I can also recommend the recently-published book, Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue: How a French Priest Together with Jewish Friends Saved Thousands during the Holocaust, by Susan Zuccotti. The book is generally well-researched, except when it deals with the attitudes of Marie Benoit's superiors and of the Holy See toward his work, where it veers into generalizations that are usually unsupported and sometimes contradicted by the

1 comment:

allthumbs said...

pax et bonum! :D
i remember you told me about him when you visited the Philippines some years back. this is happy news.

PS: i find your blog description utterly hilarious. :)