Pope Pius XII

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The Venerable Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (March 2, 1876 in Rome, Italy - October 9, 1958 in Castel Gandolfo, Italy), served as the Pope from March 2, 1939 to 1958. Pacelli, who was of noble birth, was a grandson of Marcantonio Pacelli, founder of the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, a nephew of Ernesto Pacelli, a key financial advisor to Pope Leo XII, and a son of Filippo Pacelli, dean of the Vatican lawyers. His brother, Francesco Pacelli, became a highly regarded attorney, and was created a marchese by Pius XII. Pacelli became a Roman Catholic priest in April, 1899. From 1904 until 1916 Fr. Pacelli assisted Cardinal Gasparri in his codification of canon law. Fr. Pacelli was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Bavaria by Pope Benedict XV in 1917, and Apostolic Nuncio to the German Weimar Republic in June, 1920. Pacelli was created a cardinal on 16 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

Within a few months, on 7 February 1930 Pope Pius appointed Pacelli Papal Secretary of State. During the 1930s Cardinal Pacelli arranged important concordats with Bavaria, Prussia, Austria and Germany. He also made many diplomatic visits throughout Europe and the Americas, including an extensive visit to the United States in 1936.

During his pontificate, Pius XII canonized eight saints, including Pope Pius X, and beatified five people. He consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942. In 1950, Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. This doctrine teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken into heaven body and soul after the end of her earthly life. This belief had been held by Catholic and Orthodox Christians since the early centuries of the church (for example, by St. Gregory of Tours),