JERUSALEM (CNS) — The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center posthumously recognized two French clergy members who lived in Rome as Righteous Among the Nations Oct. 21.
The recognition is the highest honor given by the center to those who risked their lives to rescue Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
A ceremony honoring Cardinal Eugène Tisserant and Msgr. André Bouquin, as well as French diplomat Francois De Vial, will be held at a later date.
Cardinal Tisserant, who during the period of World War II served as secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Eastern Churches and president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, first defied the Nazi racial laws against the Jews in 1939. He awarded Guido Mendes, who had been fired as head of the Jewish hospital in Rome because he was a Jew, a medal from the Vatican congregation. Cardinal Tisserant then worked to obtain immigration certificates for the Mendes family.
Cardinal Tisserant continued his opposition of the Nazi regime, rescuing numerous Jewish individuals and families from Nazi death camps with the assistance of other church clergy. In coordination with Cardinal Luigi Maglione, then Vatican secretary of state, he worked to obtain a Brazilian visa for Rabbi Nathan Cassuto. In another instance, he hid Italian-Jewish businessman Cesare Verona and the Letzt family in his own home. He also arranged for Verona’s daughter to be hidden in a monastery in the Vatican.
In a postwar letter, Verona thanked the cardinal, noting that his assistance “came from heaven.”
The cardinal also used his car to smuggle a Jewish teenager, Miron Lerner — who had been placed in the temporary care of the secretary of the French representative to the Vatican — to a small monastery in the Vatican. A month later, Cardinal Tisserant took Lerner to another convent near a French church in Rome. The rector, Msgr. Bouquin, sheltered the teen until the liberation of Rome in the summer of 1944.
In 1998, Lerner wrote of the heroic acts of Cardinal Tisserant and how he saved the lives of many Jews, including himself, during the Holocaust.
Since its establishment in 1953, Yad Vashem has recognized some 28,000 individuals from more than 50 countries as Righteous Among the Nations and, according to the center, “the number continues to grow significantly” despite the aging of Holocaust survivors.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103