An account of the remarkable, controversial activities of the Bavarian-born nun, Sister Pascalina, who rose from obscurity to become confidante, nurse, and adviser to Pope Pius XII.
The inside story of Pope Pius XII, based on extensive interviews and writings of Sister Mary Pascalina, who started as his housekeeper when he was Papal Nuncio in Munich and carrying on through her years at the Vatican, where she was, in all but title, his confidential secretary and confidant. She was roundly hated by the Vatican bureaucracy for her unbending adherance to Pius's wishes, preventing him from being disturbed incessantly by those who loved to flout their position at the Vatican by their propensity to "drop in" on the Pope whenever they wished. All sorts of Vatican officials, including Cardinals, sought her ouster but Pius would have none of it. The Roman Curia of that day was very much male dominated and highly chauvinistic.
The book puts the lie once and for all to the notion that the Catholic Church abandoned Jews to Hitler during WWII. In fact, as the book reveals, the Papacy saved more Jews from the Germans than all other public and private relief agencies combined. Pius XII, a master of diplomacy, negotiated brilliantly with the Nazi commandant of the German occupation force to bring this about. At the same time he walked a treacherous tightrope between too harsh a condemnation of Hitler, which he knew would result in the massacre of all Catholic priests and nuns in Nazi occupied lands - witness the roughly 2,400 Catholic priests that were rounded up and exevuted the moment German forces entered Poland - and too lenient a position toward the Nazis, which would give them the impression they had a license to exterminate the Jews. Also revealed in this book is the shameful inaction of the Allies in sanctioning Hitler, despite Pius's repeated attempts to make them aware of what was happening in the death camps.
All in all it is a fascinating book. A bit of history that flies in the face of modern revisionism and definitely reveals the seedier side of the "good ol' boys" of the Vatican bureaucracy. It even contains perhaps the only (public) account of violatioins of the seal of the confessional by Sicilian clerics and the eventual disposition of the mater.
Highly recommended. A real poke in the eye for revisionists, bigots and racists - who have been screaming about it ever since it was published.