ORNATE HAND-ILLUMINATED PAPAL BENEDICTION SIGNED BY POPE PIUS XI
PIUS XI (1857-1939) [Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti]. Pope (1922-1939). Ornate Document, Boldly Signed, “Pius P.P. XI,” as Pope, being a petition in Italian for a Plenary Indulgence ‘In Articulo Mortis’ for Plinia Calvo, herself and her family. One page, tall quarto. [approximately 6 ½ X 12 ¾ inches]. Rome, no date, circa 1930. Ornate black and white photograph of the Pope giving a blessing at top center. Illuminated borders printed in gold and color by Gualassini of Milan. Embossed papal seal at lower left. The wording of the petition is accomplished in a calligraphic hand and heightened in gold. The photograph, in a roundel, reproduces the central part of a full length photograph of Pius by Felici of Milan.
[Translation reads:] Most Blessed Father — Plinia Calvo–and all members of her fanilly, humbly prostrate at Your Holiness’ feet, implore the Apostolic Blessing and Plenary Indulgence in the Hour of Death, when also, if unable to make confession or receive Holy Communion, repenting by word of mouth or with the heart, they shall invoke the Most Holy Name of Jesus. (Signed) Pius XI, Pope
Pius’ first act as Pope was the now traditional blessing from the Vatican balcony. It replaced what all previous Popes since 1870 had done, and this blessing was to protest against the Italian State’s dominance. Achieved under Pius XI is due the Concordat of 1929 which established the Vatican City State and brought to an end 70 years of confrontation. Pius made many saints including Teresa of Lisieu, and Bernadette of Lourdes. He had many interests including climbing the Matterhorn in 1889, and was director of the Ambrosian library in Milan and Prefect of the Vatican library before his election as Pope.