740.0011 EW 1939/33293

The Apostolic Delegate at Washington (Cicognani) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Hull: In a radiogram which has just come to me and which is dated Sunday, February 13th, the Cardinal Secretary of State advises me that in an air raid which took place on Sunday morning several bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the Papal Villa at Castelgandolfo. One bomb fell just a few yards from the former Barberini Palace, now belonging to the Papal Villa, breaking all the windows in the building and causing other property damage.

His Eminence then adds that the announcements made by the British and American radios, in the name of the Allied High Command, on the alleged presence of German military personnel in this territory, cannot be said to refer to the actual territory of the Papal Villa, which enjoys the privilege of extraterritoriality. In his charity the Holy Father has permitted some thousands of unfortunate refugees from the civilian population of the surrounding country to take refuge in the grounds and buildings which make up the Villa. Several hundreds of these refugees had already been killed in previous aerial attacks.

In the light of the public assurances given by the President of the United States last summer in his letter to the Holy Father,7 the Holy See finds it difficult to understand how such incidents can be taking place.

With the sentiments of esteem and with every best wish I remain

Sincerely yours,

A. G. Cicognani

Archbishop of Laodicea
  1. See telegram 1621, July 10, 1943, 1 a.m., to Bern, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, p. 926.