Who's Who - Pope Benedict XV

Pope Benedict XV Pope Benedict XV, formerly Giacomo della Chiesa, (1854-1922) was elected to the papacy on 3 September following the death of Pius X on 20 August, having served as a cardinal since May 1914.

A man with renowned diplomatic talents, Benedict found his abilities - and unique position as a religious emissary of peace - ignored by the belligerent powers.

Having unsuccessfully pushed the idea of a general Christmas truce in 1914 as an end to what he termed "the suicide of Europe" (initially accepted by the Germans but dismissed by the Allies), circumstances in Italy - where his regular intervention was resented as potentially weakening national fighting resolve - further diluted his influence from 1915 onwards.

In short, the 1915 Treaty of London included secret provisions whereby the Allies agreed with Italy to ignore papal peace moves towards the Central Powers.  Consequently, the publication of Benedict's proposed seven-point Peace Note of August 1917 was roundly ignored by all parties except Austria-Hungary.

Despite requesting a role in the definition of the peace the Vatican was excluded from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

A 'Toasting Fork' was a bayonet, often used for the named purpose.

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Who's Who