Angelo Rotta

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Angelo Rotta
Titular Archbishop of Thebae
Apostolic Nuncio
Ordination10 February 1995
Consecration1 November 1922
by Pietro Gasparri
Personal details
Birth nameAngelo Rotta
Born(1872-08-09)August 9, 1872
Milan, Italy
DiedFebruary 1, 1965(1965-02-01) (aged 92)
Vatican, Italy
OccupationCatholic prelate and diplomat
Previous post
  • Apostolic Internuncio to Central America (1922–1923)
  • Apostolic Internuncio to Panama (1923–1825)
  • Apostolic Delegate to Turkey
  • (1925–1930)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Hungary (1930–1945)
Angelo Rotta commemorative plaque in Budapest District I, Dísz Square No 4–5.

Angelo Rotta (9 August 1872 – 1 February 1965), originally from Milan, Italy, was the Apostolic Papal Nuncio in Budapest at the end of World War II. He was involved in the rescue of the Jews of Budapest from the Nazi Holocaust, and is a significant figure in Catholic resistance to Nazism.

Early years[edit]

Rotta was born in Milan, Italy, on 9 August 1872. He was ordained a priest on 10 February 1895.

On 12 October 1922, Pope Pius XI named him titular archbishop of Thebes and Apostolic Internuncio to Central America.[1] He received his episcopal consecration from Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, the Vatican Secretary of State, on 1 November 1822.[citation needed] He was named Apostolic Internuncio to Panama on 21 September 1923[2] even as his responsibilities toward other countries in Central America continued. On 9 May 1925, Pope Pius appointed him Apostolic Delegate to Turkey.[3]

During his diplomatic service in Bulgaria, he saved many Bulgarian Jews by issuing them baptismal certificates and safe conducts for the trip to Palestine.

Nuncio to Hungary[edit]

On 19 February 1930, Pope Pius named him Apostolic Nuncio to Hungary, a position he held for fifteen years.

As Papal Nuncio representing Pope Pius XII in Hungary, Rotta actively protested Hungary's mistreatment of the Jews, and helped persuade Pope Pius XII to lobby the Hungarian leader Admiral Horthy to stop their deportation.[4] According to historian of the Holocaust Martin Gilbert, "With Arrow Cross members killing Jews in the streets of Budapest, Angelo Rotta, the senior Vatican representative in Budapest, took a lead in establishing an "International Ghetto", consisting of several dozen modern apartment buildings to which large numbers of Jews - eventually 25,000 - were brought and to which the Swiss, Swedish, Portuguese, and Spanish legations, as well as the Vatican, affixed their emblems."[5]

Rotta also got permission from the Vatican to begin issuing protective passes to Jewish converts - and was eventually able to distribute more than 15,000 such protective passes, while instructing the drafters of the documents not to examine the recipients' credentials too closely.[6] A Red Cross official asked Rotta for pre-signed blank identity papers, to offer to the sick and needy fleeing the Arrow Cross, and was given the documents with Rotta's blessing.[7] Rotta encouraged Hungarian church leaders to help their "Jewish brothers", and directed Fr Tibor Baranszky to go to the forced marches and distribute letters of immunity to as many Jews as he could.[6]

In 1944 - 1945 Rotta contributed greatly to the saving action of the Neutral Powers (Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Vatican) and the International Red Cross Committee in Budapest (initiated by Carl Lutz, and led, among others, by Giorgio Perlasca, Friedrich Born, Raoul Wallenberg, Angel Sanz Briz). As the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, he vehemently protested several times to the Hungarian Governments against the Jewish Deportations.

On 15 November 1944, the Hungarian Government established the "Big Ghetto" for 69,000 Jews, while a further 30,000 with protective documents went to the International Ghetto.[6] On 19 November 1944, the Vatican joined the four other neutral powers - Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland - in a further collective protest to the Hungarian Government calling for the suspension of deportations of the Jews.[7] The government complied, and banned the "death marches" - but Budapest was by that stage near anarchy, and deportations continued from 21 November. The Arrow Cross continued their orgy of violence, raiding the international Ghetto and murdering Jews, as Soviet forces approached the city. Rotta and Wallenberg were among the few diplomats to remain in Budapest. Following the Soviet conquest of the city, Wallenberg was seized by the Russians and taken to Moscow, from where he was never released. Gilbert wrote that of the hundred and fifty thousand Jews who had been in Budapest when the Germans arrived in March 1944, almost 120,000 survived to liberation - 69,000 from the Big Ghetto, 25,000 in the International Ghetto and a further 25,000 hiding out in Christian homes and religious institutes across the city.[8]


Rotta retired from diplomacy in 1957.

Pope Paul VI paid him a surprise visit at his Vatican residence on Easter Sunday in March 1964.[9]

He was recognized as Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1997.[10]


  1. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). XIV. 1922. pp. 551, 563. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  2. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). XV. 1923. p. 528. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  3. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). XVII. 1925. p. 332. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Raoul Wallenberg - Diplomats". Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  5. ^ Martin Gilbert; The Righteous - The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 0385 60100X; p. 337
  6. ^ a b c Martin Gilbert; The Righteous - The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 0385 60100X; p. 341
  7. ^ a b Martin Gilbert; The Righteous - The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 0385 60100X; p. 344
  8. ^ Martin Gilbert; The Righteous - The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 0385 60100X; pp. 347–350
  9. ^ "Pope Bids Atheists Turn to Religion For a Goal in Life". New York Times. 30 March 1964. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  10. ^ "The Righteous Among The Nations – Rotta Angelo (1872 - 1965)". Yad Vashem. Archived from the original on 2019-01-30. Retrieved 8 November 2017.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano
Titular archbishop of Thebes
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Marenco
Apostolic Internuncio to Central America
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Fietta
Preceded by
Ernesto Eugenio Filippi
Apostolic Delegate to Turkey
Succeeded by
Carlo Margotti
Preceded by
Cesare Orsenigo
Apostolic Nuncio to Hungary
Title next held by
Angelo Acerbi