Death of Pope Pius XII

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Main article: Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII had been seriously ill with gastritis intermittently since 1953, when he had offered to resign the papacy. He also underwent cellular rejuvenation treatment, whose side-effects caused hallucinations and nightmares. With frequent absences from work, he had come to depend heavily on a few close colleagues, especially his aide Domenico Tardini, his speechwriter Robert Leiber, and his long-serving housekeeper Pascalina Lehnert.

On 5 October 1958, at his summer residence Castel Gandolfo, the Pope suffered painful complications, but tried to continue his duties between intervals of rest. Next morning, the doctors came to pump his stomach, apparently with success, but he lost consciousness and was given the last rites. Presently he awoke, and the nuns opened the door to the Papal Chapel so he could see and hear them praying the rosary. The next day, he appeared to improve and received visitors. When they opened the window in the evening, he looked out at the stars and said quietly "Look, how beautiful, how great is our Lord.” On the last full day of his life, his temperature rose steadily and his breathing became difficult. At 3.52 a.m. on 9 October, he gave a smile, lowered his head and died. The cause of death was recorded as acute heart failure. Monsignor Domenico Tardini prayed the Magnificat Anima mea dominum, the Virgin Mary's praise of the Lord, in Latin.

For his embalming, the Pope had not wanted the vital organs removed, demanding that his body be kept in the same condition "in which God created it".[1] His physician Dr. Riccardo Galeazzi-Lisi claimed that he and an embalmer from Naples, Professor Nuzzi,[2] had used a new system with the same oils and resins with which the body of Jesus Christ had been preserved.[1] However, the weather was so hot that the body decomposed rapidly, and the public viewing had to be terminated.

His funeral procession into Rome was the largest congregation seen in the city up to that date. Pius XII was buried in the grottos beneath St. Peter's Basilica in a simple tomb in a small chapel.


  • Acta Apostolicae Sedis. (AAS), Vatican City 1939-1958. Official documents of the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII
  • Richard Cushing, Pope Pius XII, Boston, 1959
  • Robert Leiber, Papst Pius XII, Herbert Schambeck, in Pius XII, Butzon & Bercker, 1986,
  • Pascalina Lehnert, Ich durfte Ihm Dienen, Erinnerungen an Papst Pius XII. Naumann, Würzburg, 1986
  • Pio XII, Discorsi e Radio Messaggi di Sua Santita Pio XII, Vatican City 1939-1958,Official speeches of Pius XII, 20 vol.
  • Pio XII, Discorsi Ai Medici collected by Fiorenzo Angelini, Roma, 1959, 725 pages,
  • Soziale Summe Pius XII ed. A. F. Utz, J. F. Gröner, 4010 pages. in German, the non-theological teachings 1939-1958, III Vol.
  • Burkhard Schneider, Pio XII, Pace Opera della Guistizia, Edizione Paoline, 1974, German, Pius XII, Würzburg, 1974
  • Domenico Tardini, Pio XII, Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1960


  1. ^ a b "Pope's Body Embalmed with Special Process", Associated Press (AP), Rome, 11 October 1958
  2. ^ Quigley, Christine (1998). Modern Mummies. McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-7864-0492-6.