Some Thoughts on America and the Vatican by Mary Morgetuson

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One of the most fascinating aspects of the Vatican is the veil of secrecy behind which it operates. To most, the Vatican is the home of the Pope, but the rest is shrouded in mystery. America and the Vatican: Trading Information After World War II by Robert Illing is a fascinating read that allows the reader a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse inside the Vatican, with a particular focus on Vatican-American history.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Vatican is the veil of secrecy behind which it operates. To most, the Vatican is the home of the Pope, but the rest is shrouded in mystery. America and the Vatican: Trading Information After World War II by Robert Illing is a fascinating read that allows the reader a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse inside the Vatican, with a particular focus on Vatican-American history. For those who’ve thrilled at Dan Brown’s novels and the intrigue of the Vatican Secret Archives, this book will be a treasure. It promises to supplement your knowledge about major American figures that have figured into the relationship between Washington and the Vatican.

Robert Illing’s emphasis is on the various endeavors that were undertaken during the five years of the Lodge Mission. Essentially, the Lodge Mission, named after Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, was the diplomatic link between the Vatican and the American Department of State.

The book begins when Illing is appointed Foreign Service Officer and assigned to accompany Ambassador Lodge to Rome. As the charge d’affaires for the majority of his stint in Rome-Ambassador Lodge was in Rome only five to six weeks out of the year-Illing was given access to the sacred Vatican archives. Only through the archives does Illing realize the instrumental role played by prominent American figures with the Vatican. For example, Benjamin Franklin, in 1782, was the first diplomat to the “Holy See.”

Officially, U.S. relations with the Vatican began in 1797, as a result of the work of Giovanni Battista Sartori. Illing states, “The initiative for this step was not taken by the U.S. Government but by Giovanni Battista Sartori, a Roman citizen, who wrote to Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finances in the American Revolution, offering his services as consul in Rome.”

Illing states that the Lodge Mission, established after World War II, was an important part of the Vatican-American chapter, and needs to be recognized as such-hence the production of his book.

Overall, America and the Vatican: Trading Information After World War II is a riveting read that presents the facts from a first-hand perspective. Robert Illing, in his association with the Lodge Mission, has had the fortune to gain access to the Vatican Secret Archives and absorb the awe and wonder that is the Vatican. Through his book, Illing aims to enlighten readers regarding Vatican-American history and communications.

Though one may think that the discussion of politics and foreign affairs could make the book difficult to read, this is not the case. Robert Illing’s writing style purposefully caters to the scores of Vatican enthusiasts in this easy-to-read book. Indeed, these pages reveal copious information on the nature of the Vatican’s investment portfolios, foreign relations, and its stand on the war on drugs-it will leave you saying, “Wow.”


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