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Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, CBE, Righteous Among Nations
20th December 1925 – 30th October 1963
R.I.P.

Born in Ireland, a priest of the Holy Office and Vatican Diplomat. During World War II, he ran the network of Vatican spies, anti-fascists, and black marketeers sheltering and providing for escaped POW’s, Jews, and political dissidents. O’Flaherty’s network saved nearly 4,000 combatants and untold thousands of others.

Marked for extermination by the Gestapo, Msgr. O’Flaherty went about Rome in disguise, earning him the nickname “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican” in later years. In one celebrated instance, while being hunted by the Gestapo, he donned an SS officer’s uniform and boldly walked into the Nazi-controlled Regina Caeli Prison in order to hear the confession of a dying priest.

Rome Gestapo chief Col. Herbert Kappler sought to have Monsignor killed and engaged in relentless pursuit until the surrender of Rome. Kappler was tried in Italy for war crimes and sentenced to life in prison. Monsignor was his only visitor during those years, month after month. Kappler was received into the Catholic Church by baptism at the hands of O’Flaherty in 1959.

O’Flaherty was made a Commander of the British Empire, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and received various knighthoods, awards, and gongs for his work, all of which accepted gratefully, but sent to his sister in Ireland to be kept in a drawer. He was also awarded a life pension by the Republic of Italy, but refused to collect it, instead diverting the money for the assistance of the poor.

He was made the subject of several books, a radio play, and a movie, “The Scarlet and the Black” in which he was portrayed by Gregory Peck.

O’Flaherty Retired from the Holy Office in 1960 and lived with his sister in Ireland until his death. He was declared “Righteous Among Nations” by the State of Israel in 2003.

Eternal Memory!

WAC

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