Saturday, March 04, 2006

75 Years of Vatican Radio


Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Vatican Radio station and delivered his live address. Read more about it here or listen here.

The Beginning of the Idea

To speak about the birth of Vatican Radio and the twelfth of February, 1931, is easy enough. However, it's more difficult to portray the ambience, the atmosphere, and the sense of excitment that permeated that momentous occasion.

Guglielmo Marconi, the great scientist who had for years been celebrated in the world's newspapers, approached the 12th of February with fear; in fact he was almost trembling as he realized the import of the endeavor he was about to undertake for the Supreme Pontiff. Upon the arrival of His Holiness Pope Pius XI, Mr. Marconi genuflected and humbly kissed the ring of the Successor of Peter. Pope Pius nodded paternally, smiled, and placed his hand on Marconi's shoulder in a manner which was almost an embrace. One could continue to explain the beginning moments of Vatican Radio in this manner, but the moment is better conveyed through the exact words of those present on that splendid day sixty-five years ago on the Vatican Hill.

On February 12, 1931, the Marquis Marconi spoke these historical words:
I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing.

The Founding of Vatican Radio.

Photo of Guglielmo Marconi with Pope Pius XI, 1931 from Radio Marconi

[Update] Pope's Address on Vatican Radio

A "Great Family Which Has No Borders"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2006 ( - Here is a translation of the extemporaneous address Benedict XVI gave today on Vatican Radio on the occasion of the broadcasting station's 75th anniversary. * * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

My heartfelt greetings to all men and women, listeners of Vatican Radio, to whom I wish the peace and joy of the Lord. It is a great joy for me to be here. We are conscious that 75 years ago, Pope Pius XI inaugurated Vatican Radio, thus giving a voice to the Holy See, beyond that, to the Church and to the Lord -- a voice with which to truly apply the Lord's commandment: "Proclaim the Gospel to all creatures to the ends of the earth."

Meanwhile, as I am seeing, in these 75 years the technology has been very much perfected. Today the voice of Vatican Radio can reach all parts of the world, and many homes and -- as has been emphasized -- there is also a beautiful reciprocity, not only in speaking about, but also in receiving answers, in an authentic dialogue to understand, respond to and build the family of God.

It seems to me that this is the meaning of a means of communication such as this one: To help build this great family which has no borders, in which all feel themselves brothers and sisters in the multiplicity of cultures and languages, and in this way represent a force for peace. I would like to hope that all those who are listening to me at this moment may feel really involved in this great dialogue of truth. In the media world, as we know, there is no lack of opposing voices.

It is, therefore, particularly important that this voice exist, which really wishes to be at the service of truth, of Christ, and in this way, at the service of peace and reconciliation in the world. I wish that those working here may be effective instruments of this great work of peace of the Lord. I thank you for everything you do, day after day, and also perhaps, night after night. I wish that the listeners may also be involved in this great dialogue, and become in turn witnesses of truth, and a force of peace in the world.


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