Canisius Presents Lecture on Secret History of Pope Pius XI and Mussolini

BUFFALO, NY – The Canisius College Art History Program presents “The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe,” a lecture by David I. Kertzer, PhD, on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. in the Regis Room North of the Richard E. Winter ’42 Student Center. The event, which will include a book signing and question and answer period, is free and open to the public.

A National Book Award finalist, Kertzer will discuss his latest book, The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Random House: 2014). Using an unmatched wealth of newly available archival materials from the Vatican, the book tells the dramatic story of the secret relation of these two men who came to power in Rome in 1922: Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI. Based on seven years of research in the Vatican and Fascist archives, including reports from Mussolini’s spies inside the highest levels of the Church, the book forever changes the understanding of the Vatican’s role in the rise of fascism in Europe.

Kertzer is the Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science at Brown University, where he is also professor of anthropology and Italian studies. He previously served as the provost of Brown University and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. His book The Kidnapping of Edgard Mortara (Knopf/Vintage) was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997, and Kertzer has twice received the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best work on Italian (1985, 1990). His 2001 book, The Popes Against The Jews (Knopf/Vintage), a look at the Vatican’s role in the rise of modern anti- semitism, has been published in nine languages. Kertzer is an authority on Italian politics, society and history, political symbolism and anthropological demography. He is co-founder and served for many years as co-editor of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. Kertzer appeared on air as the primary expert for episode four of The Secret Files of the Inquisition, which aired on PBS in May 2007 and was recently a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air.

“The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe” is co-sponsored by the Fitzpatrick Institute of Public Affairs and Leadership, the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the History Department, the Institute for the Global Study of Religion and the Core Curriculum Committee. Copies of The Pope and Mussolini: the Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe will be available for sale courtesy of Talking Leaves Books. For more information, contact Claire L. Kovacs, PhD, assistant professor of art history, at (716) 888-2531 or via e-mail at

Canisius College is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.