The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center posthumously recognized two French clergy members who lived in Rome as Righteous Among the Nations Oct. 21.
The recognition is the highest honor given by the center to those who risked their lives to rescue Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
A ceremony honoring Cardinal Eugène Tisserant and Msgr. André Bouquin, as well as French diplomat Francois De Vial, will be held at a later date.
Tisserant, who during the period of World War II served as secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Eastern Churches and president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, first defied the Fascist racial laws against the Jews in 1939. He awarded Guido Mendes, who had been fired as head of the Jewish hospital in Rome because he was a Jew, a medal from the Vatican congregation. Tisserant then worked to obtain immigration certificates for the Mendes family.
Tisserant continued his opposition of the Fascist and Nazi regimes, rescuing numerous Jewish individuals and families from Nazi death camps with the assistance of other church clergy. In coordination with Cardinal Luigi Maglione, then Vatican secretary of state, he worked to obtain a Brazilian visa for Rabbi Nathan Cassuto. In another instance, he hid Italian-Jewish businessman Cesare Verona and the Letzt family in his own home. He also arranged for Verona’s daughter to be hidden in a monastery in the Vatican.
In a postwar letter, Verona thanked the cardinal, noting that his assistance “came from heaven.”
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