“A Polish psychiatrist was next to John Paul II in agony” – Corriere.it

from Stefano Lorenzetto

Journalist Bndicte Lutaud, of Le Figaro as the author of the first interview with a pontiff: the women of the Popes, nurses and friends obscured in the Vatican

Cherchez la femme! fate that it is always the French journalists who intersect the lives of the popes. This has been going on since the time of Leo XIII, the first in history to grant an interview. It came out on August 4, 1892 on Le Figaro
with the signature of Sverine, pseudonym of Caroline Rmy: on July 31, a Sunday, she had been in conversation with him for 70 minutes. As it happens, he works at Figaro also Bndicte Lutaud, recently in bookstores with The women of the popes
(Guerini and associates), a 280-page essay in which he reconstructs the story of five female figures who have had important roles in the Vatican over the last 90 years. Like Pascalina Lehnert, the German nun nicknamed the pope, secretary, housekeeper and nurse of Pius XII: in one of the 20 photos secretly taken by the pontifical archiatrist Riccardo Galeazzi Lisi, and then sold to Paris Match, you can see her, the German nun who was Eugenio Pacelli’s assistant from 1917 and accompanied him until his death, sitting next to the bed of the august sick man in agony, while she shoves the cannula of the oxygen cylinder into his mouth. Daughter of Christian Lutaud, an agnostic former professor of literature at the Sorbonne, the journalist, 33, was educated in Catholicism by her mother Elisabeth, a speech therapist. He distanced himself from the Church during his masters in journalism at Sciences Po, the Parisian institute of political studies. He got closer in 2014. There was a void of meaning in my life. I tried to fill it with yoga, but fled embarrassed by the lessons when they imposed a religious chant that mixed Buddha, Indian gods and Jesus. He has a son born last year. He was baptized by Timothe, the one who honors God, as the martyr of Ephesus converted by St. Paul.

Strange, his reconnaissance of the women of the popes begins from a tomb.

S, from the Teutonic Cemetery in the Vatican. There is a modest stele, with an epitaph in red letters: “Leben ist Liebe”, life love. In a nutshell, a name, Hermine Speier, the dates of birth and death, 1898 and 1989, and just one other word in German: “Archologin”.

Archaeologist.

She was a woman, she was a foreigner, she was Jewish rather than Catholic. Yet it was the first hired in the Vatican. The honor of burying her there, although she died in Montreux, Switzerland, has rare precedents. When Rosa, Maria and Anna Sarto, the three unmarried sisters who lived with Pius X, expressed the desire to end up in the Teutonic Cemetery to be closer to the Vatican Grottoes where he was to be buried, he replied in dialect: “Tose, xe mejo che e with your sea “. In fact they were buried in Riese, next to their mother. Nello Vian, son of a confidant of the Venetian pope, tells it in the book Hail for an old priest.

What’s special about Speier’s story?

He worked at the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. When Adolf Hitler came to power, his fate was sealed. His superior, Ludwig Curtius, asked for help from his friend Bartolomeo Nogara, director of the Vatican Museums. Who talked about it with Pius XI, who from that moment protected it. And so did the successor, Pius XII.

The archaeologist knew how to repay.

And how. He organized the photographic archives of the Apostolic Library. And he found in the cellars the head of one of the twelve horses that adorned the pediments of the Parthenon in Athens, lost for centuries.

How did Sister Pascalina Lehnert earn the title of pope?

Eugenio Pacelli, nuncio to Munich, met her in 1917, when she was 23 years old. She was haughty and handsome. He was impressed. The following year he recruited her as his housekeeper. She immediately showed that she knew how to do it, defending the future pope from two Spartacus Bolsheviks who, guns in hand, had broken into the nunciature. In 1920 Pacelli lost his mother, to whom he was very attached. Detained in Germany, he was unable to attend the funeral. He fell into depression. It was she, the nurse Pascalina, who pulled it out.

More mother than sister.

Promoted nuncio to Berlin, he brought her with s. With a martial attitude, she lined up an assistant, a butler, a waiter, a cook, a chauffeur and two sisters dedicated to housework. Until the oldest placed an ultimatum: “Monsignor, either you or us!”. Pacelli chose her. Appointed Vatican secretary of state, he brought her with him to Italy.

Where she became the first and only woman in conclave in the history of the Church.

That of 1939, from which Pacelli came out with the name of Pius XII. For herextra omnes
it was not worth it: he had to give the medicines to the cardinal secretary of state.

Caroline Pigozzi, Vaticanist of Paris Match, in a recent article hypothesized that there was something tender between the two.

I do not believe it. Just as I don’t believe in the story of the “intimate relationship” between the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, and Laetitia Calmeyn. They are gossip. We are talking about an esteemed Belgian theologian, a consecrated virgin. His life was no secret to anyone.

So why did Aupetit resign?

Politics has something to do with it, not the skirt. He had made many enemies on multiple dossiers, discontenting left and right with his rough ways, certainly no more rough than those that Pope Francis sometimes demonstrates. Many had become jealous of Calmeyn’s influence over the prelate as his faithful advisor.

Remember the relationship between Karol Wojtyła and the Polish psychiatrist Wanda Płtawska.

Of the five women I investigated, she, now a centennial, is the most interesting. A story of friendship that lasted more than 50 years, theirs. He was in John Paul II’s room at the Gemelli Polyclinic after the 1981 attack. He was next to him in the Vatican to check every drug and to prescribe natural remedies during the 143 days of his convalescence, much to the scandal of the cardinals, furious because a stranger was walking in slippers in the Apostolic Palace. He was certainly at his bedside when the Pope died, but his name was struck from the official communiqué of the Holy See. Nothing new: the same fate had befallen Sister Pascalina Lehnert and Sister Vincenza Taffarel, the governess and nurse of John Paul I. In the acts on the death of Pope Luciani only the secretary Don Diego Lorenzi and other male figures are mentioned.

Wojtyła was Płtawska’s confessor.

He was the first to understand the tragedy of this woman of the Polish Resistance, deported 19 years old to Ravensbrck. For five years, Nazi doctors used her as a guinea pig in pseudoscientific experiments, eventually causing permanent damage to her leg. Her choice to devote herself to psychiatry and the defense of life stems from the horrors seen in the concentration camp, which have tormented her ever since: babies just given birth by inmates thrown still alive in the crematorium ovens. On November 22, 1962, Płtawska was ready to undergo bowel surgery for the removal of a cancer. From evening to morning the tumor disappeared by a miracle. His friend Karol had written to Padre Pio, begging him to save that young mother of four children.

The last three popes, although foreign, have focused on Italian women.

The most powerful was mother Tekla Famiglietti, an Irpinia who was abbess general of the Brigidine nuns for 37 years. The best ally of John Paul II in the diplomatic field. He stole Fidel Castro’s permission to open a convent in Havana and made possible the historic visit of the Polish Pope to Cuba in 1988. Instead, Benedict XVI entrusted the task of founding and directing World Church Women, monthly supplement ofRoman Observer, to Lucetta Scaraffia.

Said the feminist of the Vatican.

Also much appreciated by Francesco, who wrote the preface of one of her books and called her on her cell phone.

Something between them seems to have broken.

Prima Scaraffia published the essay From the last counter, in which she recounted her lunar experience as a woman summoned to the synod on the family and isolated at the back of the room. Until the Argentine pontiff had defended it. But then the Vatican rose up for its terrible accusations, well documented, of abuses committed by the clergy on the religious, often forced to abort, and on the nuns reduced to servants without pay for cardinals and bishops.

Doesn’t the Holy Father reign in the Vatican?

No, the Roman curia commands.

Now Scaraffia criticizes with Bergoglio.

I met her. very disappointed, I would say indignant. But continue to love the Pope and the Church. Our stories are very similar. She, a former sixty-eight, feminist, communist, atheist, Buddhist apprentice, returned to the faith by accidentally entering Santa Maria in Trastevere during the feast for the return of a restored icon of the Madonna and hearing the chanting of theAkathistos Byzantine; I in Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs, in Paris, on Ash Wednesday, listening to the sentence of Paul to the Corinthians: “Now is the favorable moment, now is the day of salvation”. I understood that it was not just the words of a book: it was God speaking to me.

Will it come to the female priesthood?

I do not think so. Two millennia of deviant theology have made the Church misogynist.

So how do you explain the legend of Pope Joan who flourished in the 9th century?

Precisely with the atavistic anguish of seeing a woman who ascends the throne of Peter pretending to be a man and giving birth in public during a procession from the Vatican to the Lateran. Hence the grotesque ritual of the deacon in charge of confirming, through a perforated chair, the presence of the testicles in the newly elected pontiff: “Duos habet et bene pendentes”. The priests took their places on the pedestal. Instead they remain sinners, like everyone else. They see the woman as Eve the temptress, rather than as Mary Magdalene, the first witness of Christ’s resurrection.

January 14, 2022 (change January 14, 2022 | 22:59)

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