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During the German occupation of Rome from 1942-1944, Irishman Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty ran an escape organization for Allied POWs and civilians, including Jews. Safe within the Vatican state, he regularly ventured out in disguise to continue his mission, which earned him the nickname 'The Pimpernel of the Vatican'.
When the Allies entered Rome, he and his collaborators - priests, nuns, and laypeople of numerous nationalities and religious beliefs - had saved the lives of over 6,500 people.
The first new telling of this extraordinary story in decades, this book also addresses the fascinating dichotomy between O’Flaherty and Herbert Kappler, the Gestapo chief in Rome who ordered him killed, and who, after the war, reconciled with the monsignor, and even asked him to perform his baptism.
For his heroic efforts, O’Flaherty was awarded the highest honors, including a Congressional Medal, and was the first Irishman named the Notary of the Holy Office. His story was immortalized in the 1983 film The Scarlet and the Black, which starred Gregory Peck as O’Flaherty.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jean on 05-27-15
I found this to be a fascinating story about an event I knew little about. I do remember in several of W.E.B. Griffin’s historical novels he mentioned a Vatican priest that was rescuing allied soldiers and Jews. I did not follow up and check to see it he was a fictional character or not.
The book is a biography of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (1898-1963). He was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and senior official of the Roman Caria in Rome and a significant figure in Catholic resistance to Nazism. During WWII, he was responsible for saving 6500 allied soldiers and Jews from the Nazi.
Fleming covers his early life but details most excitedly the cat and mouse game between O’Flaherty and the Gestapo and Sicherheitsdienst. He evaded the Gestapo traps so successfully they called him “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican.”
Ireland was a neutral country during WWII and had the only English speaking Embassy in Rome. The wife of the Ambassador, Delia Murphy, was a key helper of O’Flaherty’s at great risk to herself and the Embassy.
Apparently they made a T.V. movie of this story starring Gregory Peck in 1983, titled “The Scarlet and the Black”. I shall have to check Amazon and see if they have it; I think I would like to watch it after reading this exciting book.
I read this as an e-book download from Amazon using the Kindle app on my iPad. It came as a whispersync to the audio format with Brian Troxell narrating it. The e-book is 224 pages and the release date is 2012.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
By AliJoy on 03-16-15
Very touching story, not at all what expected
I had expected more novel-like narration, but I did not expect the level of research and citation. This book is wonderfully well written and a beautiful piece of history from an ugly time.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful