New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966. First edition. Tall octavo (9 1/2 inches tall), original black cloth stamped in gold and silver. Lower corner bumped, previous owner marks to endpapers inked over in black, bright cloth boards and dust jacket with only very gentle wear to corners and spine ends. An excellent copy. Item #611
"SO THE LOFTY TEACHING OF ST PIUS X HAS WON THE BATTLE" First American edition of the companion volume to Pope John XXIII's Journal of a Soul. The preface to this collection characterizes the correspondence as an "album of memories which the Pope wished to share with his French children: not as Pope but as a friend who had lived among them and loved them." This description belies the serious nature of Roncalli's most sensitive diplomatic mission. In 1944, after a long career of service to communities on the margins of the Catholic world in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece, Roncalli was suddenly thrust under the spotlight: "Pius XII named Roncalli nuncio to Paris, the Vatican's most prestigious diplomatic post, at an extremely difficult moment for the church after the city had been liberated by the Allies. He replaced Bishop Valerio Valeri, whose removal General Charles de Gaulle demanded because of Valeri's compromising relationship with the Nazi puppet state in southern France, the hated Vichy regime. A relatively large number of French bishops had tarnished reputations because of allegedly similar sympathies, and de Gaulle, devout Catholic though he was, was on the warpath against them" (John O'Malley, A History of the Popes).
This volume traces Roncalli's mission, beginning with a letter by Mgr. J.B. Montini (the future Paul VI), presenting the nuncio to Cardinal Suhard of Paris (December 1944) and culminating in the congratulatory letters that poured in when (in 1953) Roncalli was rewarded by Pius XII for his service and named him Patriarch of Venice and Cardinal. Lavishly illustrated with a vibrant frontispiece portrait and forty-five additional photographs, Mission to France followed the format of the 1965 edition of the Holy Father's Journal of a Soul: edited by Don Loris Capovilla (John's longtime secretary, confidant, and literary executor), translated by Dorothy White, with a dust jacket illustrated by Giacomo Manzu. Capovilla's short Preface (composed in April 1963, shortly after John's death) emphasizes Roncalli's adaptation to the rich liturgical and pastoral life of France: "As Nuncio, Mgr. Roncalli did not shut himself up in an imposing palace at the end of a street in Paris, but went every day in search of a community, or a soul, that for him was France." An interesting appendix ("Consecration to of the Church of St. Pius X at Lourdes") brings the French mission to a full circle. It depicts now-Cardinal Roncalli's return to France in the fall of 1957 to preside at the consecration of a church dedicated to the newly-canonized Pope St. Pius X, Roncalli's predecessor as Patriarch, Cardinal, Pope, and Saint. Published in the same year as the first English translation. Approbations.