Monday, November 30, 2009

Rev. Dr. Pierre Blet, S.J. (1918 - 2009): R.I.P.

Sunday morning at 9 a.m. one of the very last Rome legends passed on to his reward at Rome's Hospital Santo Spirito.

Fr. Pierre Blet, S.I., famous Church historian, Rome professor and renowned Jesuit scholar (and great defender of the memory of the Servant of God Pius XII), passed away at the age of 91.

With this loss the Company of Jesus loses one of its most heroic members: ever wise, observant, pious and loyal. May the Lord reward him with the prize of His chosen ones.  Fr. Blet celebrated every day Holy Mass according to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Missal.   

October of 2008 I was in the lobby of the Gregoriana (Rome's Jesuit University) and took this pic of our beloved Fr. Blet.  It was always a joy to see him at the Gregorian and to see him smile and wave.  He was a brilliant man, shy and had an angelic smile.  He would always smile back if you smiled at him.  He was French and spoke some English.  He once told me of his trip to St. Louis once upon a time. 

Fr. Blet entered the Jesuits in the 1930s.  In 1958 he graduated from the Sorbonne with his doctorate.  In Rome he became professor of modern history at the Pontifical Gregorian Univeristy and for 17 years he taught diplomatic history at the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastics.  In 1985 he was elected a corresponding member of the Institut de France.  Once in about 1998 when John Paul II was chatting with journalists on a flight he was asked about Pius XII and his answer was simple: "Read Blet."

Paul VI asked Fr. Blet along with some other scholars to defend the wartime record of Pius XII.  After their research they published the Actes et Documents du Saint-Siège relatifs à la seconde guerre mondiale (Città del Vaticano, 1965-1981).   In English you can buy Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican published in English by Paulist Press in 1999.

The funeral will be tomorrow at 10 am at the chapel of the Curia Generalizia della Compagnia di Gesù (Borgo Santo Spirito 4, vicino Santo Spirito in Sassia).

Requiem aeternam!

And many thanks to Rodolfo who brought me along to visit Fr. Blet once and for alerting me of the news of his passing. 


  1. A great loss for catholic historical science. I have just finished reading one of his last coverages: Richelieu et l'eglise (Versailles 2007), excellent like his other works.

  2. Extremely sad, especially when you consider that there are not many CATHOLIC Jesuits left.

    The whole Order has collapsed since Vatican II, and their "new" Father General is totally in the radical mold of Pedro Arrupe-who began the collapse.

    Hard to believe that there were roughly 36,100 Jesuits before Vatican II, and today less than 18,000. In the USA before 1962, there were 9,000+ Jesuit priests, and close to 3,600 seminarians (USA alone!!!), today there are 2,585 Jesuit priests, and less than 200 seminarians. In Italy there are only 2 Jesuit novices!
    It's a fate similar to all other radical liberal Orders like the Franciscans, Salesians, Redemptorists, and even the Trappists (whose average age worldwide is about 76).
    Pray for the holy soul of this great priest....among the last of his kind.

  3. I just wanted to point out that here it says that Pope Pius XII is Servant of God. He is actually Venerable. Let us not regress.

    Anonymous, it is a shame that orders such as these that were once great are now in the pit of liberalism. I am especially sad that the Salesians are as liberal as they are today, because St. John Bosco is one of my favorite Saints. And the Redemptorists were founded by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri... who would have imagined that they would be in the shape they are in today?

  4. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Fr. Blet for a project I have been doing. I was rather overawed to be interviewing a historian of such stature, but he immediately put me at my ease and was charming, funny and very informative. He also said some very flattering things about my own (limited) knowledge. It was always a pleasure to meet him at the Gregorian and he will be sadly missed.
    Maria Way, University of Westminster, London