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