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Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (Pope Pius XI)


Pope Pius XI was the first ruler of Vatican.During his pontificate, Pope Pius XI put an end to the "Roman Question" and the Vatican became an independent sovereign state.His papal motto was, "Pax Christi in Regno Christi," translated as "The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ."


Achille Ratti was born in Desio, in the province of Milan, in 1857, in the family of a silk factory owner.He became a priest in 1879 and began his academic career within the Church


Upon finishing his first schooling with Achille Ratti entered the seminary.His teachers and the Archbishop called Ratti "our little old man"? but he was an excellent sportsman and a man with an active lifestyle.He often participated in various sports competitions among seminarians.

Ratti obtained three doctorates (in philosophy, canon law and theology) at the Gregorian University in Rome.There he established himself as a diligent and hardworking student.There were a lot of Jesuit priests among his teachers.


Ordained a priest in 1879, and having already acquired a name as a brilliant scholar, he devoted most of the subsequent 43 years to work as a Church librarian. There he developed a new library classification systems.He was selected by Benedict for diplomatic service and sent as apostolic visitor in 1918 to Poland. The following year he became apostolic nuncio in Poland.The appointment of Achille Ratti as Apostolic Visitor to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and, later, to Russia was not surprising: Ratti interested in politics and had the talent to convince and lead people. He wanted to establish contacts with the Soviet Union at ane cost,but Pope Benedict XV forbade histraveling into the USSR.

He returned to Italy in 1921 and became cardinal archbishop of Milan.

Ratti was elected pope on the conclave's fourteenth ballot on 6 February 1922 and took the name "Pius XI", explaining that Pius IX was the pope of his youth and Pius X had appointed him head of the Vatican Library.

In his management of the Church's internal affairs Pius XI mostly continued the policies of his predecessor. Like Benedict XV, he emphasised spreading Catholicism in Africa and Asia and on the training of native clergy in those mission territories. He ordered every religious order to devote some of its personnel and resources to missionary work.

Не strongly critisezen modernism in any form.He was a convinced orthodox and believed that the modernist movement undermine the fundamental Catholic teachings.

He condemned, in his 1928 encyclical, Mortalium animos, the idea that Christian unity could be attained by establishing a broad federation of many bodies holding varying doctrines (the widespread view among Protestant ecumenists); rather, the Catholic Church was the one true Church, all her teachings were objectively true, and Christian unity could only be achieved by non-Catholic denominations rejoining the Catholic Church and accepting the doctrines they had rejected.

Pius XI led an active foreign policy.A talented diplomat, he was always a supporter of the negotiations.


  • Ratti put an end to the "Roman question",made Vatican sovereign and independent state.He was also a well-known mountain climber with many peaks in the Alps named after him, he having been the first to scale them


  • Casti connubii

    ( This encyclical stressed the sanctity of marriage, prohi...)

  • Quadragesimo anno

    (Quadragesimo anno is an encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI...)

  • Quas primas

    (Quas primas established the Feast of Christ the King- an ...)

  • Ubi arcano,

    (Encyclical about christianising of all aspects)


Achille Ratti never neglected to recite three special prayers each day: one was for a good death; the other two were for his status as a priest.


Pius XI took a pragmatic approach toward the different forms of government. In his encyclical Dilectissima Nobis (1933), in which he addressed the situation of the Church in Republican Spain, he proclaimed, that the Church is not "bound to one form of government more than to another, provided the Divine rights of God and of Christian consciences are safe", and specifically referred to "various civil institutions, be they monarchic or republican, aristocratic or democratic

At first Ratti supported the fascist regime of Mussolini.During the negotiations with the fascist leader,Ratti has agreed to provide independence to the Vatican in exchange for full support of the fascist regime.But it soon became clear that fascist used the church for the sake of seizing power, and did not consider the Church as a partner.Hitler and Mussolini exerted increasing pressure on the church hierarchy and Pius XI in order to obtain the dissolution of Catholic organizations and the adoption of such odious Nazi ideas,as racism and anti-Semitism.Such measures were too radical even for Ratti.He watched the rising tide of totalitarianism with alarm and delivered three papal encyclicals challenging the new creeds: against Italian Fascism Non abbiamo bisogno ; against Nazism "Mit brennender Sorge" and against atheist Communist "Divini redemptoris".


It was the constant concern of Pius XI to bring science and faith together. In 1936 he establish the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.To maintain the position of the Catholic Church, he fostered and concluded a record number of concordats, including the Reichskonkordat with Germany.

Pius XI's first encyclical as pope was directed at Christinisation of society. Ratti praised family as the basis of good society, so in his teaching family took the special position.

Pius XI was against industrialisation,because he believed, that industrialization results in less freedom at the individual and communal level, because numerous free social entities get absorbed by larger ones.He identifies certain dangers for small and medium-size enterprises, which have insufficient access to capital markets and are squeezed or destroyed by the larger ones. He warns that capitalist interests can become a danger for nations, which could be reduced to “chained slaves of individual interests”.

Quotations: "There is something great in science; not in pure and simple science but in that science that is allied with faith."


Pius XI was a blunt-spoken and no-nonsense man,which rarely smiled.He was obsessed with science and new technologies,which would soon result in the founding and inauguration of Vatican Radio.He liked to spend a lot of time alone, always ate alone and would not allow his assistants or any other priests of other clergy to join him.Even his relatives had to make an appointment to see him.He was also an ardent supporter of norms and standards, not allowing anyone to violate them.In a personal communication Pius XI did not tolerate praise in his address and interrupt prelates who tried to extol him with the phrase:

- Do not play the fool!

Achille Ratti was known as a scribe and sportsman. Friends jokingly called him "the climber". He was really passionately interested in sport in his youth. He enjoyed cycling and mountaineering.One climbing trail in the area of Mont Blanc was named after him. He was also interested in music, for which he had a good voice and an excellent ear.

Physical Characteristics : Achille had a robust, medium-sized figure, and thin blond hair. But his high, broad forehead and the eyeglasses he had begun to wear betrayed the scholar.He was a calm, almost philosophical, about his behavior, the calm of a healthy, physically strong, self-assured person.

  • “Cardinal Tisserant has described the future Pope's career as a librarian: "As a student in the theological seminary, Don Achille Ratti had been in charge of the reading room and was accustomed to help his fellow students, who, more than likely, were provided with very poor notions of bibliography. He considered that his chief task as assistant librarian of the Ambrosiana was to assist visitors in their research involving manuscripts or rare books, He tried to know the resources of the library as completely as possible. Since he had an excellent memory, he succeeded so well that many years later, when he was Pope, he remembered titles with their locations in the Ambrosiana. He preferred not to specialize too much. For many years he was only one of the assistant librarians, and, like his colleagues, he spent most of his time in the preparation of publications. The director of the Ambrosiana inclined more and more to leave the contacts of readers and the care of the material organization to him."”


  • Philosophers & Thinkers


  • Writers


  • Artists


  • Sport & Clubs


  • Other Interests

    harmonium, the cembalo

  • Music & Bands




Francesco Ratti - Italy - landowner,silk factory owner

Hardworking man, who was ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of his children's education

Teresa Ratti - Italy

Signora Ratti was a dark-haired, medium-sized woman, with lively dark eyes.

Eduardo Gemelli - Italy - doctor