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(born Giacomo Paolo Giovanni Battista della Chiesa, 1854-1922, Pope from 1914 to his death, succeeded Pope Pius X)
Fine Postcard boldly Signed "Benedictus PP XV"
under the image which shows him full face wearing his cloak and with his cross around his neck, 5½" x 3½", no place (Vatican), no date
Benedict XV's pontificate was dominated by World War I, which he called "the suicide of Europe", and its turbulent aftermath. Benedict's first encyclical extended a heartfelt plea for an end to hostilities. His early call for a Christmas truce in 1914 was ignored. The Pope organized significant humanitarian efforts (establishing a Vatican bureau, for instance, to help prisoners of war from all nations contact their families) and made many unsuccessful attempts to negotiate peace, but his pleas for a negotiated peace made him unpopular, even in Catholic countries like Italy, among many supporters of the war who were determined to accept nothing less than total victory. His best known intervention was the seven-point Papal Peace proposal of August 1917, demanding a cessation of hostilities, a reduction of armaments, guaranteed freedom of the seas, and international arbitration. Only Woodrow Wilson responded directly, declaring that a declaration of peace was premature; in Europe each side saw him as biased in favour of the other and were unwilling to accept the terms he proposed. This resentment contributed to the exclusion of the Vatican from the Paris Peace conference of 1919.
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