Pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world!

Pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eugenio Zolli, Former Chief Rabbi of Rome

“Conversion consists in answering God’s call. Man does not chose the moment of his conversion, but he is converted when he receives this call from God. Then there is but one thing to do: obey”. 


 Several months ago I was looking at books in the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Shop and a friend held up the book, "Why I Became a Catholic" by Eugenio Zolli.  The new title is "Before The Dawn".  I was so excited because I wanted to learn more about him so I eagerly purchased the book and read about the life of a Jewish man who converted to Catholicism that is truly amazing and inspiring.

One day the Jewish child Israel Zolli saw in the home of his classmate Stanislas, the Christian son of a widow, a crucifix hanging on a white wall. The profound, indelible impression he took away from this was secretly to guide his entire spiritual quest to come.

In 1944, while in the synagogue celebrating Yom Kippur, Zolli experienced a mystical vision of Jesus Christ. Within a year he was baptized a Catholic at which time he changed his first name from Israel to Eugenio, the same Christian name as Pope Pius XII. He did this to honor the Pope for the help he gave Jews trying to escape the Nazi's  during World War II.  Eugenio tells us about the charity of Pope Pius XII in his own words and more information here. 

An important witness to the role of Pius XII in wartime Italy is Rabbi Israel Zolli, Chief Rabbi of Rome. He was an eye-witness of the deportation of Rome's Jews by the Gestapo in 1943. In his book, Antisemitismo, he states: "…No hero in all of history was more militant, more fought against, none more heroic than Pius XII in pursuing the work of true charity!...and this on behalf of all the suffering children of God."

At three o'clock in the afternoon, just like Jesus

Through the Holy Father's intervention, Eugenio Zolli was named a professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. In October 1946, he entered the Third Order of Saint Francis, the distinguishing feature of which is evangelical poverty practiced by lay people in the world. Zolli, a faithful parishioner at Stella Matutina, discreetly attended talks on the Gospel given by his parish priest. During Christmas 1955, he himself gave a conference on the announcement of the Redeemer in the Old Testament. But in January 1956, he came down with pneumonia. His wife Emma was also sick and elderly. Their younger daughter, Miriam, who was married and had given birth to a little girl, Maura Brigida, stayed at her father's bedside in this final illness. A week before his death, Eugenio confided to a nun who was caring for him, "I will die the first Friday of the month, at three o'clock in the afternoon, just like Our Lord." On Friday, March 2, in the morning, he received Holy Communion. Having fallen into a coma at noon, at three o'clock in the afternoon Eugenio Zolli committed his soul to God.  He had written at the end of his memoirs: "We can trust in nothing save the mercy of God, save the compassion of Christ, whom humanity put to death because it did not know how to live in Him. We can rely on nothing but the intercession of Her whose Heart was pierced through by the lance that pierced Her Son's side."