Date of Award


First Advisor

Maryann Tebben

Second Advisor

Joseph Luzzi


The genesis of the thesis stems from the uncomfortable marriage of religion and political belief in the early twentieth century Italy, specifically pre- WWII. How can a country and its people be beholden to two states, one religious and the other civil who share the same capital of Rome? Historically, the Vatican’s role has been weaved through the tapestry of Italian society as a force whose capillary influence echoed through all walks of life, yet the temporal loss of power following the Risorgimento left the institution in political limbo. The landmark agreement called the Lateran Pact signed in 1929 between Mussolini’s fascist regime and the Vatican under Pius XI’s papacy transformed the institutional relations between the two sovereign states. At times bound together by convenience, Mussolini and Pius XI were uncomfortable bed partners, who used one another to advance their own needs. It was an arrangement constructed on convenience and guided by self-interest; it charted a new frontier where the Italian people were subjects of the two institutions. This work provides an account through the methodological lens of a histoire totale, on how the Vatican rose from the ashes of WWII to become the leading and only trustworthy institution in Italy.

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