December 10, 2012

The late archbishop of Florence, Italian Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa, has been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem for the role he played in a widespread network set up to rescue Jews following the Nazi occupation of Italy.

During the Second World War, Florence was the scene of a major rescue mission in a joint effort by Jewish leaders and members of the Catholic Church.

Dalla Costa guided, initiated and encouraged Catholic clergy to participate in the network.

He recruited rescuers from among the clergy, supplied letters to his activists so they could go to heads of monasteries and convents to ask them to shelter Jews, and sheltered fleeing Jews in his own palace for short periods until they were taken to safe places.

Through its joint work, the network managed to save hundreds of local Jews as well as Jewish refugees from other countries.