Celebrating Guglielmo Marconi in the Vatican 150 years from his birth Celebrating Guglielmo Marconi in the Vatican 150 years from his birth 

Celebrating Marconi and his scientific vision in the service of humanity

An event at the Marconi Museum inside the Vatican on Saturday celebrates 150 years since the birth of the man who set up Vatican Radio. Present, alongside the Prefect and directors of the Dicastery for Communications, were also Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, and Guglielmo Marconi’s grandson.

By Stefanie Stahlhofen and Linda Bordoni

This week saw the 150th anniversary of the birth of Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor-entrepreneur who set up Vatican Radio in 1931 upon the request of Pope Pius XI. 

Marconi, received the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with the German scientist Karl Ferdinand Braun, for their "contribution to the development of wireless telegraphy," a technology that became mandatory on all ships across the globe after Mayday radio calls helped save over 720 people in the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

As Marconi’s grandson – also named Guglielmo Marconi – remarked on Saturday morning during a celebration of the inventor’s life and work at the Vatican Museum dedicated to the Nobel Laureate, his grandad’s technology continues to save people's lives and continues to be used for the good of humanity.

Listen to the interview with Guglielmo Marconi jr

Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Stefanie Stahlhofen, Marconi's grandson explained that his family’s frequentation of the Vatican goes back many years:

"My family has always been very close to the Vatican because my grandmother, Maria Cristina Bezzi-Scali, Countess Bezzi-Scali, who married Guglielmo Marconi, came from a very strong Catholic and Vatican family. Her father, Count Francesco Bezzi-Scali, was Brigadier General of the Pope's noble guard.

And when Marconi married my grandmother, she introduced him to Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli then Secretary of State of the Holy See and future Pope Pius XII.

Thanks to this contact he met Pius XI who was a great man, a Pope very sensitive to progress and science, and he asked my grandfather to build a Vatican radio.

And so, from 1930 to 1931 my grandfather stayed nearly one year in Rome for this purpose, and it was the beginning of the first blessing by a Pope to the whole Christian world on 12 February 1931 with the famous broadcast of the inauguration [of Vatican Radio] that we still have got in the archives of the Istituto Luce.

Celebrating Marconi in the Vatican
Celebrating Marconi in the Vatican

What does it mean for you that there is also a museum here in the Vatican Gardens that remembers of all this?

It's like coming back home. I've been here in Vatican since I was small, before with my grandmother for the ceremonies, then with my mother. And so, for me, it's coming back home.

And it's very important, this alliance between progress, ethics, science and faith.

I want to recall that radio still helps lots of people, the lives of lots of people by sea, people who are running away from tragedies, civil wars, dictatorships… Marconi, through the radio, still saves thousands and thousands of lives.

He had that very famous quote…

Yes, his famous quote was, “My inventions are to save human mankind and not to destroy it.

What do you hope for the future?

That there will always be an ethical science, not a destructive science!"

Marconi's grandson, Guglielmo Marconi speaking to Vatican Radio's Stefanie Stahlhofen
Marconi's grandson, Guglielmo Marconi speaking to Vatican Radio's Stefanie Stahlhofen

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27 April 2024, 17:44