Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Birth of Vatican Radio - 75 Years Ago

On February 12, 1931, the Marquis Marconi spoke these historical words:

I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing.

This is how the world-renowned scientist Guglielmo Marconi [the inventor of wireless radio] announced the birth of Vatican Radio. He then continued:

"With the help of Almighty God, who allows the many mysterious forces of nature to be used by man, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will accord to the Faithful of all the world the consolation of hearing the voice of the Holy Father. Most Holy Father, the work that Your Holiness has deigned to entrust to me, I, today return to You...may you deign, Holy Father, to allow the entire world to hear your august words."

A reporter at the time of this broadcast wrote, "In this moment, the entire worlds awaits...The Vicar of Christ, through the means of this new ineffable instrument, and in a voice heard very clearly, begins to speak. It is exactly 4:49 p.m. on the Twelfth of February, Nineteen Thirty-One."

The rich text of the first radio message was written in Latin by Pius XI himself. The Pope imbued his message with passages from the Sacred Scriptures which emphasize the universality of the Gospel message. Pius XI concluded the first line of the discourse in this manner, "Listen, O Heavens, to that which I say; listen, O Earth, listen to the words which come from my mouth...Listen and hear, O Peoples of distant lands!" He continued, speaking in the voice of the Old Testament prophet, "To the City and to the World! Now, we turn to the reporting of the event and to the story that preceeded it."
In 1996 Vatican Radio can boast of programs beamed worldwide on a daily basis. Programs are offered in 34 languages, and are sent out from the Vatican on short wave, medium wave, FM, and satellite. Thanks to Amy at Open Book

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