POPE PIUS XII: Vatican City – Vatican City’s radio station issued an official announcement today that Pope Pius XII has passed away. His death came at about 3.50 a.m. Italian President Giovanni Gronchi and Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani expressed the nation’s deep sorrow and ordered a period of national mourning. In the United States, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles also made statements of condolence. Born Eugenio Pacelli in Rome in 1876, the pope studied theology and was ordained in 1899, going on to a distinguished career as a professor and a cardinal. He was appointed pope after the death of Pope Pius XI in 1939, a time that coincided with the beginning of one of the most tragic periods in the history of humanity. During the Second World War, the pope refused to leave Rome for a safer place and resisted all pressure, particularly from the Fascists. The 262nd pontiff was known as the «pope of peace» for his efforts to avert war. In 1939, he made a last-minute appeal to Hitler and to Britain and France and when that failed, tried to keep Italy out of the war.