June 24, 2011. (Romereports.com)
Don Gaetano Piccinini was a Catholic priest that lived in Nazi occupied Rome. He is remembered for saving the lives of countless Jews. He has been honored with the medal known as the “Righteous Among the Nations,” which is given away by the Israeli Institute Yad Vashem for saving Jews during the Holocaust.
Israel's ambassador to the Vatican gathered with some of Rome's Jewish population in order to celebrate the memory of Piccinini. He told the crowd that the pope was a protector of Jews as well as Catholics. And the recognition of this priest goes beyond a question of religion. Mordechay Lewy
Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican“To rescue people in times of distress has nothing to do with any affiliation ideologically or religious, it is a matter of a human instinct and the human instinct was at the right moment there and this is why he is honored. You could find among the people who rescued Jews, Muslims, Christians and non-believers as well.”
The medal from Yad Vashem is the highest civil honor given away by the State of Israel.
Ambassador Lewy presented the medal to the remaining members of Piccinini's family.
With him was Father Flavio Peloso who says that Piccinini's work is something the Church is proud to celebrate.
Fr. Flavio Peloso
Superior General, Opera di Don Orione“For us this means that today we recognize this praiseworthy work through the congregation, a great page of solidarity, of maternity of the Catholic Church. We know of several cases but these events are without doubt and beyond any argument, these are facts, facts we know that honor the Church.”
Attending the ceremony were many Jewish survivors. Some told their own stories from the Holocaust and praised people like Father Piccinini who were responsible for saving countless Jews.