Roman Catholic Pope. Born Achille Ratti in Descio, Italy near Milan, the son of a silk merchant, after becoming a priest at age 22 he worked many years in Milan's Ambrosian Library and the Vatican Library. He was named Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan in 1921. At the death of Pope Benedict XV, Ratti was elected Pope on February 6, 1922 and chose the name Pius XI. His ascension coincided with Benito Mussolini's rise to power in Italy, causing constant conflict with the Fascist government. Later in 1937, after Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, Pius XI denounced the Nazi government, and its practices. Pius XI spoke out continually against nationalism, racism, and totalitarianism and their menace to human dignity. He created the new feast of Christ the King, established to recall the rights of religion in the state. Pius established the Vatican broadcasting station. He canonized over 20 saints, including Sir Thomas More. He died of natural causes at age 81, only months before the outbreak of World War II. Pius XI chose for his tomb a spot in the Papal Grotto occupied by some of the Jacobite kings of England. They were moved to another location in the Grotto, however, when workers were digging in the Grotto for Pius' tomb, they unearthed ancient archaeological sites and tombs, included what is believed to be the tomb of Saint Peter. Today it is called the Necropolis.
Bio by: Frank McGady