Pope Francis Will Unseal Documents Revealing the Vatican Response to the Holocaust

Fred Ramage, Keystone/Getty Images
Fred Ramage, Keystone/Getty Images

You might not think that the events of World War II could harbor many more secrets. But a major gap in the historical record still exists and has confounded scholars for decades: the silence of Pope Pius XII and the Vatican in the midst of the Nazi regime.

It appears that won’t be the case for much longer. According to The New York Times, sealed archives documenting the thoughts and actions of Pius XII, who led the Roman Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, will be made available to scholars beginning March 2, 2020, the 81st anniversary of Pius XII’s election as pope. The Vatican's announcement was made by Pope Francis, who approved the decision to release the papers well before the standard 70-year interval between the end of a pontificate and access to its archival material, which in this case would have come about in 2028.

Because information about Pius’s activities during wartime has been scarce, scholars have debated why he seemingly failed to resist the Nazi presence in Italy, assist people of the Jewish faith against persecution, and condemn the systematic murders of the Holocaust. To some critics, Pius’s silence on the matter is incriminating. Others believe Pius realized open resistance would only anger Adolf Hitler and incite further violence. The Vatican sheltered victims, although whether that was the result of official policy or the individual actions of its members has been open to debate.

Historians have long sought details on the Vatican’s actions, and the Catholic Church has periodically released selected information or offered limited access to its collection. Historians, however, wanted unlimited and direct access. Even more pressure mounted when the Vatican moved Pius closer to sainthood in 2009. Lacking conclusive information about his actions during the war, critics questioned the escalation of his historic profile.

It still may be some time before scholars fully understand how Pius reacted to these events. Owing to the sheer volume of material in the Vatican’s archives relating to Pius, it could be years if not decades before researchers are able to provide a more complete picture of one of the darkest chapters in human history.

[h/t The New York Times]

Whiten Your Teeth From Home for $40 With This Motorized Toothbrush

AquaSonic
AquaSonic

Since many people aren't exactly rushing to see their dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's become more important than ever to find the best at-home products to maintain your oral hygiene. And if you're looking for a high-quality motorized toothbrush, you can take advantage of this deal on the AquaSonic Black Series model, which is currently on sale for 71 percent off.

This smart toothbrush can actually tell you how long to keep the brush in one place to get the most thorough cleaning—and that’s just one of the ways it can remove more plaque than an average toothbrush. The brush also features multiple modes that can whiten teeth, adjust for sensitive teeth, and massage your gums for better blood flow.

As you’d expect from any smart device, modern technology doesn’t stop at functionality. The design of the AquaSonic Black Series is sleek enough to seamlessly fit in with a modern aesthetic, and the charging base is cordless so it’s easy to bring on the go. The current deal even includes a travel case and eight Dupont replacement heads.

Right now, you can find the AquaSonic Black Series toothbrush on sale for just $40.

Price subject to change.

 

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Notre-Dame Cathedral’s New Spire Will Be an Exact Replica of the Old One

This wasn't actually the original spire.
This wasn't actually the original spire.
Michael McCarthy, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Just days after a fire ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris on April 15, 2019, France’s then-prime minister Édouard Philippe announced plans for an international competition to design a new, more modern spire “suited to the techniques and challenges of our time.”

Though not everyone supported the initiative, architects from all over the world made quick work of sharing their innovative ideas. Some imagined spires made from unconventional materials—Brazilian architect Alexandre Fantozzi favored stained glass, for example, and France’s Mathieu Lehanneur designed a flame-shaped spire covered in gold leaf—while others envisioned using the space for something completely different. Sweden’s Ulf Mejergren Architects suggested a rooftop swimming pool, and Studio NAB proposed a greenhouse.

But those architects will have to bring their inventive designs to life elsewhere. As artnet News reports, the French Senate recently passed legislation mandating that the cathedral be restored to its “last known visual state.” President Emmanuel Macron released a statement endorsing the decision and explaining that city officials would look to add a “contemporary gesture” in the “redevelopment of the surroundings of the cathedral” instead.

Though the 800-ton, 305-foot-tall spire was certainly one of Notre-Dame’s most striking features, it wasn’t actually part of the original building. The first spire, constructed between 1220 and 1230, began to deteriorate after several centuries, and it was removed in the late 1700s. The cathedral went spire-less until 1859, when builders completed work on architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s new design—which, according to Popular Mechanics, wasn’t an exact replica of the original.

17th-century etching of paris notre-dame cathedral
A 17th-century etching of Notre-Dame with its original spire.
I. Silvestre, Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

This event could have set the precedent for updating the spire this time, but it’s possible that government officials were motivated by more than a simple commitment to architectural consistency. Last year, Macron had promised that the restoration would be completed by 2024, when Paris is scheduled to host the Summer Olympics. It’s an ambitious goal, and a worldwide competition to come up with a new design could have delayed the process more than reconstructing the spire as it once was.

[h/t artnet News]