A 1944 image of Pope Pius XII meeting a royal regiment, by the Canadian Dept. of National Defence
Pope Pius XII had written a letter to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, imploring him to spare Rome from bombing.
In the letter, dated August 30, 1943, the Pope said Italy was "shackled and quite without the necessary means of defending herself", said a Telegraph report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
"We hope and pray that the military forces will find it possible to spare innocent civil populations, and in particular churches and religious institutions, the ravages of war," he said.
He hoped "God's temples and the homes erected by Christian charity for the poor and sick and abandoned members of Christ's flock, may survive the terrible onslaught".
Air raids on Rome began in May 1943. One of the heaviest was on July 19, when more than 500 Allied aircraft bombed railway freight yards and steel factories, killing hundreds of civilians.
The letter, kept by the Knights of Columbus, will be part of an exhibition in Rome's Capitoline Museums celebrating the ties between the city and the society.
No bombs, Pope Pius begged FDR (Sydney Morning Herald/Telegraph)