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There is much to be said for a country of Ireland’s size having only one embassy in Rome.
The one I have in mind played a vital role in the Second World War in rescuing thousands of Jews and allied soldiers from Nazi hands. This embassy was the only English-speaking embassy to remain open in Rome during the war. The major player in the rescue effort was of course the estimable Mons Hugh O’Flaherty. But he could not have achieved his work without the assistance of the Irish Vatican embassy. Due to his efforts and those of Pope Pius XII, the historian Martin Gilbert estimates that approximately 85% of Italy’s Jews survived the war, compared to 80% of European Jewry in general who perished. On this basis alone, ignoring the fact that the Vatican is still the destination of choice for the vast majority of Irish people visiting Rome, it is apparent that the Irish embassy to the Hole See is of more practical use than it’s “secular” counterpart.
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