[APG Public List] Suicide in Italy

Craig Kilby persisto at live.com
Tue Mar 2 13:43:01 MST 2010

Stephen and Ray,

Thank you both for weighing in on this. I have not been all that clear on all the details. There are over 70 article on just these two people (Hester Bates Laughlin and her husband Lt. Carlo Pfister).  The most extensive version of the story was published in the St. Louis Republican on 6 NOV 1912, the day after her suicide. The pertinent part of this article that relates to the Vatican is quoted below. The article starts with all the back ground, and the part of imimportance here is:

"Dr. Marzonni, the physician of the Vatican, found Mme. Pfister still breathing, but she died half an hour later after his arrival."

Another reference to this is from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, issue of 8 November 1912:

"Cablegrams from Rome state Mrs. Pfister's suicide is attributed to acute neurasthenia and this version was accepted at the coroner's inquest."

Also, an article from the New York Times, on 10 November 1912,  says:

"[Mrs. Laughlin, the mother] came from America two months ago* to stay with her daughter, and intended to help Mrs. Pfister in furnishing and arranging the apartment she had taken in the aristocratic Via Venti Settembre, facing the War Office and not far from the Quirirnal Palace." That is to say, the Vatican.

So, since the Vatican was and is a sovereign state, completely independent of Italy or any other government, we think the inquest papers may well be found in the Vatican.  Naturally, this may be more easily be answered by looking at the U.S. State Department archives as was suggested earlier.

NOTE to Elizabeth Shown Mills:  I realize that spousal deaths are usually and often correctly laid at the door of the the spouse (a current case here in the normally staid Northern Neck buttresses this automatic conclusion), but in this case I really do not think the spouse had anything but love and devotion to his wife. He had resigned his very prestigious commission with Italian Navy, which brought him no small measure of shame during a war, in order to devote his attention to his wife. He had cabled the mother to come over to Italy to help[p, and arrangements were being made to move to America. Many mountains had been moved to accomplish all in order to appease the mentally ailing Hester. The mother was right there at the time. I think Hester really was suffering from a complete mental break-down.

On Mar 2, 2010, at 2:50 PM, Stephen Danko wrote:

> "As far as the Pope's physician being involved: was this physician actually an official at the Vatican? It sounds, to me, more as if the relevant inquest would be a matter for the Italian government, not the Vatican."
> The State of the Vatican City was created in 1929 as a result of the Lateran Treaty. The Pope is the head of state, officially known as the Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City. The State of the Vatican City is currently the only absolute monarchy in Europe, since the Pope has full and absolute executive, legislative, and judicial authority there.
> The Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano (Gendarmerie Corps of the Vatican City State) is responsible for crime prevention and investigation, police protection, and traffic control.
> The head of the Department of Health and Welfare has a medical degree and is appointed by the Pope. The department includes a permanent healthcare staff including doctors and surgeons in various disciplines.
> The Italian government has no jurisdiction within the State of the Vatican City.
> Stephen J. Danko, PhD, PLCGS
> http://www.stephendanko.com/

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