[APG Public List] Re: Suicide in the Early Twentieth Century

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 2 13:21:15 MST 2010

--- On Tue, 3/2/10, Stephen Danko <stephen at stephendanko.com> wrote:

> The State of the Vatican City was created in 1929 as a result of the 
> Lateran Treaty.

     For that matter, the Papal States existed before 1929. That was not my point.

> The Italian government has no jurisdiction within the State of the Vatican 
> City.

     Perfectly true, and perfectly irrelevant to my point. The _only_ thing in Craig's account which involved the Vatican was his mention that the Pope's personal physician treated the woman who died, and headed the inquest.
     The incident happened in Rome - but, unless I missed it, there was no mention that it took place on Vatican territory. In general, the territory of the Vatican in Rome did not, as far as I know, include many private residences for those who were not Vatican officials. I am not saying that such a thing is impossible - merely that it is far from a given.
     I _do not know_ what the rules at the time were governing the appointment of the Pope's personal physician. However, it seems at least possible that he was chosen as the most able - or discreet, or prestigious, whatever - physician available in Rome, but also attended other, non-Vatican clients, presumably wealthy and well-connected ones, as this family was. His status as the Pope's personal physician _would_ be noted in the news, but might _not_ signify his own nationality.
     So, unless I missed something, it is entirely possible that the Pope, _and_ the dead woman, were treated by an _Italian_ physician who attended wealthy and prominent patients. If she lived in territory governed by Italy, and the suicide or whatever it was took place there, then presumably the inquest was held by the Italian government. If the Pope's physician was an Italian citizen, he might have headed the inquest - or, given the special circumstances, might have been allowed to head the inquest even if he was _not_ an Italian citizen. Without knowing the relevant Italian laws of the period (and under what circumstances they might be bent), I can't say if the latter is possible or not.
     What matters here is not the identity of the most prominent patient of the physician involved, but the _actual territory on which the incident took place_. It is possible I missed it (and I'm not going back into the archives to check), but I didn't see Craig mention specifically that it took place within Vatican territory. Assuming he did not, then the reference to "the Pope" got everyone thinking of the Vatican - without thinking through what such a mention must mean, and what it might not mean. Even if I am at fault here, for overlooking a reference to the fact the suicide took place on Vatican territory, I would point out that this is hardly uncommon - a reference to one thing _implies_ something which gets the researcher thinking in that direction, even when the reality lies in another direction altogether.
                         Ray Beere Johnson II


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