As of early 2017, the name, the term, the words “Vatican Radio” were to be strictly confined to “Radio Vaticana Italia” as this was part of a Vatican communications reorganization that was to be Italian-centric, at least in the beginning. Those of us in communications were enjoined not to use the name Vatican Radio unless we were referring to the Italian language radio.

I wrote a column about “the death of a radio” last March and received an incredible number of emails with people expressing condolences, disappointment, and delusion.

Today, as you will see below, I offer excerpts from a Vatican Radio report on the 65th anniversary of the inauguration of the radio. It is a fascinating, colorful read for sure, yet sad at the same time in light of the communications reforms. The most popular programs, for example, for the major language at Vatican radio were always the feature programs and it is those programs that basically died a year ago.

The story I offer below would have been typical of what the radio referred to as a “feature program.” I can just hear the voice of a reporter reading this account, the dramatic, yet historic recounting of the birth of a radio. Feature programs – the true art of storytelling!

If you want news a la radio, then scroll down to the bottom of the website, click on “podcasts” and listen to a selection of language news programs.


POPE FRANCIS WILL VISIT THE ITALIAN CITY OF NAPLES ON JUNE 21ST to take part in a meeting on “Theology after Veritatis Gaudium in the Mediterranean context.” He is scheduled to arrive around 9 AM and will be welcomed by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Bishop Francesco Marino of Nola, and Fr. Arturo Sosa, Jesuit Superior General. Francis will address participants in the conference that is being hosted by the San Luigi section of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy. The Pope is set to return to the Vatican early in the afternoon. He previously visited Naples in March 2015.

TO UNDERLINE HIS CONSTANT ATTENTION TO WELCOMING MIGRANTS, on Friday February 15, at 4.00 pm at the Fraternal Domus of Sacrofano (Rome), Pope Francis will preside the Eucharistic Celebration that opens the “Free from Fear” meeting on the realities of welcoming and receiving migrants organized by the Migrantes Foundation, by Italian Caritas and by the Centro Astalli. The three-day meeting starts February 15, 2019. The visit will have a private character, so the presence of journalists and communication operators is excluded. Vatican television will supervise the live broadcast of this event.

TODAY, FEBRUARY 12, MARKS THE 88TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INAUGURATION OF VATICAN RADIO on Thursday February 12, 1931. Pope Pius XI transmitted the first radio message in Latin in the presence of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio and creator of Vatican Radio, and Fr. Giuseppe Gianfranceschi S.I., first director of the radio.


On February 12, 1931, the Marquis Guglielmo Marconi spoke these historical words:

“I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing. With the help of Almighty God, who allows the many mysterious forces of nature to be used by man, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will accord to the Faithful of all the world the consolation of hearing the voice of the Holy Father. Most Holy Father, the work that Your Holiness has deigned to entrust to me, I, today return to You…may you deign, Holy Father, to allow the entire world to hear your august words.”

It is exactly 4:49 p.m. on the Twelfth of February, Nineteen Thirty-One.

The rich text of the first radio message was written in Latin by Pius XI himself. The Pope imbued his message with passages from the Sacred Scriptures which emphasize the universality of the Gospel message. Pius XI concluded the first line of the discourse in this manner: “Listen, O Heavens, to that which I say; listen, O Earth, listen to the words which come from my mouth…Listen and hear, O Peoples of distant lands!” He continued, speaking in the voice of the Old Testament prophet, To the City and to the World! Now, we turn to the reporting of the event and to the story that preceeded it.

As early as 1925, the Director General of Communications for Vatican City, Jesuit Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, was in the process of drawing up plans for the establishment of a wireless station in the Vatican. A letter written by Fr. Gianfranceschi dated July 25, 1925 speaks about the establishment of such a transmission station.

Two years later Fr. Gianfranceschi contacted the Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi to undertake initial plans and meetings for the realization of this project for the Pope. Marconi demonstrated much enthusiasm for this project and offered his complete availability to the Pontiff. Additionally, he stated that he would perform the work for the Church without charge. Two more years passed before the work would begin. Actually, it was the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929 that gave rise to the initiation of the work on this transmission station in the Vatican Gardens. Only four days after the signing of the Lateran Treaty, Marconi received official permission to begin construction of this project for the Vatican City State.

Inauguration of Vatican Radio
On the inauguration day of Vatican Radio a large group of reporters and cameramen from Paramount News of the United States was present. They brought equipment of the highest quality to record the event. The cameras, although hand-powered, shot for the first time in the history of cinema exterior footage with live soundtrack. The film footage of the event, which is conserved in the archives of Vatican Radio, is an irreplaceable testimony of the event in the history of the Church and telecommunications.

It is a cold clear day, with a light wind coming from the mountains in the north…at exactly 3:00 p.m. a Papal gendarme orders the evacuation of the premises. Two Papal banners suspended from each side of the building flutter in the wind. Inside everything is prepared and ready for the first broadcast. The transmitters have been tested for the last time. At 3:30 p.m. the Marquis Marconi arrives; the illustrious inventor goes directly to the Amplification Studio, places the earphones on his head, and begins the transcontinental conversations. The voice arrives clearly in New York, Melbourne, and Quebec. Fr. Gianfranceschi works with his usual conentration in preparing the final arrangements for the broadcast of the Pope. Although beseiged with many questions he responds with his characteristic smile and kindness. His manner serves to reduce the commotion and nervousness of the day. After several moments the equipment is shut down and will be reactivated only after the arrival of the Pontiff.

The first signal to be sent out is in Morse code. The technician types the words, In nomine Domini, Amen, that is In the Name of the Lord, amen! At this very instant radio stations, ships, and anyone who has the equipment to receive the signal hears this benediction and invitation. After a brief introduction of the Pope by Marconi, Pius XI takes the microphone and inaugurates the first world-wide radio message ever given by a Pope.

The first to approach the big microphone is the great architect. Guglielmo Marconi is 56 years old and two years earlier, Pius XI – who wanted a state-of-the-art radio station for the newborn Vatican City – proposed the company to him. The inventor of the radio visits the Vatican on 11 June 1929, just four days after the exchange of ratifications by the Lateran Pacts. The construction work is fast and when the second anniversary of the Pacts … is approaching, the inauguration of the radio is also approaching. …At the microphone, an excited Marconi underlines the most striking aspect of the novelty. After “twenty centuries” of papal Magisterium that has “made itself felt” with the documents, it is the “first time” in which it can be heard “simultaneously” by the Pope’s “living voice”


PS: Marconi’s daughter Maria Eletra lives in Rome

Click here for photos and video from those days in 1931with Pope Pius XI:



Inserting photos into my posted column from yesterday is not going swimmingly so I have created several carousels of photos – one for the inauguration, a second for parade viewing from the Canadian Embassy and third for a few photos taken at the Liberty Ball.





Well, folks, I have done what follows in bits and pieces and various places today and am now having technical issues so shall sign off. Have tons more photos and will try to get those posted later tonight or tomorrow morning. (made the same promise last night as I was writing!). I’ll be going to the shrine of the Immaculate Conception about 1 tomorrow and then start signing books at 2 – then the March for Life Mass at 5;30 – will be seated somewhere in the sanctuary.

I think St, Gabriel is a patron of communications so I’ll pray to him! God bless!


I’ve been trying for days to find a block of time where I could sit down and write a decent column and post a lot of photos of the inauguration and other events I attended this weekend. This may be the day and time but I won’t promise anything!

I have remained in Washington, as you probably know, to attend and be part of the 44th annual March for Life that takes place in the capital this Friday, preceded by Mass at the basilica shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday at 5:30 pm. I’ve posted some March-related news on my FB page and will try to keep you current on that!

The bookstore at the shrine has arranged another book-signing event for me on Thursday, starting at 2 pm or a bit before, and I am thrilled. I always look forward to meeting fans –readers of this column, TV viewers and listeners of EWTN Radio (“Vatican Insider” and my time with Teresa Tomeo on Wednesdays, etc. We did a show this morning and she arrived DC this afternoon.)

At 11 am today I joined Callista Gingrich at the Heritage Foundation for a presentation by Newt, one in a series of talks he has been giving there. It was a great talk by Newt on the meaning of President Trump’s inaugural address – he posted a FB live so I will share that with you all. At the end he introduced his wife to the gathering and then introduced yours truly! I was stunned but loved it, of course. Several people came up to me afterwards and I have since received some emails!

The past days have been some of the most incredible in my life, a life of many incredible moments! Attending the inauguration certainly was a first, followed by the afternoon viewing of the parade (part of it), followed by the evening’s “hottest ticket in town” as I was told, the Liberty Ball in the presence of the new president, vice president, their lovely wives and beautiful families! It was one of the longest, happiest, most exciting and, in many ways, surreal days I’ve ever experienced!


I’ve written a bit about the walking – the 36 to 40 blocks that Kathy and I and hundreds of thousands of others had to walk on Friday to reach the various venues. So many streets were closed in the center of DC that at times we almost despaired of reaching a street that actually had traffic and would therefore possibly have taxis.


A taxi took us as far as he could in the morning to reach the Capitol, and then it was walking, following arrows and security and police officials. No one entered any official venue (inauguration, parade, balls, the Thursday night entertainment) without an official ticket and photo ID.



President Trump arriving Capitol after visit to White House:


As I look back on the entire day I have to say everything seemed to work as planned (including expected demonstrators but not the fires they set or windows they broke): the security was beyond massive and functioned perfectly in all venue areas. Walking distances were long but it was all part of security measures. Signs were clear. Security and police were professional and polite (many being from out of state).

The newest adjective, as you know, is YUGE and that just starts to describe the security measures – cement barriers, 8-foot high fences, rows and rows of busses and big vehicles lining streets that would thwart anyone coming in (as was done in Nice last July) with a truck to mow people down or carry an explosive.


I saw more police cars in a 48-hour period in DC than I’ve probably seen in the last 6 months!


Those of us who had tickets to events all had to face the same challenges (security, walking, etc) and we all basically went along with the flow. The day promised some rain and many of us – having heard people on TV announce that we could now bring the once banned umbrellas – had umbrellas but they were all confiscated. Mine was very small and was inside my purse but the security people went through everything in our bags (no backpacks or big bags allowed), saw it and made me throw it away.

Later, at the Liberty Ball, security made me throw away a very small spray bottle of my favorite perfume: the plastic container was perhaps two inches high and had maybe a fraction of an ounce of perfume. I was willing to spray some perfume on to show it was not a lethal spray but that was not allowed. I was upset but what can you do. They overlooked nothing apparently. No exceptions made.

Friday morning, when my friend Kathy and I got to our Green Ticket Seating area at the capitol I was stunned to hear someone shout, “Joan, it’s Joan from Rome!” I mean, tens of thousands of people all around us at the Capitol and I actually ran into a friend, Susan Bossie, who was with her four children! Added to that, once Kathy and I were seated a few rows in back of Susan, two women came in and sit next to us and happened to be – I still can’t believe this! – two ladies I met in Rome at La Vittoria restaurant, fans of mine!  I don’t think even Las Vegas would want to place odds on that happening!


We were surrounded, as you’d imagine, by like-minded people at the inauguration – conservatives, Republicans who were pro-life and whose main concern (like mine) in this election was who the candidates would name to the Supreme Court and we knew Trump was our man in that respect, that he’d name people who would defend life, traditional marriage, religious freedom, etc.



There were mega screens placed all around the Capitol grounds and we could watch as senators, congressmen, justices, former presidents, etc. were shown arriving at the dais. Great applause greeted the Obamas and applause greeted the Clintons as well, with many people admiring the courage it must have taken for Hillary Clinton to be present. It honestly had to be a very difficult moment for her.

VIPS arrive:


Speakers for the most part were treated quite well but there were huge signs – what I called a ‘vocal wave’ – of negativity when Democratic Senator Schumer spoke as people shouted, “USA” and “We want Trump.”


Applause punctuated President Trump’s talk at many intervals – I’m sorry I did not count the times. Had I possessed a written copy of his talk, I’d have marked the specific spots where we applauded. If you wondered why you did not see tons of flags waving, they (like any pointed object) were prohibited at the venue. If people had flags to wave, they were not on a small pole or stick – they were simple banners.

Trump arrives on dais:


(It was interesting later that evening to hear and read media reports of his talk and its was, like, did they attend the same inaugural I did?

A light rain began as the president spoke but did not last long. No umbrellas, of course, but I had bought ponchos for Kathy and myself, as had thousands around us.

After the inaugural ceremony we took quite some time to make our way to the Canadian embassy as the ambassador was hosting a buffet lunch and viewing of the inaugural parade. The Gingriches had put our names on the guest list and we were treated royally. Viewing the parade from the embassy rooftop was a privileged spot indeed – and I understand this is the best place in town for July 4th fireworks!

We were greeted with a gift after we showed our ID and got our name badges – lovely, warm and much-needed red and white mittens with the Canadian maple leaf on them! As we left we also got a marvelous bag (aka swag?) filled with many gifts, typical Canadian products (except for bacon and maple syrup). Thank You and Merci Canada!

The parade started over an hour late and we watched just a small portion as we had to return to the hotel, have a bite to eat before the ball and then dress for that gala event. If the earlier part of the day was any sign of things to come, we knew it would take a lifetime to walk to a street with traffic, and thus find a taxi to take us home. As it was, walking was well over an hour and, all told, it took us 90 minutes to get to our hotel!

After a light dinner in the room and a brief period off our feet, we left the hotel at 8 for the Liberty Ball. That was probably the easiest of the three events to get to, even though security was massive because the president and vice president would be there, simply because we only had to walk about 3 blocks, instead of 6 or 8 or more.

As I said on one video I posted, we had a ball even though there was little dancing involved in the Liberty Ball. There was entertainment and people were there to see and be seen and to meet friends and that is mainly what we did – met a lot of friends and met new people as well. The Gingriches and Kathy and I were invited into the VIP section of the Ball (I actually thought everyone there was a VIP!) and that’s where I met some of the nation’s movers and shakers.

How many truly interesting, powerful people I met and spent time with, people whose names are often in the news and on TV and the front pages of the papers, and yet, as we spoke, they seemed like my next door neighbor, very down to earth individuals, people who love their country, concerned for the country’s future and their own, many with their kids or young teens in tow, most of whom wore their faith and patriotism on their sleeve. It was a remarkably heady evening!

Two very special moments occurred when two young men, at different times, came up to me and introduced themselves as “a great fan of EWTN and Joan’s Rome!” I mean, really, my fans in the midst of so many thousands of people!

The day ended with another miracle – a ride back to the hotel in a private car!



I have almost finished a column I planned to post today but have just learned that the room I am using at IWP as a temporary office is about to become a lecture hall so I will have to stop writing and uploading photos and post the entire column either later tonight (it is already after 6 pm) or tomorrow. The time consuming measure is preparing the photos. More later – stay tuned.

I have in recent cays posted a lot of Vatican and other news on my FB page (



Following is the message that Pope Francis sent yesterday to Donald Trump on the occasion of inauguration as president of the United States:

The Honorable Donald Trump
President of the United States of America
The White House

“Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office.

“At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding far-sighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.

“Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door.

“With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.





I arrived Washington, D.C. last evening to attend Friday’s inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a day of history in the making as this is the first time Americans have said ‘no’ to politicians who had been running for the highest office in the land and choose instead a political outsider.

I will leave political discourse to others at the moment. However, I will say that what was important for me this year as I listened to and studied the two candidates running for the presidency, was electing a person who, in addition to improving the economy and the reputation of the U.S. abroad, etc. would protect life, traditional marriage and religious freedom – values that have been under attack and eroded in recent years.

Number One on my list of priorities as I voted was who the two candidates would name as future justices for the Supreme Court – and that left me only one choice. I felt (feel) that we needed to replace the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia as fast as you can say his name and only one person would do that. And I will witness his inauguration Friday.

Hopefully, in coming days I’ll be able to bring you some of the upcoming events via radio, photos and Facebook postings, including Facebook Live. I’ll make sure everything is charged to 100% – cameras, cell phone, etc. including my small, portable charger.

A packet of materials including passes and tickets to events was in my hotel room when I checked in a few hours ago. I was thrilled beyond words as I studied each document, ticket, ID card, map, etc. Here are some photos (although I’ll only publish some IDs and tickets after the event – don’t want to give anyone the chance to make a copy).



We are in section Green 12:


Yesterday afternoon I took a shuttle from Dulles Airport to IWP, the Institute for World Politics where my friend Kathy Carroll works. I was her houseguest last night and will be again after the inauguration as I stay in D.C. to participate in the January 27 March for Life!

John Lenczowski, a friend as well as the founder and president of IWP, was just leaving the building as I arrived so we spoke briefly. As we were talking, sirens, many, many sirens, could be heard coming towards us on 16th Street. About a dozen or motorcycle cops and several police cars preceded a seven-car motorcade and that was followed by additional cars and motorcycles.  John wondered aloud if the motorcade was for a head of State – or perhaps even Trump.

Turned out it was indeed the president-elect! He was in town for a huge dinner attended by donors, diplomats and future White House staffers, among others.

This morning, as Kathy and I drove in to D.C. from Virginia, there were plenty of signs of the big events – lots of police and security, some barricades were already set up (for example, in front of the Trump International Hotel, although I later learned that those barriers have been there since the hotel was inaugurated this fall), color bunting on some buildings and hundreds of portable bathrooms. A number of roads downtown will be closed tomorrow to all traffic for several days. In addition, many offices will close tomorrow for half, perhaps even the whole, day while all offices in D.C. will close Friday.

Thousands upon thousands of security people, police officers, National Guard members, etc. are already hard at work to guarantee security, many uniformed and large numbers in plainclothes. Phone carriers have increased their potential by 400% in the area of the Capitol as they know everyone in the vicinity will use cameras, videos, cell phones, etc. Hope that works as promised!

I’m counting on a lot of walking as broad areas around major events will be closed and taxis, limos, etc can only take us to within a number of blocks of the event.

I will be on EWTN’s “Morning Glory” tomorrow in the 7:30 am slot so tune in for that as, whatever I have to share about these days, I’ll bring to you tomorrow! Hopefully I’ll have time to write a bit tomorrow but don’t expect much on Friday – will try to post photos and do Facebook Live.

Whatever your feelings about our future president, he will be our president as of noon Friday. We wish him well and will pray for him because where he succeeds, we succeed. If he is great and does great things, we too will be great!