'Spare Rome' pleaded Pope in secret wartime letter to US President Roosevelt, which has emerged after 60 years

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A letter from wartime Pope Pius XII to American President Franklin Roosevelt asking him to spare Italy and Rome from bombing has emerged from a secret archive.

The letter has been kept hidden away for more than 60 years in the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus, a 128 year old American Catholic organisation.

Pope Pius wrote the letter in English at the end of August 1943 as the Allies surged up from the south of Italy towards Rome which had endured several bombing raids including one that had left more than 3,000 dead.

Marked personal and addressed to 'His Excellency Franklin Delano Roosevelt" it is a remarkable piece of history which has remained unseen for years.

In his impassioned plea Pope Pius wrote:'Of her (Italy) desire for peace and to be done with the war there can be no doubts...she finds herself shackled and quite without the necessary means of defending herself....

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