Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The Patriotic Priest Father Reginaldo Giuliani
Many of these war veterans tried to take it upon themselves to redress this injustice on their own by seizing on a particular port city and, by taking it, hopefully forcing the Italian government to take action in favor of their cause. This was the famous seizure of Fiume or ‘Fiume Exploit’, on the Dalmatian coast, led by the poet and war veteran Gabriele d’Annunzio. This was an historically Italian city (a long-time outpost of Venice) that had been part of Austria-Hungary during the war but which afterward was to be handed over to the newly contrived Kingdom of Yugoslavia rather than the Kingdom of Italy. Father Giuliani was part of this effort with what was called the “Catholic Legionnaires”. These men and the other legionnaires declared an Italian regency over the port which the international community tried to side-step by declaring it a “free city” that would belong to neither Italy nor Yugoslavia. The Italian Royal Navy moved in to end the regency by force in 1920, however, the enterprise made such an impression that several years later Fiume was finally annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
Over the next ten years, Father Giuliani did not have so high a profile. The Fascist regime busied itself with domestic issues dealing with the economy, industrial production, agricultural production, improvement of the national infrastructure and so on while Father Giuliani, of course, had his religious duties to attend to. However, he came back to prominence again with the outbreak of war with Ethiopia. Father Giuliani was an outspoken supporter of the war feeling that it was not only justified by the Ethiopian attack but hailing it as a Catholic crusade against heretics (presumably referring to the Copts) and heathens (presumably referring to the animists) to spread Roman civilization in eastern Africa. Once again, Father Giuliani rushed to the colors to enlist with the Royal Army as a field chaplain. He was assigned to the Eritrean Corps with the MVSN division of General Filippo Diamanti. Father Giuliani had lost none of his tenacity or courage and was persistently at the front with the troops. Finally, however, he paid the price when he was killed in action at the Battle of Warieu Pass (or Second Battle of Tembien). Father Giuliani was cut down by Ethiopian warriors while trying to come to the aid of wounded Italian soldiers. For his heroism and self-sacrifice he was posthumously awarded the gold medal for military valor.