Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) was elected barely a month after the outbreak of World War One in September 1914. He was revolted by what he described as 'the useless slaughter' which the First World War brought to Europe. Consequently, throughout the war he sought by means of Vatican diplomacy to bring the war to an end. His most spectacular initiative was the 'Peace Note' of August, 1917, in which he offered the warring powers six practical suggestions as the basis for peace negotiations. He was consequently deeply disappointed by the negative response of both sides in conflict. Nevertheless, he persisted in his peace-making efforts until the end of hostilities and brought humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of civilians and prisoners-of-war through papal relief agencies.
Bio: Dr. John Pollard is Emeritus Professor of History at Anglia Ruskin University and Fellow in History at Trinity Hall College in the University of Cambridge. He was awarded the Balsdon Fellow of the British School at Rome for 2013-2014. His teaching is in the area of twentieth century European history. His research interests lie in the History of Italy and the Papacy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, fascist and neo-fascist movements, and political and social Catholicism. In 1999, he published The Unknown Pope: Benedict XV and the Pursuit of Peace. His latest book, The Papacy in the Age of Totalitarianism, 1914-1958 will be published by Oxford University Press in the autumn of 2014.
About the B.K. Smith Lecture:
The family and friends of the late Benjamin Kopper Smith established the B.K. Smith Lecture in 1957. The series has brought distinguished scholars to the UST campus to lecture and hold informal discussions with students and faculty. B.K. Smith, a welding superintendent for the Pennsylvania Railroad, came to Texas in 1920 and founded the Big Three Welding and Equipment Company, which opened a Houston office in 1925. His contributions to Houston were many and he remained active until his death in 1948, a year after UST was founded.