80 Years of Vatican Radio, Pope Pius XI and Marconi . . . and Father Jozef Murgas?

February 12 was the 80th anniversary of the first radio broadcast of a pope from Vatican Radio. Pope Pius XI and the great inventor Guglielmo Marconi teamed up to create the new tool of evangelization that had the potential of reaching every nation on earth. Marconi personally introduced the first radio broadcast of a Pope, when he stood next to Pope Pius before the microphone and said: “With the help of God, who places so many mysterious forces of nature at man’s disposal, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will give to the faithful of the entire world the joy of listening to the voice of the Holy Father.” Pius XI then came to the microphone and addressed the universal Church and whoever else was in reach of his voice. The only problem was that unless the listener knew Latin he was not able to understand the Pope’s words on the momentous occasion.

Guglielmo Marconi, however, was not the first to make a wireless voice communication, although he is commonly credited with the invention of the radio. As a young scientist he received as a gift seventeen patents and all the research notes on wireless telegraphy from Father Jozef Murgas, who actually erected the first aerial radio station in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It was Father Murgas who succeeded in making the first wireless voice transmission. Murgas donated his work to the younger Marconi after he had exhausted all of his own funding.  However, the brilliant priest continued to benefit mankind (if not the aquarian species) with the invention of another gadget, the fishing reel. (This information was taken from Michael Foley’s book: Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday)

Catholic News Service reports: Eighty years ago, a persistent pope and a scientific pioneer teamed up to create Vatican Radio, launching an evangelization tool that reached virtually every corner of the globe. Read the full article here.