A supreme effort “In Signo Crucis”: Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII

by Julio Loredo


Habent sua fata libelli. Books have their own history. While some fall immediately into oblivion, others, launched by thumping advertising campaigns, become best sellers… only to be forgotten as soon as a new best seller appears as if by magic. Few are those destined to exert a profound and lasting influence on events.

To this last category belongs, without a doubt, the well-known essay Revolution and Counter-Revolution, a masterly synthesis of the thought of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, rightly qualified by a major Italian newspaper as “one of the main maître à penser of the right”. This book has formed successive generations of conservative Catholics in Italy and the world.

We can also include in this category the last work of the well-known Brazilian thinker and man of action, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII, of which we are celebrating the 30th anniversary. The famous canonist Fr. Anastasio Gutiérrez, one of the greatest professors of the Roman pontifical universities, wrote about it:

It is a work of a wisdom and equity of judgment that can hardly be matched by so many books which are excellent, if you will, but lack what we could call a great thinker’s charism of knowledge and experience.

Rome, Milan, Naples

The book was originally launched in Milan, on 15 October 1993, during the International Conference of European Nobility, in a crowded conference held in the Sala delle Colonne of Palazzo Serbelloni. The speakers, introduced by Count Carlo Emanuele Manfredi, reviewed the book’s main theses, insisting that a central aspect of today’s crisis is precisely the absence of the true elites, inevitably replaced by false ones.

A few days later, on 30 October, in the Sala del Baldacchino of Palazzo Pallavicini, in front of the Presidential Palace in Rome, the International Conference Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites was held. Among the guests of honour were Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler, Archduke Martin of Austria and Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies.

“The States-General of the Roman aristocracy in full”, headlined Il Tempo in breaking the news of the launch of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s book in the Eternal City. “In the name of the Pope King. From the drawing rooms the march on the Capitol”, headlined Repubblica instead. “We must understand the force of the appeal rising from the people”, said Prince Sforza Ruspoli in his conference, “the people want to see embodied the values of prayer, action, sacrifice, which our saintly ancestors, leaders and heroes testified to at the cost of their lives”.

The Roman and national media showed unprecedented interest. TG1 broadcast an extensive report with an articulate interview with Prince Ruspoli, while the red standard of TFP stood out in the background. Repubblica devoted no less than three articles to the conference, including a first-page headline.

“Rise and decline of the aristocracy. Brazilian professor theorises counterrevolution”, headlined instead the Giornale di Napoli, in giving the news of the book launch in that city. The conference, held at the Hotel Excelsior and chaired by Marquis Luigi Coda Nunziante, attracted the cream of the Neapolitan aristocracy. In the front row, Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies. The comment from Repubblica could not be missed: “Naples has never lost certain monarchical moods”

These were followed by other conferences in Palermo, Tolentino, Padua, Vicenza, Turin, Forlì, Florence, Genoa and other Italian cities.


Last June we commemorated the 80th anniversary of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s first book “In Defence of Catholic Action” (1943), a heartfelt cry in defence of the Holy Roman Church against the then incipient neo-modernist and socialist infiltrations. A loving plea in favour of the hierarchical constitution of the Mystical Body of Christ, threatened by the immanentist and egalitarian currents penetrating it. A fervent proclamation of fidelity to the perennial Magisterium of Rome, in contrast to the heretical currents that were beginning to raise their heads.

If there is one trait that defines the Brazilian leader, it is precisely his Catholic faith:

If you want to know me, if you want to follow me, try to understand how the spirit of the Church lives in my soul. I only ask one thing of you: try to see in me what I have that is Catholic, what exists of the Holy Church in me. Try to understand how this Baptism, which I received so many decades ago, has left its mark on me, has developed throughout my life. Try to understand how I belong to the Church, how my soul reflects the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church. Try to understand how I love this Church.

And now, in October, we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s last book Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites, a supreme effort undertaken “in signo Crucis” in view of the salvation of Christian Civilisation. Recalling an often neglected aspect of the Church’s Magisterium, the work intended to proclaim the legitimacy, indeed the fundamental sacredness of a hierarchically constituted society, rediscovering the role of elites, instilling in them the courage to reaffirm their traditional role of influence, all the more necessary in a world like today’s in the grip of ever-increasing chaos.

This sort of rainbow, from his first to his last book, encapsulates Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s two loves: the Holy Catholic Church and Christian Civilisation, two distinct realities but united by very deep bonds that make them almost the verse and reverse of the same coin. At bottom, one same love – the love of God – manifesting itself in two different, albeit interrelated, realms.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira described himself thus: “I am Catholic because I am monarchist, I am monarchist because I am Catholic”. The leitmotif of his intellectual life and of his apostolic endeavours was to study the foundations of a Christian Civilisation that would be minister to the Church, that is, serve as a pathway towards it:

Temporal society, willed by God, ordered by Him, carrying out in itself a work of sanctification, is a holy society, which has a sacred function. Society is completely natural as is family, but as it is worked in depth by the supernatural life that germinates in its members. A society as holy and sacred as the Christian family, to which the term ‘holy’ applies so well that even its constitutive bond is a Sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ himself. (…) We thus arrive at the notion of the temporal society as minister of the Church, which opens up broad perspectives for the notion of the simultaneously temporal and sacred society

Article first published on the Italian TFP website: https://www.atfp.it/novita/265…