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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

Early in December 1914, Pope Benedict XV, elected to the Papacy only three months before, fervently sought a temporary silencing of the guns that had shattered Europe since August. Let “them fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang,” he urged the warring powers. Benedict’s plea fell on deaf ears, but informally, the spirit of the season managed to exert its power inexorably upon the already battle weary and homesick combatants. Notwithstanding the official government ruling, it would be up to those who bore the greatest burdens to decide whether a break from the fighting was warranted.

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