Very rare passport for the Second Vatican Council

Nowadays, we see the frequent use of the wording “rare” and “very rare” just as an eyecatcher. I believe I use this wording carefully. Its use is definitely justified for this extraordinary Holy See passport issued in 1964 for the Second Vatican Council, where 2800 Bishops from all over the world participated in four sessions from October 11, 1962, until December 8, 1965. This passport was issued to Dino Radulfo Delgrange. I could not find any online data, but I contacted Father Richard Kunst, an expert in papal artifacts. However, it seems Delgrange was one of the auditors of the council. His passport says Auditor, not Father!  Passport Second Vatican Council

What I already found out during my research is that such a document is exceedingly rare. The papal collection of Father Richard has three such passports issued for participants of the II Vatican Council, and he stated he has never seen another in the last 25 years. Well, I hope he will reply to my request so he can also see mine, the fourth document known. Where are all the others? Destroyed? Returned or in archives? I am sure if in archives, then Father Richard would know.

Imagine! We are talking about the 1960s while Communist governments were at the height of their power. And so, the Vatican wanted to make sure it would secure the safety of all the bishops throughout the world. Many of them were traveling from Communist countries and other countries that maybe had political situations that were less stable. This passport was actually issued to ensure that he would have as safe travel as the Holy See as a State could grant.   Passport Second Vatican Council

The council was unique in that it went in and out of sessions throughout several years. Imagine the amount of traveling the bishops must have done, just going back and forth from their nations. It must have been not easy. Just think of how different travel was in the 1960s compared to today. And there were 4 sessions, so they went back and forth each time. It always began in the Fall and ended in December.   Passport Second Vatican Council

October 11, 1962, to December 8, 1962
September 29, 1963, to December 4, 1963
September 14, 1964, to November 21, 1964
September 14, 1965, to December 8, 1965

So as you can see, there was a lot of travel that these bishops had to do. The passports ensured their safety. This reminds us again of the universal nature of the Church. Over 2800 bishops from around the world participated in one or more sessions of the Second Vatican Council. These bishops from all over the world, from all nations, came together during that time. Their passports have several pages, and each of the pages says the same thing but in many different languages. For example,

Hamlet John Cicognani
Cardinal-Bishop of the Holy Roman Church
of the Title of the Suburban See of Frascati
Secretary of State
His Holiness Pope Paul VI

requests all Civil and Military Authorities to permit the bearer, who is one of the Fathers (Auditors) of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, freely to pass, and in case of need, to provide him with every opportune assistance and protection.   Passport Second Vatican Council

From the Vatican, 1964.


One of the about 50 passports issued for auditors for the Second Vatican Council in 1964

So we can see the English words right here requesting safe transport and safe travel. Of course, many of those bishops had to travel through several countries to get to Italy. So, they were crossing several borders, and that accounts for the number of languages.

Even though it’s not a military authority, we see the political authority–the Holy See authority to issue passports. Of course, you could have a country not recognize it or not even appreciate or honor it. But the fact that the Vatican, as a nation, can produce passports is quite an interesting thing considering that it’s the smallest country in the world.   Passport Second Vatican Council

Another interesting thing about this item is the coat of arms on the passport’s cover. It is that of Pope John XXIII who opened the Council. He died after the First Session.   Passport Second Vatican Council

So when we think about this Council, we think of the two popes, John XXIII and Paul VI. John XXIII called the Council, and he was the only Pope for one session. But Pope Paul VI was the pope for three of the sessions. So both are equally associated with the Council for those reasons. They are two very historically significant popes, due to the fact of the Council itself. Also, John XXIII was elected to be a ‘transitional pope,’ supposedly, because he was an older man. After a long pontificate, like Pius XII, who was Pope for 19 years, they thought they’d elected a transitional Pope. Instead, he was the Pope who called the Second Vatican Council.   Passport Second Vatican Council

The Auditors passport Second Vatican Council

Much has been written and is still being written as part of the Council’s commemoration, history, and development. An important but perhaps less known aspect con­cerns the experience of the lay auditors/guests. For the first time, their presence was something new: the laity was summoned to the Council as christifideles. Although laypeople sometimes participated in previous Councils, it was always as representatives of civic power. passport Second Vatican Council

So what do we know about this? The histor­ical archives of the Pontifical Council for the Laity contain documents that clarify some as­pects of the lay presence. Without claiming to offer exhaustive information, it is interesting to look again at some of the testimonies of that history which bore such fruit and continue to do so today.

During the first session of the Council, the only one presided over by Blessed John XXIII, there was a lay delegation at the opening session, but there were no lay auditors at the discussions: the only guest was Jean Guitton, the fa­mous French Catholic intellectual, along with the ecumenical delegates. Lay auditors started being invited at the second session presided over by Paul VI. In the initial stages, there were twelve guests, all-male. Apart from Guit­ton, these included Silvio Golzio (Italy), Mieczyslaw de Habicht (Poland), who was dele­gate for the auditors, and Vittorino Veronese (Italy), president of the first two world congress­es of lay Catholics.

The auditors took their places in the Basili­ca in a special tribune near Saint Andrew’s statue to the right of the presidential table. There were no specially assigned places. They had their own secretariat in Borgo Santo Spiri­to, near Saint Peter’s. This was run by several women engaged in the Lay Apos­tolate and who took turns in offering their serv­ices. This is why some people main­tained that women were “ on the threshold ” of the Council during the second session. During the third and fourth sessions, the group of audi­tors was extended to include both religious and laywomen. There were forty auditors at the third session, of whom 17 were women, while their number increased in the fourth session. passport Second Vatican Council

The following were among the auditors present at the third and fourth sessions: Eusèbe Adjakpley (Togo), José Alvarez Icaza (Mexico) with his wife Luz, Frank Duff (Ireland), Josè Maria Herandez (Philippines), Rosemary Goldie (Australia), Patrick Keegan (Great Britain), Marie­Louise Monnet (France), Mar­garita Moyano Llerena (Argentina), Gladys Parentelli (Uruguay), Bartolo Peres (Brazil), Anne­Marie Roeloffzen (Holland), Joan Vasquez (Argentina).

Another important contribution was the au­ditors work in the commissions and sub-commissions, which drafted the documents to be voted by the council fathers in the main Coun­cil Hall. Alongside the work of the experts, the contribution of the auditors was instrumental in the commission which prepared the draft on the lay apostolate, which eventually became the decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, as well as in the commission which prepared the draft on the Church in the modern world, the future Gaudium et Spes. passport Second Vatican Council

On some occasions, the auditors were also invited to speak during the conciliar assembly. During the second session, they in­tervened merely to express their gratitude for having been invited. During the third session, there was a first intervention on the lay aposto­late given in English on their behalf by Patrick Keegan, the English auditor. Later, Jean Guit­ton spoke at the end of the intervention on ecu­menism, Juan Vasquez on the draft on the Church in the modern world, while James Nor­ris spoke in Latin on poverty in the world. Dur­ing the fourth session, interventions were given by Eusèbe Adjakpley on missions and Vittorino Veronese at the closing of the Council, to thank the Council fathers. All the auditors agreed on the texts of the interven­tions. The wealth and depth of these testimonies can be measured first from the archival documents, which show their work and experience, and from the documents themselves, which in their final version contained the Second Vatican Council’s entire experience.
Source: Pontifical Council for the Laity passport Second Vatican Council

So we know now the function of these auditors, and we know that the number of auditors was about 50. 2800 Bishops and 50 auditors. Dino Radulfo Delgrange was one of them. Now, in my opinion, this makes this passport even more special! As Delgrange was only one of about 50 “ordinary” people, called auditors at the council.

A fantastic passport historical document of significance and I am happy to have it in my collection!