Vatican Radio to put voices of the popes in online archive

Pope Benedict XVI at end of Vespri mass at Basilica of Saint Paul Outside The Walls in Rome. January 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pope Benedict XVI's resignation speech is among the recordings

Audio recordings featuring the voices of popes from as far back as 1884 are being made available to the public in a new digital archive, the Vatican says.

The online collection consists of more than 8,000 recordings from Vatican Radio's pontifical archives.

It will take place in conjunction with the canonisation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII (1958-63) on 27 April.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the archive would help to preserve the recordings.

"This way, the popes remain among us thanks to their voices," he said.

Vatican Radio has been gathering recordings since it was set up under Pope Pius XI in 1931.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Pope Paul VI, pictured here in 1963 with then US President John Kennedy, is also in the archive

However, it also has older recordings such as Leo XIII's Humanum Genus encyclical which the pontiff recorded on a Dictaphone in 1884.

The archive, entitled Voices of the Popes, captures historic moments such as Pius XII's appeal in August 1939 on the eve of World War Two, saying: "The danger is imminent but there is still time. Nothing is lost with peace, all can be lost with war."

There is also John XXIII's impromptu 1962 "Speech to the Moon" in St Peter's Square where he told the gathered crowd: "When you head home, find your children. Hug and kiss your children and tell them 'This is the hug and kiss of the Pope'."

The archive also includes Paul VI's heart-felt words following the kidnap and murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro in May 1978 and John Paul II's emotionally charged attack in 1993 on the Mafia's "culture of death" following a spate of high-profile killings.

From more recent times is last year's resignation speech by Pope Benedict XVI where he said he "will simply be a pilgrim starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this Earth".

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