According to some accounts, the seemingly indubitable William J. Donovan was on the verge of losing all credibility. His dreams of establishing a department of central intelligence nearly shattered by the inventive survival skills of Virgilio Scattolini, a reportedly repentant Italian pornographer turned journalist, who decided to enter the niche, but lucrative market of fake papal intelligence after getting fired from Vatican City’s daily publication, L’Osservatore Romano, due to his lurid past.
Donovan had recently returned from an audience with Pope Pius XII, who decorated the patrician dean of American intelligence with the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Sylvester, the Church’s highest commendation for the laity. The war was just then entering the critical final stage when Scattolini’s bogus transcripts of the Pope’s meetings with foreign envoys to the Vatican started crossing his desk, which he in turn, forwarded to President Roosevelt as the commander in chief was preparing to discuss the partition of Europe with Churchill and Stalin at Yalta.
Years later, Scattolini’s fabricated reports were deemed by the CIA to have contributed to “informing, misinforming, and thoroughly confusing those individuals responsible for analyzing Vatican foreign policy during the period involved”. Among those individuals was none other than superspook James Jesus Angleton, who was passing the faked intelligence on through a middleman codenamed VESSEL.
As Angleton went on to become the CIA’s counterintelligence chief, presiding over some of the most enduring myths of the Cold War and the Kennedy assassination, the VESSEL debacle was studiously ignored by the American intelligence community and the truth of the matter was never made entirely clear beyond one undeniable fact: The most powerful religious institution on earth does not divulge its secrets so easily, and cracking the locks of the Vatican’s vaults would require an existential threat to the Catholic Church.
– Bastard Lineage –
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – Erno Pajtás had grown up with Ferenc Szálasi, the besieged genocidal leader of the Arrow Cross party of Hungary, whose short and bloody reign – courtesy of the Wehrmacht –, was quickly coming to an end as the Red Army advanced on Budapest in the waning days of World War II. Before fleeing, Szálasi instructed his childhood friend and recently appointed Crown Guard commander to prepare the Holy Crown of Saint Stephen for its furtive journey to German territory.
First gifted by the Emperor of Byzantium to an early Hungarian king seeking official recognition for his domains, the relic would become the object of myth and legend when the first notions of the Holy Crown Doctrine emerged during the 14th century. Sacra Corona doctrine centered on the physical crown as the fulcrum of divine authority to rule over the kingdom of Hungary, bestowed by the Papacy as the ultimate intercessor between man and God, determining political power in the Marian nation for centuries.
Just two days after Szálasi’s puppet Nazi regime was inaugurated at the Royal Palace in an induction ceremony featuring the Holy Crown, clandestine arrangements were made to transport the bejeweled headpiece to the Sigmaringen Castle in Baden-Württemberg for safekeeping, bypassing the previous government’s plan to hand the crown over to the papal nuntius and hide it in a Benedictine monastery east of the Hungarian capital.
As Allied forces overwhelmed Hungary’s fascist army in April, 1945, Szálasi called an emergency meeting to set the plans in motion. Pajtás, in his capacity as Crown Guard commander, placed the Holy Crown, orb, scepter, and mantle in a strongbox, and loaded it onto a truck, which departed under the protection of twelve Crown Guards in a convoy that included members of the Arrow Cross government on their way to Germany and Switzerland.
Three days before the German High Command signed the terms of their unconditional surrender on May 7 in Reims, Pajtás and Szálasi’s Deputy Prime Minister, Jeno Szöllosi, were captured near the German border in Austria. Loyal to the bitter end, Pajtás had managed to transfer the strongbox’s contents into an army oil barrel and buried it before the Americans caught up with the convoy.
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