We have been concentrating on the reaction in the international Jewish community; let us now return to the story of the victim, Edgardo Mortara. We left him as a young child, taken away from his family and raised by the Church. After years of receiving a Catholic education, at the age of fifteen he decided to become a priest and began his training.
Soon afterwards, he adopted the name Pius as his Christian name in honor of the Pope who had ‘saved’ him. Seven years later, he became a priest. His parents visited him only a few times during their lifetime. At all of his later meetings with them, Edgardo never stopped trying to convince them to convert to Catholicism. He became a tireless worker for Christianity and gained a reputation for saintliness. He lived his last years quietly in monasteries in France and - finally - in Belgium, where he died peacefully in April, 1940, at the age of 88 years.
One month after his death, the German Army marched into Belgium. Had Edgardo lived, he may well have finished his life, not peacefully as a Christian in his own bed, but violently in a Nazi death camp. Whatever he may have become for the Catholics - indeed, whatever he may have become in his own eyes - the Nazis would have considered him a Jew.