January 25, 1904
During a two week trip to Italy, Theodor Herzl meets with Pope Pius X in an effort to gain his support for the Zionist cause. The meeting came two days after Herzl had met with Italian King Vittorio Emanuele III. While the King showed an interest in the Zionist movement and even revealed that one of his ancestors had been a co-conspirator of the false Messiah Shabbetai Zvi, the audience with the Pope Pius X did not gain his desired support.
The Pope explained to Herzl, “We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem – but we could never sanction it. The earth of Jerusalem, if it was not always holy, has been made holy by the life of Jesus Christ. I as head of the Church cannot possibly say otherwise. The Jews have not recognized our Lord; we therefore cannot recognize the Jewish people.”
Pope Pius X also told Herzl that if Jews settle in Palestine en masse that the Church would make sure that there were churches and priests there to baptize them.