Irish prelate; philanthropist-humanitarian; author.
BOOK: Dedicated and signed copy of But For the Grace of God. Delacorte Press, 1965. Hardbound, 276 pgs., black and white illustrations. No dustjacket. Boards clean, spine tight.
At the outbreak of WWII, Abbing was working in the Vatican diplomatic service. As the fighting around Rome intensified, the Monsignor brought food and medicine to civilians in battle-affected areas, organized evacuations and set up hospitals and clinics. For his efforts, Italy honored Monsignor Abbiny with the Silver Medal for Military Valor.
Liberation brought an end to fighting but not starvation and homelessness. Both American and Italian officials recognized Abbing as a man capable of leading post-war relief efforts. He became President of the Italian National Medical Relief Commission and organized a vast aid plan to tackle the problems of malaria and vitamin deficiency. He also became Director of American Relief for Italy and set up a network which fed over 180,000 children.
With the blessing of Pius XII, Abbing established the Shoeshine Hotel in the basement of a war-damaged building around Rome's Termini train station. It provided shelter and food for hundreds of children. He then realized that besides food and shelter, youth needed to be given the opportunity to assume responsibility and gain self-confidence. The first Boys; Town was established in Civitavecchia in 1945 as a self-governing, democratic community complete with its own currency, elected officials, assemblies and courts.
In the post-war period Carroll-Abbing traveled throughout the US and organized volunteer committees which raised money to expand his efforts. By the end of the 1950s, there were eight other Boys' and Girls' Towns throughout Italy.
Monsignor Carroll-Abbing's efforts were recognized by humanitarian organizations around the world. He was honored with the Foreign Press Association's World Humanitarian Award in 1985. In 1987 he became the third non-Italian Honorary Citizen of Rome. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1988.
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