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Pope Benedict XV famously referred to as World War 1 as the “suicide of Europe”.

Pope Benedict XV was elected Pope only a few weeks after the start of the conflict. It was Sepetember 1914, and the war had been raging only since the end of July. In those heady days, when it was still a war of movement and counter moves, before the front stagnated into the horrors of trench warfare, the world still believed that this would be a short war. Most politicians and generals stated that the troops before Christmas. Few paid any attention to the pacifist warnings of the Pope.

The allies disdainfully rejected his efforts at peace mediation. The Italian government and pro-war press dismissed the Italian born Pope as unpatriotic. No one saw the disaster that was coming.

But Benedict was right. His reign began with the start of World War 1, and he lived long enough to see that the war was in fact the suicide of Europe. Nothing would ever be the same again. For good, and mostly for bad, the old order had been broken beyond repair.

The picture above shows allied soldiers making their way through an apocalyptic wasteland following a battle.