On October 8, 1944, a 37-year-old Italian priest named Father Placido Cortese exits the Basilica of St. Antonio in Padua and gets into a waiting car, which then drives away. He is never seen again. Through extraordinary eyewitness accounts and official records, we learn about the young priest’s abduction by the Gestapo and of his refusal, in the face of brutal torture, to name his collaborators in saving hundreds of lives.
Father Placido Cortese was an unexpected hero in Italy during World War II. He could have chosen a simpler ministry of praying safely behind the walls of his church, remaining oblivious to the rising Nazi regime. Had he done this, his name would not be remembered today and the hundreds of men and women in Europe who he helped rescue would have become Nazi victims. Turning a blind eye to the enemy’s advancement was not an option for this physically unimpressive man of small stature who walked with a limp. What he lacked in physical strength, he more than made up for in spiritual and mental fortitude.Until his abduction by Nazi police in late 1944, he organized the rescue of hundreds of men and women throughout his area who the Nazis were seeking to capture. An undercover mission was formed by Father Cortese and several young people who chose to risk their lives to save others. He was a quiet man, a quality which proved to be his greatest asset. After his disappearance in October 1944, news came through other prisoners of war that despite the Nazi’s brutal efforts to make Father Cortese provide them with information, he did not break his silence. This extraordinary life of selfless courage is documented in “Father Placido Cortese: The Courage of Silence.” It is an honor for The Dove Foundation to recommend this historical and moving documentary to viewers ages 12 and up, awarding it the Dove “Faith Friendly” seal of approval!