Pope Pius XII
Image retrieved from wikipedia.org.
Driving around in a jeep painted with a beehive and the word “Deseret,” there’s no doubt Latter-day Saint chaplain Eldin Ricks stood out from other chaplains serving in WWII. While touring Italy following the war, Ricks met an old friend from BYU, Beth Davis, who was then working at the Vatican with the U.S. Mission to the Holy See. In a casual conversation, Ricks joked that he and his friend were going to meet with the Pope, having already planned to attend a public audience held by Pope Pius XII that day.
“Oh, would you like to see the Pope?” Davis asked (From the Battlefield to the Vatican to the Classroom: The Story of Eldin Ricks, Richard O Cowan). With those words, Ricks discovered that Davis and her supervisor could make such a meeting a reality.
The next afternoon, Chaplain Ricks and other Latter-day Saints sat in a private audience with Pope Pius XII. After receiving crucifixes and other mementos of their visit from the Pope, Ricks offered his own gift. All Ricks had at the time was a cheap GI version of the Book of Mormon, but he presented it to the Pope proudly, saying, “We too would like to leave a souvenir of our visit with you. We have visited St. Peter’s Cathedral, and there we see the treasures brought by the rulers and representatives of many nations. Our gift, by comparison, is of very little value in dollars and cents, but the message it contains is of infinite value” (From the Battlefield to the Vatican to the Classroom: The Story of Eldin Ricks, Richard O Cowan).