Vatican Spies

From the Second World War to Pope Francis

December 2024 9781911723400 384pp
Forthcoming Pre-order
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


‘Officially’ the Vatican has no espionage service; but does that mean that no one carries out intelligence operations on its behalf? During the Second World War and Cold War, Rome was awash with spies. In response, under the cover of the Secretariat of State, a band of monsignors and priests hunted for ‘moles’ spying on the Vatican, carried out clandestine diplomacy, investigated the assassination of priests and other scandals threatening the Church, and conducted high-risk missions across the Iron Curtain.

Drawing on the freshly released archives of foreign services that worked against or with the Holy See, Vatican Spies reveals eighty years of secret wars and dirty tricks. These include infiltrating Russian-speaking priests into the Soviet Union; secret negotiations between John XXIII and Khrushchev; the close relationship between Cardinal Montini—the future Paul VI—and the CIA; infiltration of the Vatican by the Eastern Bloc’s intelligence services; and the secret Vatican bank funds that were channelled first to fight communism in South America, then to support Solidarity in Poland.

Denoël also investigates the internecine struggles between the Jesuits and Opus Dei; and deciphers the machinations that marked the pontificate of Benedict XVI, which are still ongoing under Pope Francis today.


‘An impressive and rigorous narrative.’ — Le Figaro

‘This book finally reveals the secret service of the Vatican and uncovers some of its most relevant operations.’ — Le Point


Yvonnick Denoël is a French historian, publisher and intelligence specialist who has written on the CIA, Mossad, and espionage in the twentieth century. Vatican Spies has appeared in German and Italian translations.

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