The Cylinder of Pope Leo XIII

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On the 5th of February 1903, Bettini recorded the voice of the Pope Leo XIII.  The front page of "La Domenica del Corriere", a Milano Sunday newspaper of March 29th shows the Pope recording.  We can notice that the drawing is an artistic one, as its author was probably not present during the scene.  The phonograph is cleverly hidden by the man in black suit and what can be seen of it does not correspond to any known machine (another picture showing an American recording Indians, but drawn in France, shows a Pathe phonograph, certainly not used in the States).  Two records were made and sold: the Ave Maria and the Pontifical Benediction (the one shown).  The cylinder is shorter than a Standard one and presented in a definitly  Pathe (shorter) box type (an average Pathe box is shown on the right).  White "De Luxe" boxes were also available.  The cylinder itself is hand engraved with the Bettini's signature.   At one end it is marked: "Propriete reservee dans tous pays -25- 1-Copyright-1" (Reserved property in all countries) and at the other one, in plus of the Bettini's signature, "Benediction donne(e) (with a French orthograph fault: the second "e" missing) par S. S. Leon XIII - 1  le 5 fevrier 1903" (Benediction given by H. S. Leo XIII).  The fact that there is a French orthograph mistake can make us think that Bettini, a new immigrant in France, has really engraved the cylinder.   It is said that Bettini was recording himself on some of his cylinders.

 

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Here is a more realistic print of a recording scene published in "The Graphic"of April 15, 1893 when the Pope recorded a first time for the people of the United States.

 

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French newspaper add with the mention of Bettini found in "La vie populaire" of June 26th 1903.

 

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In fact, these Bettini-Pathe cylinders were sold in the States by Columbia as shown above and below.

 

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Leo XIII was the first Pope to have his voice recorded on wax and sold, as the previous one died in 1878.  When Bettini decided to record him, it was the right time as he died a few months later, the same year.

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