On 20 July 1937, Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937) passed away in Rome. He shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Braun (1850–1918) “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy.” N.B. Several other inventors have also been recognized for their work in the development of the radio with an unresolved claim to priority: Oliver Lodge (1851–1940), Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), Karl Ferdinand Braun (1850–1918), Alexander Stepanovich Popov (1859–1906), Fr. Roberto Landell de Moura (1861–1928), and Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858–1937).
As noted in his Nobel biography: “In 1931 Marconi began research into the propagation characteristics of still shorter waves, resulting in the opening in 1932 of the world’s first microwave radiotelephone link between the Vatican City and the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.” During this time, Marconi had the unique honor of overseeing the first radio broadcast of a pope. On 13 February 1931, Marconi introduced Pope Pius XI (1857–1939) with the following words:
“I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing. With the help of Almighty God, who allows the many mysterious forces of nature to be used by man, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will accord to the Faithful of all the world the consolation of hearing the voice of the Holy Father. Most Holy Father, the work that Your Holiness has deigned to entrust to me, I, today return to you… may you deign, Holy Father, to allow the entire world to hear your august words.”
His co-laureate, Karl Braun, had also interacted with his religious background during his development of radio technologies. “Besides undergoing conventional religious instruction — he had been confirmed in the Lutheran faith at 14 — the young boy acquired a Kantian conception of the world from his teacher” (Kurylo & Susskind, 1981). Later, he would undertake his first physics teaching job at St. Thomas Gymnasium, Leipzig (a Lutheran high school famous for its 18th century choirmaster, J.S. Bach).
—“Guglielmo Marconi – Biographical.” Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media.
—Kelly, Brian. “Vatican Radio, Guglielmo Marconi, and Now an Absorption.” Catholicism.org.
—Kurylo, Friedrich, & Charles Susskind. Ferdinand Braun, A Life of the Nobel Prizewinner and Inventor of the Cathode-Ray Oscilloscope. (Boston, MA: MIT Press, 1981), 7.