January 11, 1930
King Boris III today had a private audience with Pope Pius XI at the Vatican, re-igniting rumors of a marriage with Princess Giovanna of Italy, reports the AP.
The main stumbling block to the marriage is religion. Princess Giovanna is Roman Catholic, and King Boris is a member of the Orthodox church. So far, the Pope has been reluctant to issue the "necessary dispensation" for the marriage because the king, according to the Bulgarian constitution, must be Orthodox. The Pope has not been able to obtain a written promise that Giovanna will remain Roman Catholic and that their children "would be brought up in the Catholic faith."
King Boris was originally baptised in the Roman Catholic faith. His mother, Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma "was most devoted to the Holy See." She had been born in Rome and was baptized by Pius IX. But King Ferdinand wished to have "a greater hold on the Bulgarian people," decided that his elder son would leave the Catholic church and become an Orthodox. Boris was only two years old at the time. Ferdinand wrote the ageing Leo XIII for consent, but the pope refused, and Ferdinand was excommunicated. Boris was baptized into the Orthodox church.
The Duchess of Aosta is to have said to have introduced Boris to Giovanna. She had several "vain attempts" to bring the two together, but finally, in the summer of 1926, both accepted invitations to stay with her at her villa on the southern shore of Lake Lugano. The Duchess introduced them as the Contessa di Bergamo and Count Rilsky, and "their identity was not revealed to each other until several days later."
After the visit was over, the duchess told King Victor Emanuel that she believed a match could be made between Giovanna and the king. Ferdinand's mother, Clementine of Orleans, was the duchess' great aunt.
An "intimate friend" of the King of Italy and the Pope was the late Cardinal Tosi, who interceded with the Pope, "asking him simply to have the Church ignore the point of discipline in regard to the faith of the first-born son," in order to conform to Bulgarian's constitution. The Pontiff turned over the matter to the Supreme Tribunal della Segnature to deal with the matter, while Boris appealed to Bulgaria's synod of Bishops to see if a "potential heir" could be raised in another faith. In April 1929, the Papal Supreme court decided that, "as the first male offspring of the contemplated marriage would be the King of a nation, the matter of church discipline involved could not be waived. The Bulgarian synod responded that the article in the constitution that required the heir to Orthodox "could not be relinquished."