Pope Francis receives Polarquest delegation


May 2019

Airship Italia
Polarquest 2018


Today, May 22nd 2019, Pope Francis received a delegation from Polarquest, honouring their accomplishment as the first people to reach the crash point of the airship.


During their 2018 expedition, the Polarquest crew ventured into the Arctic to pay respects to the Airship ITALIA crew. They were the first people to visit the crash point, above the 81st parallel North of the Svalbard Archipelago, and held a memorial in honour of the missing crew members and left in memory a blessed wooden cross.  

Ceremony at the 81st parallel in honour of the Airship ITALIA crew.

The Polarquest delegation received by Pope Francis included Paola Catapano and Mike Struik, descendants of the Airship ITALIA crew members, Princess Elettra Marconi (daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio) and Prof. Massimo Inguscio (President of the CNR, who manages the Arctic research station “Dirigibile Italia” in Ny Alesund, Svalbard, where the mooring mast of the airship is still visible).

On behalf of Polarquest, Pino Biagi, descendant of the Italia radio operator, gave Pope Francis a photo from the memorial ceremony printed on wood.

Descendant Pino Biagi presents Pope Francis with a photo from the memorial ceremony. Image: Vatican Media

The Polarquest delegation in Piazza S. Pietro of the Vatican. Image: Mike Struik