Allen said in a statement that his maternal grandfather was a member of Italy's prominent Lumbroso Jewish family and was as a resistance fighter against the Nazis in North Africa during WWII, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
"I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian," Allen said. "And I embrace and take great pride in every aspect of my diverse heritage, including my Lumbroso family line's Jewish heritage, which I learned about from a recent magazine article and my mother confirmed."
The statement followed an exchange with a reporter during a debate with Democratic challenger James Webb.
The reporter had asked Allen if his mother's father was Jewish, and the Post said he became visibly upset and criticized the reporter for "making aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs."