Pope Pius IX

Orfeas Katsoulis | May 24, 2024

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Pope Pius IX (Senigallia, May 13, 1792 - Rome, Feb. 7, 1878) was the 255th bishop of Rome and pope of the Catholic Church from 1846 to 1878 and 164th and last ruler of the Papal States from 1846 to 1870. His pontificate of 31 years, 7 months and 23 days remains the longest in the history of the Catholic Church after that traditionally attributed to St. Peter. He was a Franciscan tertiary and was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.


Born May 13, 1792, in Senigallia as Giovanni Maria Battista Pietro Pellegrino Isidoro Mastai-Ferretti, he was the ninth child of Girolamo Benedetto Gaspare (a member of the family of Counts Mastai-Ferretti, 1750-1833) and Caterina Antonia Maddalena Solazzi. He was baptized on the same day of his birth in the city's cathedral by his uncle Canon Angelo Mastai Ferretti. He received confirmation on June 9, 1799 from Cardinal Bernardino Honorati, bishop of Senigallia, and first communion on February 2, 1803. He completed his classical studies at the famous Collegio dei Nobili in Volterra, directed by the Scolopian fathers, from 1803 to 1808; however, his studies were suspended because of sudden and repeated epileptic attacks, caused by a previous head injury sustained in a very serious accident in which he fell into a stream in October 1797.

During those years, he was often a guest in Mondolfo at the home of his sister, who had married a scion of the noble Giraldi della Rovere family, dabbling with good results in the game of armband ball along with other local boys. In 1812, illness caused him to be exempted from conscription in the Guardie d'onore of the Kingdom of Italy. From 1814 he was a guest in Rome of his uncle Paolino Mastai Ferretti, canon of St. Peter's, and here he continued his studies in philosophy and theology at the Collegio Romano. In 1815 he joined the Papal Noble Guard but, because of his illness, was soon discharged from it. Deeply embittered, on that occasion he met a young Vincenzo Pallotti who consoled him and vowed the papacy to him. That same year he went on pilgrimage to Loreto where he met Pope Pius VII who wanted to thank Our Lady for his own liberation from Napoleon. When the young Mastai Ferretti confided to him the illness that had besieged him for years, the pontiff told him, "We believe that this cruel evil will never torment you again"; indeed, after that visit with the pope, he had no more epileptic attacks and attributed his recovery to the grace he received from the Virgin of Loreto.

After the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, he returned to Rome in the retinue of Pius VII and attended the Roman University. During this time he was a seminarian and did his best at "Tata Giovanni," a hospice for abandoned boys who received an education, instruction and learned a trade. It was among these future carpenters, tailors, and shoemakers that he began his apostolate for the poor that would always mark him in his life.

Having recovered from his illness, he was able to continue his studies. On January 5, 1817 he took minor orders, on December 20, 1818 he was ordained subdeacon, and on March 6, 1819 deacon. On April 10, 1819 he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata, bishop of Senigallia. He celebrated his first mass the next day, Easter Day, in the church of "Tata Giovanni," St. Anna dei Falegnami, among its poor. He devoted himself to the apostolate in his hometown and simultaneously served as director of "Tata Giovanni," in Rome.

He declared that he did not want ecclesiastical offices and professed in the Third Franciscan Order, in the Roman church of St. Bonaventure on the Palatine where he retired to pray. Inside, a marble plaque commemorates the future pontiff's profession.

From July 1823 to June 1825, he was part, at the behest of Pope Pius VII, of a diplomatic mission to Chile, led by apostolic delegate Giovanni Muzi. It can thus be said that the future Pius IX was the first pope to set foot in the Americas. The mission arrived in Santiago, Chile, on March 5, 1824. Here, however, the delegation faced a harsh anticlerical government that opposed it by all means. During his stay in Chile Mastai Ferretti did his best for the sick and to administer the sacraments. He gave comfort and help to a Protestant British officer who was seriously ill. On October 19 the mission left Chile. The following month it arrived in Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. Here he stayed for two and a half months. He then left for Italy, where he arrived in June 1825. Mastai Ferretti stayed for a few months in his native Senigallia. Then Pope Leo XII commissioned him to direct the hospice of San Michele a Ripa, where the elderly, ex-meretricians and abandoned youth were cared for.

Archbishop of Spoleto

Despite his intention not to want any office, he was nevertheless appointed by the pope in 1827, at only 35 years of age, archbishop of Spoleto. He was consecrated June 3 by Cardinal Castiglioni, the future Pope Pius VIII, in the Roman church of San Pietro in Vincoli. In Spoleto he applied the experience of "Tata Giovanni" by founding a similar institute in this city as well. He showed rigor for religious discipline and much charity for the poor, going so far as to pawn his own furniture to help the most needy. During the insurrection of 1831 he was appointed extraordinary delegate of Spoleto and Rieti and by skillful mediation saved the city from unnecessary bloodshed. He persuaded the papal generals not to open fire and to the insurgents he granted, upon the laying down of arms, money and passports. This attitude of moderation helped, at the time of his election as pope, to make Italian patriots think that he was a man of liberal ideas and open to the national cause.

During that period he saved the life of 23-year-old Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, the future Napoleon III, who was about to be taken prisoner by the Austrians in Spoleto itself. On January 13, 1832, the city of Spoleto suffered a severe earthquake. Being a bishop he immediately directed aid, organizing a specific plan and going in person to the disaster sites. From then on he worked for reconstruction as quickly as possible, before the onset of winter, obtaining funds from Pope Gregory XVI.

Bishop of Imola and cardinal

In view of his successes in Umbria in 1832, Pope Gregory XVI sent him to the sanguine and rebellious Romagna, appointing him bishop of Imola. The future pontiff devoted himself to this new magisterium with particular commitment, so much so that his work was rewarded a few years later, when at the age of only forty-eight he was created cardinal-again by Gregory XVI-in the consistory of December 14, 1840.

The conclave of 1846

The conclave of 1846, which followed the death of Pope Gregory XVI, was the last one in which Italian cardinals had a preponderant weight on the College of Cardinals: in fact, the conclave began before the foreign cardinals could reach Rome, this was to prevent part of the population from becoming violent. The participants, only 50 cardinals out of the 62 eligible, were divided into two groups, one supporting Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini, former secretary of state during the pontificate of Gregory XVI, who held conservative views, and the other supporting the 50-year-old Cardinal Mastai Ferretti.

On the first ballot Lambruschini received 15 votes and Mastai 13; on the second ballot the latter received 17 votes. Not even forty-eight hours after the opening of the conclave, on the evening of June 16, on the fourth ballot, Mastai Ferretti received 36 votes, thus obtaining the majority needed to be elected pope., accepted the election and, in honor of his predecessor Pius VIII, took the name Pius IX.

Mastai's election came as a surprise to both Roman citizens and all of Europe. Citizens rejoiced because they remembered Mastai's years in the province, and nation-state officials were pleased since Mastai was considered a moderate and did not favor any particular nation. Even the French ambassador to Rome had to rejoice "The pope is stoned and liberal," while Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich said that the news of Mastai's election gave him "a lively and legitimate satisfaction.

The early years

On July 16, 1846, Pius IX took his first measure by granting amnesty for political offenses. It was customary at the time for the newly elected pontiff to grant indulgences for those who had committed crimes. All the cardinals except Luigi Lambruschini were in favor of the measure, while Chancellor Klemens von Metternich advised the pontiff to specify well to the people the difference he incurred between amnesty and pardon. The amnesties, from which state employees, officers and clergymen were excluded, totaled 894, of whom only 564 signed the pledge of allegiance. Along with the amnesty, rewards were also granted to those persons who distinguished themselves in the suppression of the Rimini riots of December 20, 1843 unleashed by San Marino liberals. This action by Pius IX gave him immediate popularity. Given also the fact that people recognized prelates even open to certain issues as liberals, Pius IX gained the reputation of "liberal pope."

In the early years of his pontificate he governed the Papal States with a progressive openness to the liberal demands of the population. This was the time of major reforms in the Papal State: the Consulta di Stato (established April 19, 1847), freedom to Jews, freedom of circulation of newspapers (March 15, 1847), the establishment of new savings banks (Cassa di Risparmio di Civitavecchia), combined with a moderation of preventive censorship, the beginning of railroads, and the establishment of the Municipality of Rome. He also promoted the establishment of a Customs League among the pre-unitary Italian states, which represented the most important political-diplomatic attempt of the time to achieve the unification of Italy by federal means. The establishment of the Civic Guard on July 5 caused the resignation of the Secretary of State, Tommaso Pasquale Gizzi, who had been opposed to the measure.

The first president of the Council was Cardinal Gabriele Ferretti. On July 5 he reconstituted the Civic Guard, which had been disbanded during the Napoleonic interlude.

On January 2, 1848, the new government was born, entrusted to Cardinal Giuseppe Bofondi, who came from circles with liberal sympathies and who opened, for the first time, the government to lay representatives (Giuseppe Pasolini Dall'Onda was entrusted with the delegation "for Commerce, Agriculture, Industry and Fine Arts").

The uprisings of 1848

On March 14, 1848, following the revolutionary uprisings that had swept across Europe since the beginning of the year, Pope Pius IX granted the constitution (Statuto Fondamentale pel Governo Temporale degli Stati della Chiesa), following the example of the ruler of the Two Sicilies. The Statute established two legislative chambers and opened the institutions (both legislative and executive) to the laity.

At the end of the same month, on the occasion of the Five Days of Milan strong pressure came to the pontiff to follow the example of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the King of Naples, who had sent their own troops to the front. Pius IX only allowed the establishment of an army of volunteers, with the sole mission of protecting the state's borders with the Lombardy-Venetia Kingdom (Austrian Empire). Two corps were formed: one, of regular soldiers, commanded by General Giovanni Durando (1804-1869) brother of General Giacomo Durando, the other of volunteers, commanded by General Andrea Ferrari. The Papal States found themselves effectively engaged in a war against Austria, a Catholic power, for Italian independence. On April 17 a commission of cardinals was convened to discuss the situation. The commission persuaded the Pope to withdraw his support for the coalition.

On April 29, 1848, Pius IX, in his allocution Non semel to the consistory of cardinals highlighted the particular position of the Pope who, as head of the universal Church and at the same time head of an Italian state, could not go to war against a Catholic kingdom: "Faithful to the obligations of our supreme apostolate, We embrace all countries, all peoples and nations in an instinctive feeling of paternal affection."

The outbreak of revolution

After the resignation of Prime Minister Odoardo Fabbri (Sept. 15), the pontiff appointed, having considered his qualities, Pellegrino Rossi, former minister of the interior and a staunch federalist, as his successor.

This act can be seen as an attempt on the part of the pontiff to seek a compromise with the revolutionary forces within the Papal States, as well as an attempt to continue the federative project begun with the Lega Doganale. Rossi's program sought to reconcile revolutionary demands on the one hand and papal requirements on the other, but the federalist project was opposed by those who wanted to unite Italy into a centralized state on the French model. Moreover, the fact that Rossi aimed for a confederation of states meant affirming the full autonomy of the Church state and remaining neutral in the event of a possible resumption of the war between Charles Albert and Leopold II against Radetzky's army.

In the new government, which took office on September 16, the positions were distributed as follows:

Within a few months, Rossi initiated the reorganization of Finance and the army. The Ministry of Arms was assigned to General Zucchi, who initiated the reorganization of the papal armed forces. Rossi, for his part, was engaged in the internal affairs of the state. The government planned new railroads and decided to connect by telegraph the cities of Civitavecchia, Rome, Ancona, Ferrara and Bologna.

On the morning of November 15, 1848, the day Parliament reopened, Rossi was stabbed on the steps of the Palazzo della Cancelleria; his murder was the beginning of the series of events that led to the proclamation of the Roman Republic. Subsequent investigations revealed that Rossi's death was allegedly decided by the Roman Carboneria, probably frightened by the possible success of Rossi's policies, and executed by Luigi Brunetti, one of the sons of Angelo Brunetti known as Ciceruacchio.

Abandonment of Rome (1848-49)

Following Rossi's assassination, the revolutionaries, led by Ciceruacchio, pretended to dictate conditions for the formation of the new government. Pius IX, not wanting to come to terms with them, but having realized that repressive action could have triggered a civil war, decided to leave Rome.

On Nov. 24, 1848, the pontiff left at night, dressed as a simple priest, with destination Gaeta, in the territory of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Invited by Louis Napoleon, at that time president of the newly established Second French Republic, to move to his nation, he preferred to remain on Italian soil. He made his reasons known in an Open Letter to his subjects and all men of good will, in which he stated:

While in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Pope first experienced a train ride on the Naples-Nocera line (Sept. 8, 1849) and visited the Pietrarsa railway workshops on Sept. 23, 1849.

On Oct. 8, 1849, Pope Pius IX and the Bourbon rulers visited the town of Pagani, the pope celebrated mass on that day and donated a gold ring to the saint's relic, for which occasion a commemorative column was erected in the square of the basilica of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

The Roman Republic, headed by the triumvirate composed of Giuseppe Mazzini, Aurelio Saffi and Carlo Armellini, despite its short life managed to enact a constitution, which nevertheless reserved ample guarantees for the Pontiff. Pius IX appealed to foreign powers to restore his temporal power. Bonaparte's Republican France responded: an expeditionary force of 7,000 soldiers under the command of General Oudinot was sent. On April 30, 1849, the French were defeated by Garibaldi at the Battle of Porta Cavalleggeri; however, the French, thanks to copious new reinforcements, were able to overcome the tenacious Roman resistance and breach the walls of the Janiculum Hill, conquering Rome on June 30, 1849 (which they entered on July 3). The pope planned a slow return to Rome. He stayed in Portici from September 7 until April 4, 1850. Then he set out, touching various locations in the state for eight days. He made his entrance into the Urbe on April 12, 1850. Cheered by the crowd, he headed to the Vatican, chosen as his new residence in place of the Quirinal.

The return to Rome

Pius IX, after an exile of seventeen months, followed up his return to Rome with a profound work of restoration, nullifying several acts of the Roman Republic: he abolished the Constitution, restored the death penalty that had been suppressed, had the statue erected in memory of Giordano Bruno taken down, and restored the isolation of the Jews in the Ghetto with related levies and prohibitions.

When Pius IX returned to Rome in 1850, the state situation had worsened: the budget showed a deficit of as much as two million scudi. The finances were close to collapse. The papal administration, having regained control of the economy, began a recovery effort that led in eight years to a balanced budget. The tax burden of citizens was far below the European average, which resulted in an influx of foreign residents to Rome, many of them non-Catholics, who created problems because their public worship was not permitted. The papacy responded with new consumption taxes on luxury items and beer, and an exemption from real estate taxes of low-cost housing for long-term residents. A problem after 1850 was the worthless currency introduced by the Republican revolutionary government in 1848 that was accepted and exchanged at a lower value by the papal treasury. Many criticisms of Pius IX's economic policies included the argument that the Pope maintained vast areas in Rome for agriculture and forestry at the expense of potential industrial development.

Pius IX then continued the reformist policy already implemented in the first two years of his pontificate: on August 14, 1850, with a law unique in Europe at the time, he established provisions for the entire Papal States for the protection and training of deaf-mutes, while on September 12, 1850, with a motu proprio, he reorganized the Council of State (which in the Statute appeared as a merely technical body), established a new Council of Finances and bestowed a new and broader amnesty.

The decade after 1850 saw steady economic growth in the Papal States, as in the rest of the Italian states. Agriculture was based on the cultivation of hemp and silk, which were exported in considerable quantities. All trade, domestic and foreign, benefited from the growth phase of the economy. Later Pius IX allocated investments to further the development of the state. Among the major public works begun or completed in the Church State in the mid-19th century were:

In January 1852 the Church State was the first in Italy, with Florence, Modena and Parma, to introduce the use of postage stamps. Data from the 1853 census showed that a population of 3,124,668 lived in an area of 41,295 km². The Papal State was the third largest Italian state by area and the second largest by population (after the Kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia).

In 1859, Pius IX ordered the creation of a unified penal code. He also ordered a reform of papal prisons and penal houses. The police were placed under the Secretary of State and received more authority and power contributing to a significant reduction in crime but also to accusations of partiality. Education was not compulsory in the Papal States and secondary education was largely in private hands or in the control of Catholic institutes and religious orders. During his pontificate, Pius IX undertook innovative efforts by creating new schools for the disabled and evening schools for people to improve their education after work. All-day schools for children were also erected, ensuring the care of children whose parents were absent during working hours. In academia, Pius IX increased the salaries of university staff and added geology, agricultural sciences, archaeology, astronomy and botany to the subjects taught. A new obstetrics clinic, several museums and an astronomical observatory were opened. Theology students underwent more rigorous training, and students from foreign countries received financial support.

Pius IX was a patron of the arts like most of his predecessors. He generously supported all expressions of art, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, goldsmithing, coppersmithing and more, and distributed numerous prizes to his representatives. Rome's two theaters were exempt from all papal censorship. Great efforts were undertaken to restore historic walls, fountains, roads, and bridges. He ordered the excavation of Roman sites, which led to many important discoveries. He ordered the strengthening of the Colosseum, which at that time was threatening to collapse. Large sums were spent on the discovery of Christian catacombs, for which Pius created a new archaeological commission in 1853. A great success during his pontificate were the discoveries of the catacombs of San Callisto, which included completely unknown tombs, texts and paintings. Outside Rome, Pius restored Etruscan and ancient Roman monuments in Perugia, Ostia, Benevento, Ancona, and Ravenna.

In the two decades preceding the annexation of the Papal State to the Kingdom of Italy, the reclamation works of the Roman Ager were largely completed and those related to the water network for meeting the drinking water needs of the inhabitants of Rome were begun, which, however, were not completed until after the city's union with the Italian state. During the same period, his commitment against the process of secularization taking place in the society of his time was notable. Pius IX signed bilateral treaties (concordats) with numerous European states: Russia (1847), Kingdom of Spain (1851), Grand Duchy of Baden (1853), Austrian Empire (Concordat of 1855), Kingdom of Portugal (1857), Kingdom of Württemberg (1857).

On December 8, 1854, he proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception with the bull Ineffabilis Deus, which was translated into 400 languages and dialects.

The Piedmont campaign of 1860 and the unification of Italy

Pius IX found himself managing the historical moment of the birth of a modern unitary nation-state in Italy as well. Within the borders of the Church State, the first cities to express impatience with papal rule were particularly those of the ancient Legations of Bologna, Ferrara, Forli, and Ravenna. In Romagna, Pius IX made the last visit of a Pope-Re in 1857: on that occasion, indeed, Pius IX donated a new altar to Forlì Cathedral, which is still in use today.

Numerous over the years were the insurrections, always repressed also thanks to the Austrians, until 1859, the year of the annexation of Romagna to the Kingdom of Sardinia. Stimulated by the example, Perugia also rose up, which established a provisional government on June 14, 1859. The papal legate returned to Rome and the Church State reacted harshly, ordering the repression of the uprisings and sending two thousand Swiss mercenaries commanded by Colonel Schmidt. Pius IX's secretary of state, Cardinal Antonelli, authorized through the prominister at Arms Luigi Mazio the repression and sacking of the city by Swiss troops sent to bring Perugia back under Church control: on June 20, 1859, these entered the city and slaughtered the rioters, sparing no women or children. The event went down in history as the "Perugia massacres." The foreign travelers present in the city, robbed, proceeded to warn the international press of the serious incident, corroborating even more in the eyes of European and U.S. citizens the cause of Italian unity. Following the recapture of Perugia, Pope Pius IX, in view of the success, promoted Colonel Schmidt to brigadier general. Cardinal Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci (future Pope Leo XIII) then solemnly celebrated the funerals of the fallen papal soldiers, with the inscription on the funeral bier: Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur ("Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord").

The fate of the Papal State appeared very critical, amid the disinterest of the Catholic powers of Europe. It was then that Pius IX's personal valet Monsignor Francis Xavier de Mérode, a former soldier of the French Foreign Legion who had become prominister of Arms of the Holy See, decided to appeal to General de Lamoricière to reorganize the papal army and take command of it. De Lamoricière accepted the proposal to command the papal army.

To increase the numbers, Lamoricière resorted to voluntary enlistment, appealing to Catholics in European states. Belgians and Frenchmen formed a battalion of Franco-Belgian marksmen under the orders of Viscount Louis de Becdelièvre, who was responsible for the uniform of the corps, inspired by that of the Zouaves but adapted to the temperature of Rome. The idea found support from Monsignor de Merode and the pope himself, so that these marksmen were called "Papal Zouaves" even before the official creation of the corps.

On September 18, 1860, following the Battle of Castelfidardo, Piedmontese troops defeated Swiss troops, conquering Marche and Umbria, which were then annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia following a plebiscite. The territory held by the Church was reduced to Latium alone. Victor Emmanuel II had pledged to the French emperor not to attack Rome, which was not involved in the 1860 campaign.

The 1960s

On March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in Turin. The following day, Pius IX expressed in an official address a timely reply to Victor Emmanuel: "For a long time it has been asked of the Supreme Pontiff that he be reconciled with progress and modern civilization. But how can such an agreement ever take place, when this modern civilization is the mother and propagator of endless errors and maxims opposed to the Catholic faith?" The Roman Question was born.

On May 14, 1863, he visited Frosinone.

In 1864 Pius IX had the brigand Carmine Crocco arrested, when he, after being defeated by Savoy troops, had fled to Rome to meet with him, mistakenly trusting in support from the Holy See, by virtue of its Bourbon legitimism, in an anti-Sabaudic perspective.

On December 8, 1864 Pope Pius IX published the encyclical Quanta cura and the Sillabo, a collection of eighty propositions considered by the Pope himself to be irreconcilable with the Catholic faith, divided into ten rubrics. On May 2, 1868 he approved the Society of Italian Catholic Youth, founded by Mario Fani and Giovanni Acquaderni on June 29, 1867.

On April 11, 1869, solemn celebrations were held throughout the Catholic world for his priestly jubilee, and on December 7, 1869, he opened the First Vatican Council. While temporal power was in crisis, just months after the breach of Porta Pia, Pius IX was concerned with reinvigorating spiritual power. The First Vatican Council led to the formulation of the dogma of the Pontiff's infallibility, clearly expressed in the dogmatic constitution Pastor Aeternus. This led to the schism between the Catholic Church and the Vetero-Catholics. German Joseph Hubert Reinkens had himself elected the first "Catholic bishop of the Vetero-Catholics." The Council continued until July 18, 1870 when it was suspended because of the Franco-Prussian War.

The taking of Rome

The clash with the newly established Kingdom of Italy reached its climax when in 1870, at the fall of Napoleon III, the troops of the Savoy entered Rome through the breach of Porta Pia, ending the temporal sovereignty of the popes and their power over Rome. King Victor Emmanuel II, after the battle of Sedan that had marked the defeat of Napoleon III, emperor of the French and protector of papal temporal power, sent a letter on Sept. 7, 1870, to all the European powers in which the reasons for the future seizure of Rome were set forth, while reaffirming the guarantees and protections to the person of the Supreme Pontiff. Among other things, he sent Count Ponza di San Martino, who arrived in Rome on September 9, to sound out tempers: he first spoke with Cardinal Antonelli, Secretary of State, and then with Pius IX. Both reiterated their position of non-acceptance of the inclusion of the Holy See's territories in the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. To the offers of the king's emissary the pontiff replied:

To Count Ponza of San Martino, bearer of that letter, Pius IX added, "I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet; but in reality I tell you that you will not enter Rome." In mid-September 1870, two divisions of the Italian army, under the command of Raffaele Cadorna, entered Latium and arrived under the Aurelian Wall on September 18. In view of the disparity of the forces on the field and considering the futility of an armed clash, the pontiff ordered the papal zouaves to make only formal opposition in order to avoid bloodshed and to make the violence they had suffered obvious in any case, with the intention "to open negotiations for surrender at the first cannon shots." On September 20 Rome was attacked and occupied. At the end of the fighting there were 49 casualties among the Savoy army and 19 among the Pontiffs.

The Pope retreated to the Vatican, refusing to recognize the new state and declaring himself a political prisoner. This situation, referred to as the Roman Question, persisted until the Lateran Pacts of 1929, signed in agreement with the Fascist government.

Consequently, Pius IX, on Sept. 10, 1874, promulgated the famous non expedit by which the participation of clergymen and Catholics in the political life of the newly formed Italian state, born out of a violent act against the Church state, was blatantly discouraged.

On May 13, 1871, the Guarentigie Law was promulgated, by which the Italian state unilaterally established the rights and duties of papal authority. On August 21, 1871 Pius IX wrote to King Victor Emmanuel II, expressing the reasons why he could not accept the law. Until his death, the pope continued to describe himself as a "prisoner of the Italian state."

Death and the translation of the body

Pope Pius IX died in Rome on Feb. 7, 1878 after repeating Parti o anima cristiana several times, kissing the Crucifix and the image of Our Lady. He was temporarily buried in the special "temporary loculus" of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

In his own will, the pontiff had designated the basilica of San Lorenzo al Verano as his final burial place. In July 1881, the transfer of the body took place. A public ceremony was organized, beginning at midnight between July 12 and 13, according to the custom of the time. Accompanying the pontiff's body along the streets thronged thousands of citizens. Numerous anticlerical elements prepared protest demonstrations. Although clashes were to be expected, no visible police deployment was organized. The Italian government was reluctant to organize an adequate security service in order, so it was argued, not to create the impression of a tribute to a figure who had delayed the Unification of Italy. On the other hand, ecclesiastical circles did not want to use Vatican security forces because it would have been an implicit recognition of the Guarentigie law that had established them.

The ceremony was interrupted by a group of anticlericals who attempted to take possession of the coffin, shouting "to the river the pig pope," attacking the funeral procession with stones and sticks with the obvious intent of throwing Pius IX's body into the Tiber. The faithful, except for a few animated ones, remained essentially passive. Only the prompt reaction of the police prevented serious incidents; reinforcements from the army were called in (the military, in fact, had been ordered to remain delivered to the barracks as a precautionary measure). Only after a few hours was the funeral procession able to resume its procession to San Lorenzo in relative peace.

The episode had international resonance: Italy appeared as a country where it was possible to attack a person even by outraging his mortal remains. There were political consequences: the prefect of Rome was removed from office, and the Depretis government had to answer numerous parliamentary questions about the affair. The Foreign Ministry sent a circular letter to the European monarchies explaining the origin of the clashes.

As a greater precaution to avoid further desecration, the body was placed not in the raised sarcophagus that had been prepared, but in a pit dug into the floor of the relevant chapel, not far from the monument, in a defiladed and inconspicuous position.

Pius IX liked to call himself a "country parish priest." In fact, his private life was conducted like that of a simple priest. He would rise at five o'clock in the morning and for an hour would remain in his room in prayer on a kneeler in front of a crucifix. He would celebrate Mass and then attend another one of thanksgiving, during which he would recite the canonical hours and prayers of piety with a little book that belonged to his mother. From her time at the College of the Piarists, she loved to pray by reciting the Crown of the Twelve Stars, a prayer composed by St. Joseph Calasanz in which one addresses Mary preserved from original sin.

After prayers he devoted himself to official audiences granted to both aristocrats and ordinary believers. Every Thursday he also received petitions from anyone and every 14th of the month he received everyone in public audience. At three o'clock in the afternoon he would finish the audiences and go to lunch. He did not want more than one shield a day to be consumed for his meals. After lunch he loved to take long walks or ride in a carriage around the city.

Back in the Quirinal he would read his correspondence and then recite Vespers. After dinner he would receive his confessor and retire to the private chapel to pray before the tabernacle. He often recalled the importance of praying to the Eucharistic Jesus, in whom one could confide everything.

To Prince Cavalletti, who intended to offer him as a token of devotion a pontifical chair of gold and diamonds and proposed the title of Pope Pius the Great, the Pope replied that he would use the money for the chair to ransom seminarians from military service and very humbly declined the honorific title, because he believed that all honors were reserved for the Lord.

It is said that, like his predecessor Gregory XVI, he had a devotion to the miraculous medal and used to keep it with him at all times.

The constitution Pastor Aeternus and the dogma of papal infallibility are considered by the Church to be the lintel of modern ecclesiological construction.

His attitude toward the achievements of technology was benevolent, so much so that in 1865 Pope Pius IX approved blessing formulas for the telegraph and railroads.

Governance of the universal church

During his pontificate, Pius IX erected 206 new dioceses and apostolic vicariates. He reconstituted the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem with jurisdiction over the united diocese of Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus (July 23, 1847). The pontiff restored the Catholic hierarchy in England (1850, Bull Universalis Ecclesiae). He appointed Nicholas Wiseman archbishop of Westminster. The pontiff also restored the normal hierarchy in the Netherlands (1853). Under his pontificate, thanks in part to developments in science and technology, the Church, from a collection of national hierarchies with limited contact with each other, became a truly universal (Catholic, literally) organization.

Pope Pius IX during his pontificate created 123 cardinals during 23 separate consistories.

Numerous were the beatifications (221) and canonizations (52) under the pontificate of Pius IX. An initial list includes, in 1867, St. Paul of the Cross (beatified in 1853) and the Spaniard Peter of Arbués (beatified by Alexander VII in 1662). Pius also in 1862 canonized the twenty-six Japanese Christians martyred in 1597 and beatified by Urban VIII in 1627, including Paul Miki.

Pius IX also proclaimed St. Joseph "patron of the universal Church" and conferred the title of Doctor of the Church on St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori.

The episcopal genealogy is:

Apostolic succession is:

On February 8, 1878, just 24 hours after the Pope's death, the Franciscan Third Order of Vienna expressed the wish, outside of officialdom, that "the Father of all Christendom could be beatified without any delay."

It was Pius X (1903-1914) the first pontiff to promote the preliminary inquiries into his reputation for sainthood, in 1904.

Formally, the cause for beatification did not begin until February 11, 1907. The process was conducted over a period of fifteen years, from 1907 to 1922, interviewing witnesses in Senigallia, Spoleto, Imola and, finally, Rome, Naples and Gaeta. A total of 243 testimonies were collected; the enormous material gathered then flowed into a ponderous miscellany of no less than 12 very large volumes, and in 1952 the Summarium of 1,159 pages was extracted, which, examined in every detail, led on December 7, 1954, to the decree for the introduction of the cause, that is, for the apostolic phase of the trial.

At least three decades elapsed, and on June 28, 1956, the first canonical recognition of the mortal remains of Pope Pius IX was carried out, which, however, was not the first exhumation (the burial had already been opened at least twice, in 1883 and in the 1930s): the body was found blackened and mummified, but overall in good condition and still clad in the precious vestments used for the "kissing of the foot" and the funeral. The body was displayed in a publicly visible shrine in the basilica of San Lorenzo; the report of the event was written by Monsignor Carlo Liberati. The body was then reassembled in a new coffin, clothed in a choral robe donated by the reigning Pius XII, and retumed.

After four cardinals (Pietro Parente, Sergio Guerri, Umberto Mozzoni and Pietro Palazzini) forwarded a supplication to Pope Paul VI on Nov. 6, 1973, for him to order the resumption of the cause, the 13 objections that emerged during the preparatory sessions became known. The postulation then appointed a new Patron who, on Oct. 7, 1984, presented a response to each of the 13 objections, which was judged by the commission for the cause of beatification to be exhaustive and unexceptionable, even on the methodological level, and on July 6, 1985, Pius IX was named venerable.

He was proclaimed blessed Sept. 3, 2000, by Pope John Paul II after the Catholic Church recognized the authenticity of the miracle obtained for Sister Marie-Thérèse de St-Paul following the intercession of Pius IX. The 37-year-old nun was suffering from a painful symptomatology that lasted 11 years due to the fracture of a kneecap with considerable diastasis of the fragments ab initio with pseudoarthrosis. The medical advisory appointed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which had been appointed to verify the compatibility of the event with the miraculous attestation, stated regarding the "mode of healing": "Disappearance of pain and improvement of the functionality of the limb suddenly occurred after about eleven years of persistence of the painful-functional symptomatology. Rapid, complete and lasting healing, which cannot be explained according to current medical knowledge." For the occasion, the body was further exhumed and, after undergoing conservation surgery (the 1956 reconnaissance had in fact worsened its condition) and a complete re-dressing (the choral robes were found lysis and with metal embroidery completely oxidized), it was placed in a glass urn for permanent display.

Critical historians accused Pius IX of Machiavellianism, ambiguity and cynicism by recalling the following events:

The pope is sovereign of the pontifical orders of the Holy See while the Grand Magistry of individual honors may be maintained directly by the pontiff or granted to a trusted person, usually a cardinal.

A municipality in the Brazilian state of Piauí was named after Pius IX: Pius IX.


  1. Pope Pius IX
  2. Papa Pio IX
  3. ^ Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanni maˈriːa maˈstai ferˈretti].
  4. ^ Copia archiviata (PDF), su pallotti-sac.org. URL consultato il 10 febbraio 2014 (archiviato dall'url originale il 22 febbraio 2014).
  5. ^ http://www.inghirami.it/Articoli_storici/Le_crisi_di_Pio_IX.pdf
  6. ^ a b Mino Martelli, Pio IX quando era vescovo d'Imola, Galeati, Imola 1978, pp. 56-57.
  7. Cesare Vimercati, Histoire de l'Italie en 1848-49, H. et C. Noblet, 1856, p. 96.
  8. Cesare Vimercati, Histoire de l'Italie en 1848-49, H. et C. Noblet, 1856, p. 332-333, 336.
  9. Voir Gérard Da Silva, L'Affaire Mortara et l'antisémitisme chrétien, Paris, Éditions Syllepse, 2008 (ISBN 978-2-84950-18-63).
  10. Il est ainsi qualifié de « pape réactionnaire » par la Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique : Volume 56, Université catholique de Louvain (1835-1969), p. 209. Voir aussi Pierre Milza et Serge Berstein, L'Italie, la papauté, 1870-1970, Masson éditeur, 1970, « Pie IX ou le refus du monde moderne ».
  11. Selon de Smedt, cité dans Renata Latala et Jacques Rime, Liberté religieuse et Église catholique: héritage et développements récents, Éditions Universitaires Fribourg, coll. « Studia Friburgensia », 2009 (ISBN 2827110547), p. 25.
  12. En español, para la pronunciación del ordinal IX se emplea "noveno" y "nono", siendo Pío Noveno o Pío Nono

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