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Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX

Christened Frederick, [2] he was a younger brother of Duke Godfrey the Bearded of Lorraine, [3] and part of the Ardennes-Verdun dynasty that would play a prominent role in the politics of the period, which included their strong ties to the abbey of St. Vanne. [3]

Frederick, previously archdeacon of St. Lambert's Cathedral in Liège, [3] was appointed cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica by Pope Leo IX, and later raised to cardinal-presbyter of San Crisogono by Pope Victor II. [4] In 1054, he discharged the function of one of three papal legates at Constantinople, participating in the events that led to the East-West Schism. [5] In 1057, he was appointed abbot of Monte Cassino. [6]

On 3 August 1057, five days after the death of Pope Victor II, Frederick was chosen to become the new pope. He took the name Stephen IX. [7] As pope, he enforced the policies of the Gregorian Reform as to clerical celibacy. In regional politics, he was planning for the expulsion of the Normans from southern Italy, and in order to achieve that he decided, at the beginning of 1058, to send a delegation to the new Byzantine Emperor Isaac I Komnenos (1057-1059). Papal delegates departed from Rome, but when they reached Byzantine held Bari, news came that Stephen IX has died, and the mission was abandoned. [6]

At the beginning of 1058, Stephen IX was planning the elevation of his brother to the imperial throne when he was seized by a severe illness. After a partial recovery, Stephen IX died at Florence on 29 March 1058. He is considered by the modern Catholic Church to have been succeeded by Nicholas II, though others consider his successor to be Benedict X, now officially regarded as an antipope.

Pope Pius IX

Shortly before the joint beatification of Pope John XXIII and Pope Pius IX on September 3, 2000, Catholic News Service published a story contrasting popular reaction to the two men. 1 The report noted Italian television specials planned on Pope John XXIII, gift shops crowded with holy cards, books and videos on his life, and pilgrims still flocking to his tomb. This was contrasted with virtual silence over Pope Pius IX, whose tomb at the Basilica of St. Lawrence was closed to the public as workers wrestled with a drainage problem.

Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) remains Papa Giovanni in the public imagination. Though pope for only five years (he was elected as an “interim” pontiff at the age of 77), he is recalled as the pope who convened the Second Vatican Council. His encyclicals Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris were considered landmarks in the development of modern Catholic social doctrine. On the popular level, he is remembered as much for his approachable demeanor and down-to-earth spirituality after the seemingly esthetic, mystical later years of his predecessor, Pius XII. The pope of ecumenism, John XXIII’s popularity extended well into the non-Catholic world and Time magazine named him its “Man of the Year” in 1962.

Pope Pius IX is a man of another century. He served as pope from 1846 to 1878, the longest and one of the most difficult pontificates in history. (St. Peter’s pontificate was traditionally listed as 25 years and, until Pius IX, it was assumed that no pope would ever reign longer than the first pontiff.) He was immensely popular in his own times throughout much of the Catholic world, though certainly not in the leadership of the burgeoning 19th century republics or in radical circles. He was the first public pope of the modern era.

Pope Pius IX, or Pio Nono, as he was both affectionately and not so affectionately called in Italian, has been treated less kindly by the world. Though Pope John XXIII himself spoke well of Pius IX and reinvigorated the investigation of his possible canonization, 2 the popular portrait of his papacy has him as a diehard reactionary adverse to the modern world. He is pictured as interested only in amassing papal power, and through the First Vatican Council he substituted a definition of papal infallibility for the loss of the papacy’s temporal kingdom in the nineteenth-century creation of the Italian State. He is seen as an anti-Semite who collaborated in the kidnapping and forced conversion of a Jewish child, with the dark hint of a papacy that helped generate the mindset in Catholic Europe that would lead to the Holocaust. Finally, he was the enemy of the freedoms of the modern world through his infamous Syllabus of Errors that condemned all that was right in modern thinking. This image of Pius IX persists. It is certainly encouraged within certain Catholic circles that have never forgiven the First Vatican Council’s definition of papal infallibility. They create an image of Pius IX forcing such a definition on an unwilling hierarchy. 3

Beatification and canonization in the Church involve judgments of sanctity on the merits and holiness of an individual’s life. The reasons for the beatification of Pope Pius IX certainly center on those aspects of his life, not necessarily on the impact or results of the policies of his papacy. Yet, various pundits have put forward their own explanations of his beatification by Pope John Paul II. These range from an attempt to balance an allegedly “liberal” Pope John XXIII with the caricature of a “conservative” Pius IX, as well as the more realistic view of connecting the popes of the First and Second Vatican Councils. In any case, the alleged purpose of his beatification beyond recognition of his own personal sanctity is simply conjecture. What is of concern, however, are the historical caricatures created of Pope Pius IX. Painting Pius as the anti-Semitic enemy of freedom interested only in exercising power over lives fits a portrait of Catholicism common in the bitterly anti-Catholic world of 19th century Europe and America. The caricature also fits comfortably with contemporary anti-Catholic sentiment. Yet, Pius IX and his world -- as well as his reaction to it --are far more complicated than the secularized propaganda that greeted his beatification.

Though Pope Pius IX would serve for 32 years, the modern caricature of his papacy surrounds four events: his resistance to Italian unification and political trends in 19th century Europe the Syllabus of Errors that appeared to set the Church squarely against democratic ideals the “kidnapping” of Edgardo Mortara, a Jewish child taken from his family by authorities after his Christian baptism was discovered and the definition of the doctrine of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council of 1870. It is these events that bear closer inspection, while keeping in mind the larger agenda of a pontificate that would see the Church reborn and revitalized after it appeared to be virtually destroyed at the beginning of the century.

The future Pope Pius IX was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti in Senagallia in the Papal States, the ninth child of a minor count in 1792. He was born into a troubled world. Before he had reached the age of 21, French authorities imprisoned two popes and, without the bravery of those popes, the Church would have become an effective puppet of France. The Church in revolutionary France had been virtually destroyed and the old Catholic dynasties of Europe seemed destined to collapse.

In 1797, Pope Pius VI was forced by the French to accept the virtual destruction of the Papal States, the “patrimony of St. Peter” that the popes had ruled for over a thousand years. After a riot broke out over the planting of “Liberty Trees” around Rome, French troops entered the city and Pius VI, terminally ill, was carted off as a prisoner. He died under French imprisonment in August 1799. His successor faired no better. Pope Pius VII had returned to Rome when Napoleon had assumed complete power and appeared to moderate his position against the Church. He concluded an agreement with Pius over the reconstruction of the French hierarchy. Pius VII was forced to take part in Napoleon’s self-coronation as emperor in 1804.

Within a short time, however, Napoleon’s desire to become “King of All Italy” and to secure the Pope’s alliance in his war against the allies led to French occupation of Rome and cannons aimed at the papal residence. In July 1808, like his predecessor, Pope Pius VII was arrested by French troops when he refused to abdicate as sovereign of the Papal States. He would live as a monk (he had been a Benedictine monk prior to his election) in the episcopal residence at Savona for four years before being forced to France in 1812. He was unable to exercise any authority and on more than one occasion, came close to virtually surrendering his authority over the Church to the whim of the Emperor. But with Napoleon’s defeat, Pius returned to Rome on March 24, 1814, welcomed as a living martyr. 4

Before Giovanni Mastai-Ferretti had been ordained a priest in 1819, two popes had been imprisoned and the Church in Europe nearly destroyed by the revolutionary movements and nationalist fervor that swept out of France and across the continent. At age 15, the young man had begun to suffer from epileptic seizures and he needed a special episcopal dispensation before ordination. It required that he not celebrate Mass without the assistance of another priest. However, his career soon progressed rapidly. He was assigned to the papal diplomatic corps (he would serve for a time in Chile) and in 1827 became archbishop of Spoleto and, in 1832, bishop of Imola near Bologna.

The Church had been dramatically affected by the chaos of the French Revolution and its Napoleonic aftermath. The seizure and restoration of the Papal States had a strong impact on how the Church viewed itself and what was necessary for it to continue its mission in the 19th century. The Papal States were lands in Italy directly ruled by the Holy See, stretching back over the centuries. Though tradition held that they came by donation of the Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century, they can directly be traced to the Donation of Pepin in 756. Varying in size, but always centered in Rome, the Papal States were ruled directly by the Pope as a temporal sovereign. Napoleon had annexed the Papal States to the French Empire in 1809. The reconstruction of Europe at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 restored the Papal States.

The surrender of the Papal States by Pius VII and his virtual incarceration by Napoleon reinforced in the Church the vital need for the pope to maintain his position as a temporal ruler. Without the Papal States, the Emperor dominated Pius and his spiritual authority compromised. It became clear to the Church at the time what history appeared to teach: without the Papal States, the pope could become merely a pawn of whatever European ruler dominated at any given point. The pope should be a citizen of no country and not subject to the laws of individual rulers. Free exercise of the papal ministry was equated with the freedom guaranteed by being a temporal ruler subject to no other ruler or nation. “On the lips of Napoleon the call for the Pope to lay down his temporal sovereignty and to rely on spiritual authority had been blatant code for the enslavement of the papacy to French imperial ambitions. Without his temporal power, Pius VII…had come within a whisker of signing away his spiritual authority. If the Pope did not remain a temporal king, then it seemed he could no longer be the Church’s chief bishop.” 5 That firm belief was central to Church’s understanding from 1814 on. But it would directly clash with the movement for Italian unification as a nation-state. The Papal States cut Italy in half and was centered in Rome, Italy’s most important and historic city.

While the Church struggled to rebuild after the devastation of the Napoleonic wars, the restoration of the monarchies established by the Congress of Vienna would prove a chimera. A new world was emerging where national identity -- rather than identity with ancient royal houses -- would become a driving forced in both politics and how people thought of themselves. It was an era when racial identity, and racism, became a growing and dangerous part of “modern” thinking. This new “racialism” would underlie many of the tragedies that would be faced by Giovanni Mastai-Ferretti when elected pope in 1846.

The two major predecessors of Pio Nono, Pope Leo XII (1823-1829) and Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) 6 faced this new world sternly. Pope Leo worked diligently -- some would say harshly -- to reestablish firm control over the Papal States. Pope Leo re-instituted difficult rules against Jews living in the Papal States and followed a diplomatic policy that supported the royal houses of Europe. It was this seeming alliance between “throne and altar” in an age where there were growing movements toward more representative forms of government that was be a difficult inheritance for Pius IX. Pope Gregory would carry this policy so far that he condemned a Polish Catholic uprising against the Russian Czar who viciously persecuted the Polish Church. Facing rebellions in his own Papal States, Gregory would not consider compromising to the principle of revolution.

At the same time, however, the severity of what the Church faced must be understood. The new, “liberal” regimes that would arise in Europe were not as we might picture them. The separation of Church and State, for example, was not a constitutional prescription for both to operate independently of each other. It meant, instead, that the Church would be dominated by the new regimes. Church property was confiscated, religious orders suppressed, the Church banned from education. The government would determine Church appointments and anti-clerical legislation would be widespread. Papal authority to work with the bishops within the nation states would be severely limited, and government permission was needed -- and routinely denied -- for the publication of papal edicts and encyclicals. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, Pope Gregory confronted over and over again governmental attempts to limit and suppress Church life. As will be seen in the section on papal infallibility, pressure for a clearer definition came from many bishops who had seen the papacy as their means of protection against state persecution and control.

At the very beginning of his pontificate, Pope Gregory had made what would be seen as a disastrous decision. Gregory had needed to call on the assistance of Austrian troops in the summer of 1831. The 1830 revolution in France overthrew the Bourbon monarchy reestablished at the Congress of Vienna and replaced it with the so-called “Citizen King,” Louis Phillippe, who would rule until overthrown in the revolution of 1848 that would return a Bonaparte to power. This sparked uprisings in Italy where there was growing popular movement for a unified Italian state. It was the birth of the risorgimento, the Italian reunification movement. Within weeks of Gregory’s election, rebels controlled many cities throughout the Papal States. He called on the Austrian government to help suppress the rebellion. “It was a fateful moment for the papacy, in which it threw its lot in with the big battalions, against a growing Italian desire for liberty and self-determination. The aftermath in the Papal States was disastrous. The papal prisons filled up, and exiles schooled Europe in anti-papalism.” 7 Gregory’s rule of the Papal States, protected and propped up by foreign troops, was hated in Italy and became a symbol in Europe -- unfairly when compared to most contemporary governments -- of the worst in reactionary authority.

This was the legacy that would be inherited by Pope Pius IX: a commitment of the Church to the Papal States as the only means to assure the freedom of the popes to spiritually rule the Church a rise in nationalism and racialism as the dominant aspects of European life a growing reliance on papal authority as the only means to protect the Church from the anti-Catholic repression of the new “liberal” states and an unfortunate reliance on foreign troops to maintain papal authority within the Papal States, forcing the pope to be seen as a hindrance to Italian dreams of unification.

Pope Pius IX, Nationalism and the Italian Risorgimento

When Pope Pius IX was elected at the surprisingly young age of 54 the more conservative forces in Europe shuddered. At first glance, he appeared to be sympathetic to the new liberal nationalism. He was elected in only two days, one of the shortest conclaves in history. He was elected primarily by Italians, who made up 54 of the 62 cardinals. 8 The new pope immediately ordered amnesty for prisoners and exiles, most of whom had been had been revolutionaries. The new pope was hailed a “liberal,” and Europe proclaimed him a hero. In Italy and in certain Church intellectual circles, it had often been expressed that the pope could provide the monarchial leadership of a united Italy under a constitutional government. In Pius IX, many Italians felt they had found such a man.

It was a misreading of Pius that would help create an image of an early, “liberal” pope that would be replaced by a reactionary once he faced revolution in Rome. This is a common understanding in historical interpretation of his reign, but needs to be modified. In fact, Pius from his first days could not be defined politically. He was moderate, deeply spiritual, yet also a simple man. He would be known for a playful sense of humor (as well as a sharp temper), and had an almost naïve, caring soul. Even when his temper gained the best of him, he did not bear grudges and was almost always self-effacing and apologetic at the next meeting with those who had generated his anger. Even his most strident enemies, once having met him, uniformly praised his charm, spirituality and simplicity. Most important, he was completely and totally a man of the Church who saw God’s providence in all the events of his reign. Even in the loss of the Rome and the Papal States he would see the mysterious action of God. Though certainly sympathetic early to Italian patriotic movements, his concern was with the Church and, through the Church, for the salvation of souls. Ascribing to Pius a consistent and driving political philosophy or a political agenda separate from the Church is to misunderstand the man. Even his loyalty to the Papal States was not a temporal matter. He saw his rule as part of the Patrimony of Peter and as an absolute necessity for the spiritual independence of the Church.

Pius IX began rudimentary representative political reforms in the Papal States. He removed many of the restrictions on Jews and tore open the gates of the Jewish ghetto in Rome. In 1847, he demanded that the Austrians withdraw from a border city within the Papal States. When the Austrians withdrew, he was seen as a hero to Italian patriots. (It is said that the revolutionary Garibaldi, living in Brazil, offered his service to the papal representative upon hearing the news.) More and more, Italian patriots came to believe that unification could be had by throwing the Austrians out of Italy, overthrowing the “foreign rulers,” and establishing Pope Pius IX as a constitutional monarch.

In the year 1848, revolutions swept Europe. Louis Phillippe lost his throne in France and rulers throughout the states of Germany faced uprisings. In Austria, the architect of the Europe that arose from the Congress of Vienna, Chancellor Metternich, was overthrown. In a short time, Italy was in flames. Pius IX had instituted reforms in the government of the Papal States that were promising, and in 1848 he established elected municipal government in Rome. But the fear remained that whatever happened, revolutions in Italy would be squelched by Austrian or French troops. When war broke out in northern Italy against the Austrians, it was hoped that the Pope would order papal troops to join the battle. He did not. Instead, on April 29, 1848, he announced that he could not send men to war on a Catholic nation. He renounced any tactic to name him king of a unified Italy, and called for an end to violent revolution. Throughout Italy, it was believed that the Pope had abandoned the cause of liberty.

Pius struggled over the next few months to maintain the integrity -- and neutrality -- of the Papal States against the Austrian army, while keeping civil peace within the Papal States. Rome itself was seething with violence and potential revolution. Pius appointed Pelligrino Rossi to be his prime minister in September. Rossi “cleansed the police force of unreliable men, ordered an army battalion out of Rome, protected the Jews in the old ghetto who were at risk from the mob, brought in a strong force of police from outside Rome, and ejected to Naples a couple of well-known revolutionaries…” 9 He hoped to counter the king of Piedmont in northern Italy who was making strong moves to head up a federated Italian state. He cleaned up the streets of Rome and made them safe. He gave all the appearances of a man putting down a rebellion. He was. And on November 15th he was stabbed to death.

Mob violence exploded in Rome. Outside the papal residence, the Quirinal palace, a mob demanded a new government, and a monsignor standing next to the Pope was killed by gunfire. When a revolutionary government was forced on the Pope, he decided to flee Rome and went to Gaeta under the protection of King Ferdinand of Naples. In Rome, the revolutionary government attempted to secure the Pope’s return but could not guarantee his freedom to reign over the Church, let alone the Papal States. The Roman rebellion turned ugly and though the new government attempted to restrain the mobs, priests were killed and churches desecrated. Five bishops were arrested and the government took over Church property. However, the revolts throughout Italy began to collapse under the crush of Austrian troops. At that point, the French, now under the dictatorship of Louis Napoleon, deemed it wise to invade Rome and restore order, rather than see the Austrians occupy the city. Nine months later, on April 12, 1850, the Pope returned. He abandoned the Quirinal for the Vatican, a symbolic move from the palace of his temporal authority to the home of his spiritual authority. For 20 years, Pope Pius IX would retain temporal power but solely through the occupation of Austrian and French troops in Rome.

It was certainly true that Pope Pius became far less sympathetic to the cause of Italian unification after 1848. Wherever revolutions occurred, widespread violence and attacks on the Church took place. He had been shown clearly what revolution meant in this period of European history, with a priest shot dead next to him. The revolutionary Roman government was decidedly opposed to the Church and vowed to eliminate the Catholic impact on civil society. Pius had seen revolution and found it dangerous.

In the three decades of his papacy, Pius IX would develop an enormous personal following among Catholics worldwide. The Church was growing rapidly, particularly outside the chaos of continental Europe. The internationalization of the Church expanded as it never had before. And Pius was its leading public figure, not because of his political savvy but rather the strength of his faith and how well it resonated with the world’s Catholics. “The strength of the authority of Pope Pius IX in the Catholic Church lay not in the crowned heads, nor in the need of clergy under pressure from governments to appeal to Rome for help, nor in better communications, nor even, in the world-wide sense in Catholicism, that the Pope was in danger of persecution in the modern world…Pius IX shared the people’s affection for a warmth of devotion, for the cults of the Blessed Virgin and the Sacred Heart, and the coming forms of eucharistic devotion. He was a religious man and a pastor by instinct, not at all a politician. The development of the Churches in Europe during the next three decades elicited all the priestly side of him, so that his personal influence upon the Catholic Church became greater than any of his predecessors…” 10

After the revolutions of 1848 and 1849 and their suppression, Piedmont -- with a constitutional government under the monarchy -- became the hope for Italian unification by driving out the Austrians and taking over the Papal States. It became the darling of liberal and Protestant Europe, while the Papal States were tarred as a medieval throwback destined for the dustbin of history. Piedmont would launch a series of anti-Catholic legislative acts to prove its stripes in Europe and to maintain support toward its goal of assuming the leadership of the entire peninsula. Under the brilliant leadership of Count Camillo di Cavour, a consistent publicity campaign to undermine the credibility of papal rule was undertaken worldwide. The spreading impact of newspapers on the rising middle classes would be a tremendous source in undermining his reputation in Europe and America in particular. Newspapers of this era were little more than hysterical propaganda sheets, as this was long before there existed even the slightest commitment to objectivity and balance. (It would be an important concept to remember when the Syllabus of Errors would condemn the concept of freedom of the press. This was a reaction not to objective and responsible journalism, but rather to the concept of hate literature and irresponsible political propaganda of which most newspapers thrived in that period.)

Pope Pius IX inadvertently fueled this hate campaign when he reestablished the British hierarchy in 1850. The Catholic population in England had been growing through Irish immigration and had accelerated during the disastrous famine of the 1840s. The Catholic Church in England was ruled previously by vicars reporting directly to Rome. The reestablishment of the hierarchy allowed for direct and quicker action. It made sense. Also, the Oxford Movement within Anglicanism -- an attempt to recapture the apostolic and Catholic nature of the Church -- had recently led to a number of prominent conversions to Catholicism, including that of John Henry Newman. Combined with the reestablishment of the hierarchy, England saw all this and went through one of its periodic bouts of “no-popery.” A practical result of this was England’s formal declaration in 1856 that the Papal State was a European scandal and demanded that Austrian and French troops should be withdrawn. 11

In the United States, the 1850s saw the rise of anti-Catholicism in the powerful Know Nothing movement. A political movement prior to the Civil War, the popular appeal of the Know Nothing Party was based on a growing anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic sentiment. Catholics were considered illiterate and ignorant Irish immigrants. They were viewed as bible-burners eager to rob the public till to pass on their superstitious beliefs to a new generation in their own schools where dangerous doctrines were taught. The Know Nothing Party combined nativism, anti-Catholicism, temperance and anti-slavery into a potent political force that would dominate in Northern state houses in the late 1850s. 12

The combination of many of these forces not only dramatically impacted on the history of that era, but upon that history’s portrayal. The propaganda spread by supporters of Italian unification, England’s consistent anti-Catholicism, and a receptive audience in the United States, helped to create fertile ground for the image of an intractable medieval Pope dominating an impoverished Papal States yearning for freedom from theocracy. These sentiments in combination would support what was essentially a land grab against a virtually defenseless Papal States by the government of Piedmont.

Cavour secured the support of France to oust the Austrians from their strongholds in Northern Italy and war broke out in the Spring of 1859. Cities within the Papal States erupted in support of the popular war to oust the Austrians. (When a revolt in Perugia was ruthlessly suppressed by Swiss mercenaries, the papacy took another propaganda defeat in the eyes of Europe.) Under the pretext of war, Piedmont annexed a large section of the Papal States. This was simple aggrandizement and Pius IX could do nothing but thunder in protest. With Garibaldi’s victories in Sicily and southern Italy, Victor Emmanuel, king of Piedmont, was declared king of a not-quite-united Italy in 1861. The Papal States by now virtually ceased to exist, leaving only Rome and a small strip of western Italy under papal control. Throughout Italy, the new Italian state would wage war on the Church with the Church fighting back by refusing the sacraments and not taking part in state celebrations. Bishops were jailed, monasteries and Catholic schools suppressed, convents disbanded. All that was left was the final taking of Rome. Prussia had overthrown Austrian power in 1866, leaving only the French troops in Rome to defend the Pope. In 1870, at the onset of the Franco-Prussian War, the French troops were withdrawn and Victor Emmanuel sent his soldiers to secure the city. On papal orders, only token resistance was offered. Italy was now unified, and the Pope declared himself a “prisoner” and retreated to the Vatican. 13

While in the Catholic world Pope Pius was viewed as a martyr, his defense of the Papal States reinforced an image of him as a stern opponent of freedom. It is true that, in the end, the loss of the Papal States would actually serve to elevate the papal reputation worldwide. At the time, however, it was viewed as a stunning defeat by both the Church itself, and a secular world that assumed the Church had received a mortal blow. The Church would quickly understand, however, that loss of temporal authority for the Pope did not destroy his spiritual authority. In fact, it enhanced it in the eyes of the world.

Pope Pius IX would live for another eight years after the final loss of the Papal States. The absorption of the Papal States was an act of raw piracy no matter how positively the outcome was viewed by the world and history. The Pope would speak out -- excommunicating those involved in the seizure -- but never truly adopted a policy to either regain the Papal States or directly undermine the new Italian government. If anything, he hoped for a miracle and if no miracle was forthcoming, it must be God’s will.

The final political challenge that engaged Pius IX was the Prussian kulturkampf under Otto von Bismarck. When the Prussian armies defeated Louis Napoleon in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the Prussian state would turn on the Church as its paramount danger.

1 Vatican Letter, by John Thavis, August 25, 2000, “Balancing Act: Popes to be beatified were very different” (Catholic News Service).

3 For the case against Pius IX within Catholic circles, see Commonweal, August 11, 2000, “No! No! Pio Nono!”

4 For an outline of the troubled pontificates of Pius VI and Pius VII, see Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, by Eamon Duffy (Yale University Press, 1997) pp. 195-214

6 Pope Pius VIII ruled for 17 months from 1829-1830. He had been imprisoned for six years under Napoleon for refusing to swear allegiance to the French government. As pope, he would relax Leo XII’s restrictive measures in the Papal States and would recognize the regime of Louis Phillippe in France after the Revolution of 1830.

8 A History of the Popes, 1830-1914, by Owen Chadwick (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998) p. 63.

11 Ibid., pp. 114-115, 124-125.

12 See Nativism and Slavery, by Tyler Abner (Oxford University Press, 1992) pp. 127-161.


Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti was born on 13 May 1792 in Senigallia. He was the ninth child born into the noble family of Girolamo dai Conti Ferretti and was baptized on the same day of his birth with the name of Giovanni Maria Battista Pietro Pellegrino Isidoro. He was educated at the Piarist College in Volterra and in Rome. As a young man in the Guardia Nobile the young Count Mastai was engaged to be married to an Irishwoman, Miss Foster (the daughter of the Bishop of Kilmore), and arrangements were made for the wedding to take place in the Church of San Luigi Dei Francesi. Mastai's parents opposed the marriage and, in the event, he did not appear at the church on the appointed day. [4]

In 1814, as a theology student in his hometown of Sinigaglia, he met Pope Pius VII, who had returned from French captivity. In 1815, he entered the Papal Noble Guard but was soon dismissed after an epileptic seizure. [5] He threw himself at the feet of Pius VII, who elevated him and supported his continued theological studies.

The pope originally insisted that another priest should assist Mastai during Holy Mass, a stipulation that was later rescinded, after the seizure attacks became less frequent. [6] Mastai was ordained a priest on 10 April 1819. He initially worked as the rector of the Tata Giovanni Institute in Rome.

Shortly before his death, Pius VII — following Chilean leader Bernardo O'Higgins' wish to have the Pope reorganize the Catholic Church of the new republic — named him Auditor to assist the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignore Giovanni Muzi in the first mission to post-revolutionary South America. [7] The mission had the objective to map out the role of the Catholic Church in Chile and its relationship with the state, but when it finally arrived in Santiago in March 1824, O'Higgins had been overthrown and replaced by General Freire, who was less well-disposed toward the Church and had already taken hostile measures such as the seizure of Church property. Having ended in failure, the mission returned to Europe. [8] Mastai had nevertheless been the first future pope ever to have been in America. Upon his return to Rome, the successor of Pius VII, Pope Leo XII appointed him head of the hospital of San Michele in Rome (1825–1827) and canon of Santa Maria in Via Lata.

Pope Leo XII appointed the 35-year-old Mastai Ferretti Archbishop of Spoleto in 1827. [6] In 1831, the abortive revolution that had begun in Parma and Modena spread to Spoleto the Archbishop obtained a general pardon after it was suppressed, gaining him a reputation for being liberal. During an earthquake, he made a reputation as an efficient organizer of relief and great charity. [6] The following year he was moved to the more prestigious diocese of Imola, was made a cardinal in pectore in 1839, and in 1840 was publicly announced as Cardinal-Priest of Santi Marcellino e Pietro. As in Spoleto, his episcopal priorities were the formation of priests through improved education and charities. He became known for visiting prisoners in jail, and for programs for street children. [9] Cardinal Mastai Ferretti was considered a liberal during his episcopate in Spoleto and Imola because he supported administrative changes in the Papal States and sympathized with the nationalist movement in Italy.

Papal styles of
Pope Pius IX
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleBlessed

Cardinal Mastai Ferretti entered the papacy in 1846, amidst widespread expectations that he would be a champion of reform and modernization in the Papal States, which he ruled directly, and in the entire Catholic Church. Admirers wanted him to lead the battle for Italian independence. His later turn toward profound conservatism shocked and dismayed his original supporters, while surprising and delighting the conservative old guard. [10]

Election Edit

The conclave of 1846, following the death of Pope Gregory XVI (1831–46), took place in an unsettled political climate within Italy. The conclave was steeped in a factional division between right and left. The conservatives on the right favoured the hardline stances and papal absolutism of the previous pontificate, while liberals supported moderate reforms. [11] The conservatives supported Luigi Lambruschini, the late pope's Cardinal Secretary of State. Liberals supported two candidates: Pasquale Tommaso Gizzi and the then 54-year-old Mastai Ferretti. [12]

During the first ballot, Mastai Ferretti received 15 votes, the rest going to Lambruschini and Gizzi. Lambruschini received a majority of the votes in the early ballots, but failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority. Gizzi was favoured by the French government but failed to get further support from the cardinals, and the conclave ended up ultimately as a contest between Lambruschini and Mastai Ferretti. [13] In the meantime, Cardinal Tommaso Bernetti reportedly received information that Cardinal Karl Kajetan von Gaisruck, the Austrian Archbishop of Milan, was on his way to the conclave to veto the election of Mastai Ferretti. The government of the Empire of Austria as represented by Prince Metternich in its foreign affairs objected to even the possible election of Mastai Ferretti. [14] According to historian Valèrie Pirie, Bernetti realized that if Lambruschini was to be stopped and Mastai Ferretti was to be elected he had to convince the cardinals within a few hours or accept the election of Lambruschini. Bernetti persuaded the majority of the electors to switch their support to Mastai Ferretti. [13]

Faced with a deadlock and persuaded by Bernetti to prevent Lambruschini's election, liberals and moderates decided to cast their votes for Mastai Ferretti in a move that contradicted the general mood throughout Europe. By the second day of the conclave, on 16 June 1846, during an evening ballot, Mastai Ferretti was elected pope. "He was a glamorous candidate, ardent, emotional with a gift for friendship and a track-record of generosity even towards anti-Clericals and Carbonari. He was a patriot, known to be critical of Gregory XVI." [12] Because it was night, no formal announcement was given, just the signal of white smoke.

On the following morning, the Cardinal Protodeacon, Tommaso Riario Sforza, announced the election of Mastai-Ferretti before a crowd of faithful Catholics. When Mastai Ferretti appeared on the balcony, the mood became joyous. Mastai Ferretti chose the name of Pius IX in honour of Pope Pius VII (1800–23), who had encouraged his vocation to the priesthood despite his childhood epilepsy. However, Mastai Ferretti, now Pope Pius IX, had little diplomatic experience and no curial experience at all, a fact which did cause some controversy. Pius IX was crowned on 21 June 1846.

The election of the liberal Pius IX created much enthusiasm in Europe and elsewhere. "For the next twenty months after the election, Pius IX was the most popular man on the Italian peninsula, where the exclamation "Long life to Pius IX!" was often heard. [15] English Protestants celebrated him as a "friend of light" and a reformer of Europe towards freedom and progress. [16] He was elected without political influences from outside and in the best years of his life. He was pious, progressive, intellectual, decent, friendly, and open to everybody. [17]

Governing the church Edit

Centralization Edit

The end of the Papal States in the middle of the "Italian boot" around the central area of Rome was not the only important event in the long pontificate of Pius. His leadership of the church contributed to an ever-increasing centralization and consolidation of power in Rome and the papacy. While his political views and policies were hotly debated, his personal lifestyle was above any criticism he was considered a model of simplicity and poverty in his everyday affairs. [18] More than his predecessors, Pius used the papal pulpit to address the bishops of the world. The First Vatican Council (1869–1870), which he convened to consolidate papal authority further, was considered a milestone not only in his pontificate but also in ecclesiastical history through its defining of the dogma of papal infallibility. [19]

Dispute with the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Edit

After the First Vatican Council concluded, an emissary of the Roman Curia was dispatched to secure the signatures of Patriarch Gregory II Youssef and the rest of the Melkite delegation who had voted non placet at the general congregation and left Rome prior to the adoption of the dogmatic constitution Pastor aeternus on papal infallibility. Gregory and the Melkite bishops ultimately subscribed to it, but added the qualifying clause used at the Council of Florence: "except the rights and privileges of Eastern patriarchs." [20] This earned Gregory the enmity of Pius IX during his next visit to the pontiff, before leaving Rome, when Gregory was kneeling, Pius placed his knee on the patriarch's shoulder, just saying to him: Testa dura! (You headstrong!). [21] [22] In spite of this event, Gregory and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church remained committed to their union with the Holy See.

Ecclesiastical rights Edit

The ecclesiastical policies of Pius IX were dominated with a defence of the rights of the church and the free exercise of religion for Catholics in countries like Russia and the Ottoman Empire. He also fought against what he perceived to be anti-Catholic philosophies in countries like Italy, Germany and France. Many of the Pope's subjects wanted to be Italian instead. The soldiers who guarded the Pope from Italians (between 1849 and 1870) were largely French and Austrian. The Pope considered moving to Germany (see below).

After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, the Papal States lost its protector in Emperor Napoleon III of the Second French Empire and were absorbed by the Kingdom of Italy. Imperial Germany actively persecuted the church under the Kaisers for a decade after the war. [23]

Jubilees Edit

Pius IX celebrated several jubilees including the 300th anniversary of the Council of Trent. Pius celebrated the 1,800th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul on 29 June 1867 with 512 bishops, 20,000 priests and 140,000 lay persons in Rome. [24] A large gathering was organized in 1871 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his papacy. The Italian government in 1870 outlawed many popular pilgrimages. The faithful of Bologna organized a nationwide "spiritual pilgrimage" to the pope and the tombs of the apostles in 1873. [25] In 1875, Pius declared a Holy Year that was celebrated throughout the Catholic world. On the 50th anniversary of his episcopal consecration, people from all parts of the world came to see the old pontiff from 30 April 1877 to 15 June 1877. He was a bit shy, but he valued initiative within the church and created several new titles, rewards, and orders to elevate those who in his view deserved merit. [26]

Consistories Edit

Pius IX created 122 new cardinals – the then number limit of the College of Cardinals was 70 – of which 64 were alive at his death. Noteworthy elevations to the "red hat" included Vincenzo Pecci, his eventual successor Leo XIII Nicholas Wiseman of Westminster Henry Edward Manning and John McCloskey, the first American ever to be elevated into the College of Cardinals. [27]

Canonizations and beatifications Edit

Pope Pius IX canonized 52 saints during his pontificate. He canonized notable saints such as the Martyrs of Japan (8 June 1862), Josaphat Kuntsevych (29 June 1867), and Nicholas Pieck (29 June 1867). Pius IX further beatified 222 individuals throughout his papacy, including the likes of Benedict Joseph Labre, Peter Claver, and his two predecessors Pope Eugene III and Pope Urban V.

Doctors of the Church Edit

Pius IX was not only pope, but until 1870, also the last Sovereign Ruler of the Papal States. As a secular ruler he was occasionally referred to as "king". [28] However, whether this was ever a title accepted by the Holy See is unclear. Ignaz von Döllinger, a fervent critic of his infallibility dogma, considered the political regime of the pope in the Papal States "wise, well-intentioned, mild-natured, frugal and open for innovations". [29] Yet there was controversy. In the period before the 1848 revolutions, Pius was a most ardent reformer advised by such innovative thinkers as Antonio Rosmini-Serbati (1797–1855), who reconciled the new "free" thinking concerning human rights with the classical natural law tradition of the church's teaching in political affairs and economic order (social justice teachings). [30] After the revolution, however, his political reforms and constitutional improvements were considered minimalist, remaining largely within the framework of the 1850 laws mentioned above. [31]

Reforms in the Papal States Edit

Pius IX was for a time very popular throughout Italy because of his liberal policies. He appointed an able and enlightened minister, Rossi, to administer the Papal States. He also showed himself hostile to Austrian influences, greatly to the delight of the Italian patriots, who hailed Pio Nono as the coming redeemer of Italy. "They want to make a Napoleon of me who am only a poor country parson", he once declared. [32]

In Pius IX's early years as pope, the government of the Papal States improved agricultural technology and productivity via farmer education in newly created scientific agricultural institutes. It abolished the requirements for Jews to attend Christian services and sermons and opened the papal charities to the needy amongst them. The new pope freed all political prisoners by giving amnesty to revolutionaries, which horrified the conservative monarchies in the Austrian Empire and elsewhere. [12] "He was celebrated in New York City, London and Berlin as a model ruler." [12]

Governmental structure Edit

In 1848, Pius IX released a new constitution titled the "Fundamental Statute for the Secular Government of the States of the Church". The governmental structure of the Papal States reflected the dual spiritual-secular character of the papacy. The secular or laypersons were strongly in the majority with 6,850 persons versus 300 members of the clergy. Nevertheless, the clergy made key decisions and every job applicant had to present a character evaluation from his parish priest to be considered. [33] [ full citation needed ]

Finance Edit

Financial administration in the Papal States under Pius IX was increasingly put in the hands of laymen. The budget and financial administration in the Papal States had long been subject to criticism even before Pius IX. In 1850, he created a government finance body ("congregation") consisting of four laymen with finance backgrounds for the 20 provinces.

Commerce and trade Edit

Pius IX is credited with systematic efforts to improve manufacturing and trade by giving advantages and papal prizes to domestic producers of wool, silk and other materials destined for export. He improved the transportation system by building roads, viaducts, bridges and seaports. A series of new railway links connected the Papal States to northern Italy. It soon became apparent that the Northern Italians were more adept at economically exploiting the modern means of communication than the inhabitants in central and Southern Italy. [34]

Justice Edit

The justice system of the Papal States was subject to numerous accusations, not unlike the justice systems in the rest of Italy. Legal books were scarce, standards inconsistent, and judges were often accused of favoritism. In the Papal States and throughout Italy, organized criminal gangs threatened commerce and travelers, engaging in robbery and murder at will. [35]

Military Edit

The papal army in 1859 had 15,000 soldiers. [36] A distinct military body was the specially-selected and trained Swiss Guard, who served as the Pope's personal bodyguard.

Universities Edit

The two papal universities in Rome and Bologna suffered much from revolutionary activities in 1848 but their standards in the areas of science, mathematics, philosophy and theology were considered adequate. [37] Pius recognized that much had to be done and instituted a reform commission in 1851.

During his tenure, Catholics and Protestants collaborated to found a school in Rome to study international law and train international mediators committed to conflict resolution. [38]

There was one newspaper, Giornale di Roma, and one periodical, Civilta Cattolica, run by Jesuits. [37]

Arts Edit

Like most of his predecessors, Pius IX was a patron of the arts. He supported art, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, goldsmiths, coppersmiths, and more, and handed out numerous rewards to its representatives. [39] Much of his efforts were oriented to churches in Rome and in the Papal States, many of which were renovated and improved. [40]

He ordered the strengthening of the Colosseum, which was threatened with collapse. [41] Huge sums were spent in the discovery of Christian catacombs, for which Pius created a new archaeological commission in 1853.

Protestants and Jews Edit

The Papal States were a theocracy. The Catholic Church and Catholics had more rights than members of other religions. Pius IX's policies became increasingly reactionary over time: At the beginning of his pontificate, together with other liberal measures, Pius opened the Jewish ghetto in Rome. After being returned by French troops from his exile in 1850, during which the Roman Republic issued sharp anti-Church measures, [42] the Pope issued a series of anti-liberal measures, including re-instituting the ghetto. [43]

In 1858, in a highly publicized case, the police of the Papal States seized a 6-year-old Jewish boy, Edgardo Mortara, from his parents. A Christian servant girl unrelated to the family had reportedly informally baptized him during an illness six years prior, fearing he would die. The Papal state law forbade Christians being raised by Jews, even their own parents, and considered the informal baptism of the infant a valid religious conversion. The incident provoked widespread outrage amongst liberal Catholics and non-Catholics, and contributed to the growing anti-papal sentiment in Europe. The boy was raised in the papal household, and was eventually ordained a priest at age 21. [44]

Pius IX was the last pope who also functioned as a secular ruler as monarch of the Papal States, ruling over some 3 million people from 1846 to 1870. In 1870 the newly-founded Kingdom of Italy seized the remaining areas of the Papal States by force of arms. Contention between Italy and the Papacy was only resolved in international law by the Lateran Treaty (also known as the Lateran Pacts or Lateran Accords), agreed in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, the latter receiving financial compensation for the loss of the Papal States, in substitution of which Italy recognized the Vatican City State as an independent territorial state which is the expression of a sovereign entity in International law known as the Holy See. The latter, as before, maintains diplomatic relations with many other states.

Italy Edit

Well aware of the political pressures within the Papal States, Pius IX's first act of general amnesty for political prisoners did not consider the potential implications and consequences. The freed revolutionaries merely resumed their previous activities and his concessions only provoked greater demands as patriotic Italian groups sought not only a constitutional government – which he was sympathetic to – but also the Unification of Italy under his leadership and a war of liberation against Catholic Austria, which claimed the northern Italian provinces as its own. [45]

By early 1848, all of Western Europe began to be convulsed in various revolutionary movements. [46] The Pope, claiming to be above national interests, refused to go to war with Austria, which totally reversed the up to now popular view of him in his native Italy. [45] In a calculated, well-prepared move, Prime Minister Rossi was assassinated on 15 November 1848, and in the days following, the Swiss Guards were disarmed, making the Pope a prisoner in his palace. [47] However he succeeded in escaping Rome several days later.

A Roman Republic was declared in February 1849. Pius responded from his exile by excommunicating all participants. [48] After the suppression of the republic later that year, Pius appointed a conservative government of three cardinals known as the Red Triumvirate to administer the Papal States until his return to Rome in April 1850. [49]

He visited the hospitals to comfort the wounded and sick but he seemed to have lost both some of his liberal tastes and his confidence in the Romans, who had turned against him in 1848. [ citation needed ] Pius decided to move his residence from the Quirinal Palace inside Rome to the Vatican, where popes have lived ever since. [29]

End of the Papal States Edit

After defeating the papal army on 18 September 1860 at the Battle of Castelfidardo, and on 30 September at Ancona, Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia took all the Papal territories except Latium with Rome and took the title King of Italy. Rome itself was invaded on 20 September 1870 after a few-hours siege. [ citation needed ] Italy approved the Law of Guarantees (13 May 1871) which gave the Pope the use of the Vatican but denied him sovereignty over this territory, nevertheless granting him the right to send and receive ambassadors and a budget of 3.25 million liras annually. Pius IX officially rejected this offer (encyclical Ubi nos, 15 May 1871), since it was a unilateral decision which did not grant the papacy international recognition and could be changed at any time by the secular parliament.

Pius IX refused to recognize the new kingdom, which he denounced as an illegitimate creation of revolution. He excommunicated the nation's leaders, including King Victor Emmanuel II, whom he denounced as "forgetful of every religious principle, despising every right, trampling upon every law." His reign over Italy was therefore "a sacrilegious usurpation." [50]

Mexico Edit

With French Emperor Napoleon III's military intervention in Mexico and establishment of the Second Mexican Empire and Maximilian I of Mexico as its ruler in 1864, the church was looking for some relief from a friendly government after the anti-clerical actions of Benito Juárez. Juárez had recently suspended payment on foreign debt and seized ecclesial property. [51] [52] [53]

Pius had blessed Maximilian and his wife Charlotte of Belgium before they set off for Mexico to begin their reign. [54] But the friction between the Vatican and Mexico would continue with the new Emperor when Maximilian insisted on freedom of religion, which Pius opposed. Relations with the Vatican would only be resumed when Maximilian sent the recently converted American Catholic priest Father Agustin Fischer to Rome as his envoy. [ citation needed ]

Contrary to Fischer's reports back to Maximilian, the negotiations did not go well and the Vatican would not budge. [55] Maximilian sent his wife Charlotte to Europe to plead against the withdrawal of the French troops from Mexico. After an unsuccessful attempt at negotiating with Napoleon III, Charlotte then travelled to Rome to plead with Pius in 1866. As the days passed, Charlotte's mental state deteriorated. [56] She sought refuge with the pope, and she would eat and drink only what was prepared for him, fearful that everything else might be poisoned. The pope, though alarmed, accommodated her, and even agreed to let her stay in the Vatican one night after she voiced anxiety about her safety. She and her assistant were the first women to stay the night inside the Vatican. [57]

England and Wales Edit

England for centuries was considered missionary territory for the Catholic Church. [19] In the wake of Catholic emancipation in the United Kingdom (which included all of Ireland), Pius IX changed that with the bull Universalis Ecclesiae (29 September 1850). He re-established the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, under the newly appointed Archbishop and Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman with 12 additional episcopal seats: Southwark, Hexham, Beverley, Liverpool, Salford, Shrewsbury, Newport, Clifton, Plymouth, Nottingham, Birmingham, and Northampton. [58] Some violent street protests against the "papal aggression" resulted in the Ecclesiastical Titles Act 1851 being passed by Parliament, which on penalty of imprisonment and fines forbade any Catholic bishop to use any episcopal title "of any city, town or place, or of any territory or district (under any designation or description whatsoever), in the United Kingdom". [59] The law was never enforced and was repealed twenty years later. [60] Pius donated money to Ireland during the Great Famine. [61] In 1847 he addressed the Irish people in the midst of the Famine by writing Praedecessores nostros.

Netherlands Edit

The Dutch government instituted religious freedom for Catholics in 1848. [62] In 1853, Pius erected the Archdiocese of Utrecht and four dioceses in Haarlem, Den Bosch, Breda, and Roermond under it. As in England, this resulted in a brief popular outburst of anti-Catholic sentiment. [63]

Spain Edit

Spain – traditionally Catholic – offered a challenge to Pius IX as anti-clerical governments were in power from 1832, resulting in the expulsion of religious orders, the closing of convents, the closing of Catholic schools and libraries, the seizure and sale of churches and religious properties and the inability of the church to fill vacant dioceses. [64] In 1851, Pius IX concluded a concordat with Queen Isabella II, which stipulated that unsold ecclesial properties were to be returned, while the church renounced properties that had already passed owners. This flexibility of Pius led to Spain guaranteeing the freedom of the church in religious education. [64]

United States Edit

Pope Pius IX approved on 7 February 1847 the unanimous request of American bishops that the Immaculate Conception be invoked as the Patroness of the United States of America.

Beginning in October 1862, the Pope began sending public letters to Catholic bishops of the United States calling for an end to the "destructive Civil War." The Vatican never recognized the Confederacy or sent any diplomats to it. However, in 1863 the pope did meet privately with a Confederate envoy and emphasized the need for emancipation. [65] A letter that Pius IX wrote to Jefferson Davis in December 1863, addressing him as the "Praesidi foederatorum Americae regionum" (President of an American regional federation), was not seen as recognition of the Confederate States of America, even by Confederate officials: Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin interpreted it as "a mere inferential recognition, unconnected with political action or the regular establishment of diplomatic relations" and thus did not assign it the weight of formal recognition. [66] [67]

Pius IX elevated Archbishop John McCloskey of New York as the first American to the College of Cardinals on 15 March 1875. [68]

Canada Edit

Pius IX increased the number of Canadian dioceses from 4 to 21 with 1,340 churches and 1,620 priests in 1874. [69]

Concordats Edit

Pius IX signed concordats with Spain, Austria, Tuscany, Portugal, Haiti, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Russia. [27]

Austria Edit

The 1848 revolution had mixed results for the Catholic Church in Austria-Hungary. It freed the church from the heavy hand of the state in its internal affairs, which was applauded by Pius IX. Similar to other countries, Austria-Hungary had significant anti-Catholic political movements, mainly liberals, which forced the emperor Franz-Joseph I in 1870 to renounce the 1855 concordat with the Vatican. Austria had already in 1866 nullified several of its sections concerning the freedom of Catholic schools and prohibition of civil marriages. [70] After diplomatic approaches failed, Pius responded with an encyclical on 7 March 1874, demanding religious freedom and freedom of education. [ citation needed ] Despite these developments, there was no equivalent to the German Kulturkampf in Austria, and Pius created new dioceses throughout Austria-Hungary. [71]

German Empire Edit

In Germany, the state of Prussia, under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, saw Catholicism as a dangerous foreign influence, and in 1872–1878 fought hard to reduce the power of the pope and the bishops. After years of struggle in the Kulturkampf, the Catholics fought back by mobilising their voters in Prussia and in Germany as a whole. After Pius died, Bismarck came to terms with the new pope. He dropped his alliance with the anti-Catholic Liberals and instead formed a political coalition with the Catholic Centre Party. [72]

Russian Empire Edit

The Pontificate of Pius IX began in 1847 with an "Accomodamento", a generous agreement, which allowed Pius to fill vacant episcopal sees of the Latin rites both in Russia (specifically the Baltic countries) and in the Polish provinces of Russia. [ citation needed ] The short-lived freedoms were undermined by the Orthodox Church, [ citation needed ] Polish political aspirations in the occupied lands [ citation needed ] , and the tendency of imperial Russia to act against any dissent. Pius first tried to position himself in the middle, strongly opposing revolutionary and violent opposition against the Russian authorities and appealing to them for more ecclesiastical freedom. [73] After the failure of the Polish uprising in 1863, Pius sided with the persecuted Poles, protesting against their persecutions, and infuriating the Tsarist government to the point that all Catholic dioceses were eliminated by 1870. [74] Pius criticized the Tsar – without naming him – for expatriating whole communities to Siberia, exiling priests, condemning them to labour camps and abolishing Catholic dioceses. [ citation needed ] He pointed to Siberian villages Tounka and Irkout, where in 1868, 150 Catholic priests were awaiting death. [75]

Several times during his pontificate, Pius IX considered leaving Rome. On 24 November 1848, facing a rebellion by Italian nationalists, he fled to Gaeta in Naples he returned in 1850.

Another occurrence was in 1862, when Giuseppe Garibaldi was in Sicily gathering volunteers for a campaign to take Rome under the slogan Roma o Morte (Rome or Death). On 26 July 1862, before Garibaldi and his volunteers were stopped at Aspromonte. Pius IX asked Odo Russell, the British Minister in Rome, whether he would be granted political asylum in England after the Italian troops had marched in. Russell assured him that he would be granted asylum if the need arose, but said that he was sure that the Pope's fears were unfounded. [76] After the Capture of Rome and the suspension of the First Vatican Council. Otto von Bismarck confided to someone that Pius IX had already asked whether Prussia could grant him asylum. Bismarck did not object, adding "it would be very useful to us to be recognised by Catholics as what we really are, that is to say, the sole power now existing that is capable of protecting the head of their Church. . But the King [Wilhelm I] will not consent. He is terribly afraid. He thinks all Prussia would be perverted and he himself would be obliged to become a Catholic. I told him, however, that if the Pope begged for asylum he could not refuse it." [77]

Pius was adamant about his role as the highest teaching authority in the church. [78] He promoted the foundations of Catholic Universities in Belgium and France and supported Catholic associations, with the aim of explaining the faith to non-Catholics. The Ambrosian Circle in Italy, the Union of Catholic Workers in France and the Pius Verein and the Deutsche Katholische Gesellschaft in Germany all tried to bring the Catholic faith in its fullness to people outside the church. [79]

Mariology Edit

Marian doctrines featured prominently in 19th-century theology, especially the issue of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. During his pontificate, petitions increased requesting the dogmatization of the Immaculate Conception. [ citation needed ] In 1848 Pius appointed a theological commission to analyse the possibility for a Marian dogma. [80] [ full citation needed ] On 8 December 1854 he promulgated the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus is an Apostolic constitution defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. [81]

Encyclicals Edit

Pius issued a record 38 encyclicals. They include:

  • Qui pluribus (1846) on faith and religion
  • Praedecessores nostros (1847) on aid for Ireland
  • Ubi primum 1848 on The Immaculate Conception
  • Nostis et nobiscum 1849 on the church in the Papal States
  • Neminem vestrum 1854 on the bloody persecution of Armenians
  • Cum nuper 1858 on care for clerics
  • Amantissimus 1862 on care of the churches
  • Meridionali Americae 1865 on the Seminary for the Native Clergy
  • Omnem sollicitudinem 1874 on the Greek-Ruthenian Rite
  • Quod nunquam 1875 on the Church in Prussia

On 7 February 1862 he issued the papal constitution Ad universalis Ecclesiae, dealing with the conditions for admission to religious orders of men in which solemn vows are prescribed. Unlike popes in the 20th century, Pius IX did not use encyclicals to explain the faith, but to condemn what he considered errors. Pius IX was the first pope to popularize encyclicals on a large scale to foster his views.

First Vatican Council Edit

Pius decisively acted on the century-old disagreement between Dominicans and Franciscans regarding the Immaculate Conception of Mary, deciding in favour of the Franciscan view. [82] However, this decision, which he formulated as an infallible dogma, raised a question: Can a pope make such decisions without the bishops? This foreshadowed one topic of the First Vatican Council, which he later convened for 1869. [82] The Pope did consult the bishops beforehand with his encyclical Ubi primum (see below), but insisted on having this issue clarified nevertheless. The council was to deal with papal infallibility, enhancing the role of the papacy and decreasing the role of the bishops. [82] The role of the bishops was to be dealt with at the council, but it was disbanded because of the imminent attack by Italy against the Papal States. Thus, the major achievements of Pius IX are his Mariology and the First Vatican Council. [82]

Influence Edit

Pius IX approved 74 new religious congregations for women alone. In France, Pius IX created over 200 new dioceses and created new hierarchies in several countries. [83]

Since 1868, the pope had been plagued first by facial erysipelas and then by open sores on his legs. [84] Nevertheless, he insisted on celebrating daily Mass. The extraordinary heat of the summer of 1877 worsened the sores to the effect that he had to be carried. He underwent several painful medical procedures with remarkable patience. [ citation needed ] He spent most of his last few weeks in his library, where he received cardinals and held papal audiences. [85] On 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, his situation improved markedly to the point that he could walk again.

By February, he could say Mass again on his own in a standing position, enjoying the popular celebration of the 75th anniversary of his First Communion. Bronchitis, a fall to the floor, and rising temperature worsened his situation after 4 February 1878. He continued joking about himself: when the Cardinal Vicar of Rome ordered bell-ringing and non-stop prayers for his recuperation, the pope asked, "Why do you want to stop me from going to heaven?" He told his doctor that his time had come. [86]

Pius IX lived just long enough to witness the death of his old adversary, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, in January 1878. As soon as he learned about the seriousness of the situation of the king, he absolved him of all excommunications and other ecclesiastical punishments. Pius IX died one month later on 7 February 1878 at 5:40 pm, aged 85, while saying the rosary with his staff. The cause of death was epilepsy, which led to a seizure and a sudden heart attack. [87] His last words were, "Guard the Church I loved so well and sacredly", as recorded by the cardinals kneeling beside his bedside. [ citation needed ] His death concluded the second-longest pontificate in papal history, after that of Saint Peter, whom tradition holds had reigned for 37 years.

His body was originally buried in St. Peter's grotto, but was moved in a night procession on 13 July 1881 to the Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside the Walls. When the cortege approached the Tiber River, a group of anticlerical Romans screaming "Long live Italy! Death to the Pope! Death to the Priests!" threatened to throw the coffin into the river but a contingent of militia arrived to prevent this. [88] The simple grave of Pius IX was changed by his successor John Paul II after his beatification.

The process for his beatification, which in the early stages was strongly opposed by the Italian government, was begun on 11 February 1907, and recommenced three times. [89] The Italian government had since 1878 strongly opposed beatification of Pius IX. Without Italian opposition, Pope John Paul II declared Pius IX to be Venerable on 6 July 1985 (upon confirming his life of heroic virtue), and beatified him on 3 September 2000 (his annual liturgical commemoration is 7 February).

The beatification of Pius IX was controversial and was criticized by some Jews and Christians because of what was perceived as his authoritarian, reactionary politics the accusation of abuse of episcopal powers and antisemitism (most specifically the case of Edgardo Mortara, but also his reinstituting the Roman ghetto). [90]

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of two events of transcendental significance for the Church’s life and history. The first is a positive event, which was the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility (July 18, 1870). The second event was a negative episode, which was the taking of Rome by the revolutionary hordes at the service of the House of Savoy. At that time, the Pope was despoiled of his temporal power (September 20, 1870).

This short article will put the two events in the context of the life and pontificate of their main protagonist, Blessed Pius IX, the last Pope-King.

The conclave that met on June 15, 1846 to elect a successor to Gregory XVI was one of the shortest in history: it lasted only 36 hours, after which Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, Bishop of Imola, was elected and adopted the name of Pius IX.

The first acts of his pontificate, especially the choice of his closest advisors and the release of hundreds of political prisoners, left his contemporaries perplexed.

Was Pius IX a liberal?

This question has been asked by historians 1 and the answers have varied.

Some see him as a liberal who—mugged by reality—converted, becoming a “reactionary.” Others present him as a pragmatic diplomat who made a miscalculation when he thought he could placate the revolutionaries with a policy milder than his predecessor, the austere and energetic Gregory XVI. Still others say that he was not a liberal and that his policies, permeated with clemency and liberality, were dictated more by his conciliatory temperament than by ideology, and that the Revolution sought to take advantage of this, appointing him as a “liberal” Pope, ready to carry out its designs.

Whatever the answer, the fact is that, as soon as Pius IX cleared up the misunderstanding and energetically put an end to the revolutionary consequences they intended to draw from his acts, everything changed. The revolutionary sectarians responded by inciting the Roman populace to mutiny. The mobs stoned the Pontifical Palace, and the Pope had to leave the Eternal City secretly, taking refuge in Gaeta in the Kingdom of Naples. Meanwhile, the revolutionaries stalked the streets of Rome, sowing terror through an orgy of blood and desecration of churches and convents. Finally, they declared the civil power of the Pontiff to be over and proclaimed the “Roman Republic.”

The Pope appealed to Catholic powers, which uprooted the revolutionaries from Rome and the other pontifical territories. After a few months, Pius IX returned to his capital.

However, the Revolution was determined to end the temporal power of the Popes forever by unifying Italy. Controlling a centralized State is easier than coercing the various small local sovereigns of the Italian peninsula, which included the Pope, the Kings of Piedmont and Naples, the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Dukes of Modena and Parma.

Thus, Piedmont troops occupied several provinces of the Papal States. On March 26, Pius IX issued an excommunication “against all usurpers of the Church’s possessions.”

The Pope was left with only Rome and the surrounding Patrimony of Saint Peter, which he was willing to defend by arms. This time the Catholic powers did not heed his appeal, so Pius IX addressed the faithful worldwide. Young and old, noble and plebeian, men rushed to fight for the Pope. They wrote one of the most glorious pages in the history of the Church, immortalized by the legendary figure of the Papal Zouaves. These soldiers were the personification of honor and courage, faith and detachment. However, their value did not prevent them from being crushed by the incomparably superior number of an adversary that was better armed and equipped.

But Pius IX was not a man to be bent by the force of arms. Amid all these tribulations, he continued to rule the Church with wisdom and courage. He faced even tougher battles that might be called hand-to-hand struggles, against the declared or disguised errors, the external foes or internal enemy, which are a hundred times more dangerous.

Three moments of this arduous and incessant thirty-year struggle deserve to be highlighted: the definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin the Encyclical Quanta Cura with the Syllabus and, finally, the First Vatican Council with the proclamation of Papal Infallibility.

“I am the Immaculate Conception”

Pius IX was an eminently Marian Pope. He consecrated his pontificate to the Blessed Virgin. As soon as Providence entrusted him with the Keys of Saint Peter, he manifested his intention to proclaim the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. The general longing of Christian piety favored this proclamation. From ancient times, bishops and religious orders, emperors and kings, and entire nations appealed to the Apostolic See to define this universally accepted truth as a dogma of the Catholic faith.

Before agreeing to this welcome wish, the Pope wanted to hear the opinion of the theologians and consult the sentiments of the faithful in the Catholic universe. He established a commission of cardinals and theologians, commissioning them to study the matter diligently. He wrote to all the world’s bishops, inquiring about the piety and devotion of the faithful of their dioceses to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Each bishop was asked his opinion about the projected definition. The unanimous favorable responses made the Pope feel that the time had come to proclaim this prerogative of the Blessed Virgin solemnly.

In the presence of more than two hundred cardinals, archbishops and bishops from all over the Catholic orb, Pius IX signed the Bull Ineffabilis Deus on December 8, 1854. In it, he declared, pronounced and defined as a doctrine revealed by God and a truth of Catholic faith “that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

Painting “Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception” by Francesco Podesti in the Hall of the Immaculate within the Vatican Museums

The Queen of Heaven and Earth showed how pleased she was with Pius IX’s definition. Our Lady appeared on February 11, 1858, in Lourdes to the humble Bernadette. When the little girl asked who she was, Our Lady answered: “I am the Immaculate Conception…”

Blow to Modern Errors: Naturalism, Rationalism, Materialism and Anarchism

The proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was a blow to the modern errors of naturalism, rationalism, materialism and anarchism. Saint Pius X, the last century’s greatest Pontiff, described this blow in his letter commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of that dogmatic definition.

The Pope explains that these errors stem from the denial of Original Sin and the consequent corruption of human nature. The logical result is the denial of the need for a Redeemer. The proclamation of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God forces people to admit the existence of Original Sin (from which she was exempt) and all its consequences. 2

A First Milestone in the Rise of the Counter-Revolution

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira considered the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception to be “a first milestone in the rise of the Counter-Revolution.” He writes:

“The new dogma also deeply shocked the essentially egalitarian mentality of the French Revolution, which since 1789 had despotically held sway in the West. To see a mere creature elevated so far above all others, enjoying an inestimable privilege from the very first instance of her conception is something that could not and cannot fail to hurt the children of a Revolution which proclaimed absolute equality among men.” 3

He later wrote that the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception was “one of the truly counter-revolutionary acts of Pope Pius IX’s pontificate.”

It was also the first time in the Church’s history that a dogma was proclaimed by a Pope, using the privilege of papal infallibility—even before a council defined it. This counter-revolutionary act challenged the revolutionary claims that placed the council above the Pope. 4

American Jesuit historian Fr. John W. O’Malley comments upon this unprecedented act of Pius IX, drawing an interesting conclusion:

“The definition [of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception] was a papal act, pure and simple and in that context a victory for Ultramontanism.” 5

The United States and the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception

In 1846, the American Bishops chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as the Patroness of the United States of America.

“On Dec. 8, 1854, eight years and four months after the American bishops had chosen Mary Immaculate as the Patroness of the United States, Pope Pius IX solemnly declared the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be an article of faith. Numerous petitions for the definition of this doctrine had poured in during the preceding years and Pope Pius IX had written the encyclical Ubi primum in which he asked the bishops of the world (1) how great the devotion of the faithful was toward the Immaculate Conception and how great their desire for the definition of this doctrine and (2) what was the opinion and desire of the bishops themselves.

“The American bishops, assembled in the Seventh Provincial Council of Baltimore, May 5-13, 1849, had given a favorable reply to both questions … informing the Holy Father that the faithful in the United States were animated with a great devotion to the Immaculate Conception, and that they the bishops, would be pleased if the Holy Father declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception an article of faith.” (see Marion A. Habig, O.F.M., Land of Mary Immaculate, at https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/land-of-mary-immaculate-4089, accessed 9/30/2020, 6:23:58 PM)

On December 8, 1854, when Pope Pius IX read the declaration defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, it was the Bishop of Philadelphia, Saint John Neumann, who held the book from which the Pope read. (“St. John Neumann & The Immaculate Conception,” at https://www.americaneedsfatima.org/Saints-Heroes/st-john-neumann.html.)

In a letter to a friend, Saint John Neumann wrote: “I have neither the time nor ability to describe the solemnity. I thank the Lord God that among the many graces He has bestowed on me, He allowed me to see this day in Rome.” (Fr. Michael J. Curley, C.SS.R., Bishop John Neumann C.SS.R.: A Biography [Philadelphia, Penn.: Bishop Neumann Center], p. 239.)

From Gallicanism to Ultramontanism

Exactly ten years later, on December 8, 1864, Pius IX surprised the world with two bombshell documents: the Encyclical Quanta Cura and the Syllabus. 6

The publications of Quanta Cura and the Syllabus were badly received by almost all governments of the time because they were dominated by sectarian liberalism. Some, like Napoleon III, even prohibited the bishops from publishing them. The revolutionaries provoked violent incidents in some places. However, there was no lack of gratitude and support for the Roman Pontiff.

French historian Adrien Dansette, after narrating the ecclesiastical resistance in France to the Syllabus concludes: “Pius IX had dealt Catholic liberalism a blow from which it was to take more than twelve years to recover. Meanwhile, the Roman power continued to extend. The great upsurge of pontifical authority, which had already carried the Church in France from Gallicanism to ultramontanism, was soon to take the papacy to the height of prestige represented by the [First] Vatican Council.” 7

A Manifestation of the Strength and Vigor of the Church

In 1867, Pius IX took advantage of the commemorations of the Eighteenth Centenary of the Martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul to announce his intention to convoke an ecumenical Council. This message was declared before 53 Cardinals, nearly 500 Bishops, ten thousand priests and an incalculable number of faithful from all over the world.

At the end of the centennial festivities on June 29, 1868, he published the Bull Aeterni Patris, designating December 8 of the following year for the opening of the Council and the Vatican Basilica as the site of the assembly.

The Catholic world’s reaction to the announcement was of great joy and enthusiasm: the Holy See, trodden underfoot and politically persecuted, fought even by some of its children, was giving a full test of strength and vigor by issuing a real challenge to its enemies.

The governments of Catholic nations counted on influencing the Council’s decisions. Indeed, since Constantine (fourth century), it had been the custom for Christian princes to participate in the Council, personally or through their ambassadors. To the general surprise and dismay of many, Pius IX did not invite any sovereign or head of state. The Pope made it clear that he wished to solve the internal problems of the Church without any external pressure and that therefore the Council would be exclusively ecclesiastical.

Infallibilists, Anti-infallibilists, “Opportunists”

The opening ceremony of the First Vatican Council (the twentieth ecumenical one) was presided over by the Pope and attended by seven hundred Council Fathers and twenty thousand pilgrims. It was solemnly inaugurated in St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1869.

The camps were already divided: on the one hand, the pro-infallibility majority, led by Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster. He had converted from Anglicanism and vowed to do everything to define the Pope’s dogma of infallibility. The cardinal was joined by the bishops of Italy, Spain, England, Ireland and Latin America. The minority camp consisted of anti-infallibilists and “opportunists.” The latter were ironically called opportunists because they considered the definition of the Pope’s infallibility “inopportune.” Most saw this excuse as a skillful formula to fight the dogma without clashing head-on with Catholic doctrine. The minority opposition included the German bishops, almost the entire episcopate of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a third of the French bishops.

The opening ceremony of the First Vatican Council was presided over by Pope Pius IX and attended by seven hundred Council Fathers and twenty thousand pilgrims.
Photo Credit: ©Erica Guilane-Nachez – stock.adobe.com

As the European political situation deteriorated daily, there was the risk that a war might interrupt the Council’s activities. Thus, 480 bishops of the majority addressed a Postulatum to the Holy Father, asking that the scheme on pontifical infallibility be immediately discussed, leaving the other issues on the agenda for later consideration.

“I Felt Such Indignation That the Blood Went to my Head…”

After the Pope accepted the request, the Council Fathers began to discuss the draft Constitution De Ecclesia Christi, focusing on chapter XI, on the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff, which included the definition of infallibility.

The debates were heated, and the minority provoked many incidents. An anti-infallibility bishop took his attacks on the prerogatives of the Roman Pontiff so far that the Cardinal-President of the assembly had to interrupt him, sounding his handbell vigorously. Indignant protests were heard in the plenary.

Saint Anthony Mary Claret, former Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, even had a minor stroke, as he recounts:

“Since, on this matter [papal infallibility], I cannot compromise for anything, or with anyone, and I am willing to shed my blood, as I said openly in the Council when hearing the nonsense and even blasphemies and heresies that were said, I felt such an indignation and zeal that the blood rose to my head and produced a cerebral affection.” 8

After heated debate, the arguments against infallibility were refuted one by one. The bishops of the opposition minority decided to abstain from voting, withdrawing from Rome the day before the vote.

Amid Lightning and Thunder, Like Moses at Sinai

On July 18, 1870, the solemn promulgation of the pontifical dogma of infallibility took place. After the Mass of the Holy Ghost, the enthronement of the Gospels, and the singing of the Litany of Saints, the Pope blessed the Council six times.

The Secretary announced that a restricted session was to begin. As he was about to order the faithful to leave, the Pope ordered that they be allowed to attend the voting and proclamation.

After the solemn reading of the Constitution, Pastor Aeternus, the Secretary addressed the Council Fathers:

“Most Reverend Fathers: Do you approve the decrees and canons contained in this Constitution?”

The same Secretary communicated to the Pope the result of the vote:

“Most Holy Father: All but two have approved the canons and decrees.”

Pius IX then stood up, replaced the miter and with great calm and majesty, pronounced the words:

“The decrees and canons contained in the Constitution that has just been read pleased all but two Fathers. We too, with the approval of the Holy Council, as they were read,

“Long live Pius IX! Long live the infallible Pope!” were the cries of joy that echoed through the vaults of St. Peter.

During the whole ceremony, one of the most violent storms in the memory of the Eternal City raged. Amid lightning and thunder—as in Sinai, when the Lord gave Moses His Law—the pontifical infallibility was proclaimed. At the Pope’s last words, the atmosphere calmed down and, suddenly, a ray of sunshine swept through the dark clouds, illuminated the Pontiff’s venerable and majestic countenance, then lighted the whole room.

The next day, France declared war on Prussia. The French and German bishops rushed to their dioceses. The general concern caused by the war cut short the Council.

In those countries dominated by sectarian liberalism, the definition of papal infallibility provoked a religious persecution against Catholics. In Germany, this clash was adorned with the sound (and fallacious) name of Kulturkampf (German: “culture conflict”).

Sustained and encouraged by the Pontiff, both pastors and faithful reacted magnificently to the attacks. The persecutions served to bind Catholics together and increase their loyalty to the Chair of Peter.

A Great Sacrilege

The war caused France to withdraw its small garrison protecting Rome, leaving the city at the mercy of the House of Savoy.

Pius IX maintained his habitual—and supernatural—tranquility throughout the new crisis. He dealt with ecclesiastical matters as if the most fierce struggles were not being prepared around him. On September 19, the twenty-fourth anniversary of the events of La Sallete, he signed the decree recognizing the apparitions of the Virgin of Tears. At five o’clock in the afternoon, he went to the Scala Santa and climbed up them on his knees, begging God that, by the infinite merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, shed on those steps, have mercy on His Church.

Meanwhile, Piedmontese troops, commanded by General Raffaele Cadorna, reached the Aurelian Walls and placed the Eternal City under siege. The papal force, commanded by General Hermann Kanzler, totaled 13,157 men facing more than 50,000.

After a terrible cannonade, which lasted five and a half hours, the Pope’s heroic defenders were ordered to suspend the combat. Pius IX, seeing that he could not face the assault, had determined that the resistance should last just long enough to make it clear in the eyes of the world that the Vicar of Christ yielded only to violence.

On September 20, after a three-hour cannonade breached the Aurelian Walls (Breccia di Porta Pia), the Piedmontese infantry group of the Bersaglieri entered Rome.

The Pope was thus sacrilegiously stripped of what remained of his territorial sovereignty. From then on, the Roman Pontiff considered himself a prisoner in the Vatican until the Lateran Treaty in 1929, which created the Vatican City State.

Hatred of the Wicked, Title of Glory

Pius IX died on February 7, 1878, at 86. He had ruled the Church for thirty-one years, seven months and twenty-two days. He was the first Pope to surpass the traditional “twenty-five years” of the Prince of the Apostles, and to whom the aphorism was not applied: “Non videbis annos Petri”—“You shall not see the years of Peter.”

His death filled the whole Catholic world with consternation. Catholics everywhere paid him the homage due to a great Pope. Undoubtedly, Pius IX was one of the greatest Pontiffs in the history of the Church. He used exceptional energy to defend the rights of the Church and the Apostolic See. He committed himself with unreserved devotion to make them triumph. He knew how to magnify the influence of the Papacy in the eyes of his contemporaries. The Papacy obtained a prestige and authority known perhaps only to the great medieval Pontiffs.

That is why he was so loved and venerated by the faithful. And also why he was so hated and persecuted by the enemies of the Church and Roman See. This latter is one of his greatest titles of glory.


DENZINGER, Enchiridion, No. 1700 sqq. No. 2001 sqq. The Doctrinal Authority of the Syllabus in The Catholic World, XXII (New York, 1886), 31 WARD, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Neuman, II (London, 1912) GLADSTONE, Rome and the Newest Fashions in Religion (London, 1875) NEWMAN, Letter to the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone's Recent Expostulation (London, 1875) MANNING, The Vatican Decrees in their Bearing on Civil Allegiance (London, 1875), another reply to Gladstone MACCAFFREY, History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century (St. Louis, 1910), I, 249, 438, 440, 487 II, 60, 462, 480 CHOUPIN, Valeur des décisions (Paris, 1907) HOURAT, Le Syllabus (Paris, 1904) HEINER, Der Syllabus in ultramontaner und anti-ultramontaner Beleuchtung (Mainz, 1905) RINALDI, Il valore del Syllabo (Rome, 1888) HEINER, Der neue Syllabus (Mainz, 1907) BESSMER, Philosophie und Theologie des Modernismus (Freiburg, 1912) VILLADA, Razón y Fe, XIX, 154 LEPIN, Les théories de M. Loisy (Paris, 1908).

The life of Pope Pius IX. and the great events in the history of the Church during his pontificate

CONTENTS. CHAPTER I. His Birth and Education. — Illness. — Enters the Ecclesiastical State. — Tata Giovanni. — Mission to Chili. — Archbishop of Spoleto. — Bishop of Imola. CHAPTER II. The Election. — Cardinal Mastai Perretti cho- sen Pope. — The Ordinance of Amnesty. — The Memorandum of 1831. — popularity of Pius IX. at Home and Abroad. — Opinions of American Statesmen as to the Pope CHAPTER III. Pius IX. and the Church at Large. — His First Encyclical. — Promotion of Cardinals. — The Pope in the Pulpit. — Ecclesiastical Reforms. — Ireland. — America. — Religious Orders CHAPTER IV. The Civil Affairs of Rome. — Italy in a Fer- ment. — The Fundamental Statute. — The Italian War against Austria. — Defeat of Charles Albert. — Change of Ministry. — Violence of the Revolutionists against the Pope. — The Church in Russia. — Spain. — France CHAPTER V. The Ministry of Count Rossi. — A United Italy. — Assassination of Rossi. — The Quirinal besieged. — Pius IX. deserted by all but the Diplomatic Corps. — His Escape to Gaeta. — His Reception by the King of Naples 123 CHAPTER VI. Pius IX. at Gaeta. — His Protest. — Rome in the Hands of the Revolution. — Intervention of the Catholic Powers. — General - Oudinot Recovers Rome. — Napoleon's Tortuous Policy. — Pius IX. Invited to America. — Encyclical on the Immaculate Conception. — His Work at Gaeta 147 CHAPTER VII. Pius IX. Restored to Rome. — His Edict of September 12, 1849. — His Return to Rome. — The English Hierarchy. — The Church and the World 185 CHAPTER VIII. The Definition of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. — The Accident at the Church of St. Agnes. — "Immaculate Virgin, Help Us!" 213 CHAPTER IX. The French War against Austria. — Its Results. — The Sardinians seize Bologna and incite the Legations to Revolt. — Duplicity of Napoleon III. — The Kingdom of Naples seized. — Victor Emmanuel annexes the Marches and Umbria. — A Papal Army under Lamoriciere attempts to uphold the Pope's Authority. — Castelfidardo. — Ancona Capitulates. — The Maronites of the Lebanon. — Conversions in Bulgaria. — Hostility of the French Government. — The Canonization of the Japanese Martyrs 244 . CHAPTER X. The Polish Persecution. — Efforts of Pope Pius IX. — The Convention of September 15, 1894. — The Encyclical Quanta Cura and the Syllabus. — Prussia's Progress in Germany. — France Evacuates Rome. — The Centenary of St. Peter. — Canonization of the Martyrs of Gorcum. — Garibaldi renews his Attempts on Rome. — Bad Faith of the Sardinians. — The French return. — Mentana and the Defeat of Garibaldi 273 CHAPTER XI. The Golden Jubilee of Pius IX.— The Bull iEterni Patris Convoking the General Council. — The Council of the Vatican . . 302 CHAPTER XII. Victor Emmanuel invades the Papal Territory. — He takes Rome with an Army of Sixty Thousand Men. — Pius IX. a Prisoner. — His Encyclical denouncing the Act 333 CHAPTER XIII. The Prisoner of the Vatican. — The Law of Guarantees. — The Encyclical of May, 1871, condemning it. — Peter's Pence. — Its Employment. — The Years of Peter. — The Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his Election and Coronation 354 CHAPTER XIV. Victor Emmanuel in Rome. — Seizure of the Quirinal. — Devotion of the. Romans to Pius IX. — Persecution of the Church in Germany and Switzerland. — The Sacred College. — An Irish Cardinal. — Persecution in Brazil, Russia, and Italy. — An American Cardinal. — The Golden Jubilees 379 CHAPTER XV. Personal Appearance of Pius IX. — His Mode of Life. — Supernatural Gifts ascribed to Him. — Conclusion 424 Father Burke on Pius IX 441 Digitized by Google.

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A brief history of papal infallibility

In November 1874, William Ewart Gladstone, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom who was destined to occupy that lofty office three more times in his long political career, published a pamphlet with the ominous title “The Vatican Decrees in Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance.”

An Anglican with intensely held though frequently shifting religious views, Gladstone sharply criticized what the Catholic Church’s recent ecumenical council had taught about papal infallibility and suggested it raised doubts about Catholics’ loyalty to the British Crown. The pamphlet sold more than 150,000 copies before the end of the year and was soon followed by a second pamphlet defending the first and replying to its critics.

One of the most prominent critics was Father John Henry Newman, a convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism who years later was named a cardinal (and recently a saint). He replied to Gladstone in a vigorously written piece called “A Letter to the Duke of Norfolk” (the duke being a ranking Catholic member of the British establishment in Victorian England). Today the letter still stands as a model of Catholic apologetics.

Before Vatican Council I and Pope Pius IX formally defined the doctrine of papal infallibility, Newman had fretted that the time wasn’t ripe for doing that. In the face of Gladstone’s attack, however, he leaped to the doctrine’s defense. Just as the Church is divinely preserved from error in the core elements of its faith, he argued, so is its supreme teacher, the pope: “Such then being … the infallibility of the Church, such too will be the pope’s infallibility, as the Vatican Fathers have defined it.”

Today, 150 years after Vatican Council I, these events are worth recalling for their own interest as well as for the light they shed on issues still facing the Church. What is infallibility? What does it mean to say the pope has taught something infallibly? What is the extent of papal infallibility, and what are its limitations?

Defining infallibility

The idea of papal infallibility had been widely accepted in the Church for centuries before Vatican I. Those holding it included theological giants like St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and St. Robert Bellarmine in the 17th century. Pius IX, pope from 1846 to 1878, spoke of it soon after his election as pope in an encyclical called Qui Pluribus. The papacy, he wrote, was established by God “to establish and teach the true and legitimate meaning of his heavenly revelation and to judge infallibly all disputes that concern matters of faith and morals” (Qui Pluribus, No. 10).

In 1854, Pius IX invoked infallibility in defining — that is, formally teaching as something revealed by God and to be held as a matter of faith — the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Significantly, he consulted the world’s bishops before issuing this definition, and the vast majority replied favorably. Then, in a document published Dec. 8, 1854, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the pope said, “We declare, pronounce and define” — a formula clearly identifying what followed as infallible teaching — the doctrine that Mary from the moment of her conception was “preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” This truth, he added, was “revealed by God and … firmly and constantly to be believed by all the faithful.”

The years that followed weren’t easy ones for Pope Pius. Having come to office as a moderate, reforming pope, he was forced into an increasingly conservative posture by events that included the seizure of the Papal States by the largely anticlerical Italian nationalist movement (many of whose leaders were Masons) the assassination of one of his closest advisors, whose funeral was disrupted and his body thrown into the Tiber River and an uprising in Rome that forced him to flee for his life, only returning under the protection of French troops.

Restored to the See of Peter, historian James Hitchcock writes, Pius IX henceforth regarded many of the ideas and movements of the modern age with “unrestrained loathing.” In 1864 — once again on Dec. 8 — that negative view of modernity found expression in an encyclical entitled Quanta Cura and especially in a long document attached to it called the “Syllabus of Errors.”

The “Syllabus” (or summary) was a collection of 80 propositions that the pope condemned. Their subjects ranged from pantheism, naturalism and absolute rationalism, through socialism, communism and secret societies, to errors pertaining to Christian marriage. The last — and as history has shown, most famous — of the 80 propositions was this: “The Roman pontiff can and should reconcile and adapt himself to [and come to terms with] progress, liberalism and the modern culture.”

Considering the contents of “progress, liberalism and the modern culture” as Pius IX had experienced them and now condemned them in the preceding 79 propositions, it is hard to see anyone could have expected him to “reconcile and adapt” himself to them. But almost without exception the secular response to Quanta Cura and “The Syllabus of Errors” was a chorus of jeers and cries of outrage. The documents were publicly burned in some places, while in France bishops were threatened with arrest if they caused the pope’s words to be read from the pulpit.

The Catechism goes on to say that it’s the task of the teaching authority to preserve the people of God from “deviations and defections” and thus make it possible for them to profess the Faith “without error.” For this purpose, it adds, Christ endows the pope and bishops with “the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals.”

The Catechism then goes on to quote Vatican Council II on the infallibility of the pope and the bishops teaching in union with him, “above all in an ecumenical council.” Members of the Church have a duty to adhere to such an exercise of infallibility “with the obedience of faith,” it says (CCC, Nos. 889-891).

Opposing views

This painting of the Council of Trent is featured in the Museo del Palazzo del Buonconsiglio. Laurom/Wikimedia Commons

Pius IX was not a man to back down. Now he began to consider convening an ecumenical council — a gathering of the bishops of the world — for the first time since the 16th century at the Council of Trent. As planning proceeded, it became clear that at the top of the council’s agenda would be papal authority, including the infallibility of the pope.

Most bishops had no problem with that. But some did, especially bishops in France, Germany and Austria-Hungary. In some quarters there was even talk of trying to get secular governments to intervene to prevent the council from taking place. Prominent in the opposition were two Frenchmen, Archbishop Georges Darboy of Paris and Bishop Felix Dupanloup of Orleans, along with Bishop Joseph Strossmayer of Djakovo in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whom historian Owen Chadwick calls a “larger-than-life personality” and the opposition’s leading figure.

As time passed, another group also emerged — the so-called “inopportunists” who accepted the idea of infallibility in principle but held that this was not the time for a formal definition of the doctrine — mainly because it faced too much opposition in non-Catholic circles. In England, Newman was one of these.

Cardinal Henry Edward Manning

But Archbishop, later Cardinal, Henry Edward Manning of Westminster, like Newman a convert from Anglicanism, was a prominent supporter of defining papal infallibility. And, as that suggests, still another group of Catholics looked forward happily to the prospect of a definition. These were the ultramontanists, people accustomed to seeking guidance in religious matters “beyond the mountains” (that is, the Alps) in Rome. Their attitude was summed up by one wit who said he would be glad to receive a new papal declaration every morning together with his copy of the London Times.

And so the stage was set for Vatican I. The council opened at the end of 1869 — the date, once more, was Dec. 8 — with more than 700 of the Church’s 1,000 bishops in attendance.

Although the number later fell to around 600, Vatican I was the Church’s largest council ever up to that time. Europeans made up about two-thirds of the assembly. But reflecting Catholicism’s geographical expansion in the previous three centuries, there were 67 bishops from the U.S. and Canada, 21 from Latin America, 15 each from China and India, and 18 from Australia and the Pacific.

On the central question before them, Owen Chadwick writes that the majority had no objection to declaring the pope infallible since the doctrine was “so widely believed in the Church and had behind it a historic tradition.” The opponents numbered about 150, including both inopportunists and those who simply didn’t accept the idea as true.

Vatican I also was the occasion for something new in the history of ecumenical councils: determined efforts on both sides to influence public opinion by media leaks.

Trent had been an open affair. By contrast, the organizers of Vatican I attempted to keep its deliberations secret. This was unrealistic from the start, since there was no way of hiding what took place at a meeting of six or seven hundred bishops busily debating matters of substantial public interest from the large press corps assembled to chronicle the event. But even so a sudden outbreak of inside-the-council published reports came as an unpleasant surprise to the Vatican.

An engraving depicting the First Vatican Council in 1869. Public domain

Result and end of the council

Soon, too, the leaks took on a decidedly ideological slant, representing opposed views of Vatican I’s agenda and, especially, papal infallibility.

This development began with Lord John Acton, a well-born 36-year-old British liberal Catholic who’d studied history in Munich under eminent, liberal Church historian Father Johannes Dollinger. Acton picked up information from French, German and English bishops opposed to infallibility and relayed it to Dollinger in a series of letters, which the historian edited and published in a German periodical under the title “Letters from Rome on the Council by Quirinus.” The result, says Chadwick, “gave Europe a picture of an unscrupulous majority tyrannizing over minds and consciences.”

But Pope Pius was no dummy. Seeing what was going on, he instructed a monsignor who was present at the council to provide a running account to a highly conservative French journalist named Louis Veuillot. The results, in Veuillot’s hands, appeared in reports that consistently denounced the anti-infallibility minority while supporting the pro-infallibility majority. Acton’s project shaped sophisticated Europeans’ view of Vatican I while Veuillot’s reached a different but no less important audience: French and Italian clergy and conservative laity who were moved to question their bishops on whether they supported the infallibility of the pope.

In the end, the question for the council was not whether to uphold papal infallibility but how to formulate the pope’s role — as a mouthpiece for an ecumenical council or as the Church’s supreme teacher exercising his own authority to define the faith. Vatican I’s relatively moderate wording is found in a dogmatic constitution entitled Pastor Aeternus (“The Eternal Shepherd”).

This constitution states: “And so, faithfully keeping to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for the salvation of Christian peoples, we, with the approval of the sacred council, teach and define that it is a dogma revealed by God:

“That the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra — that is, when acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians — he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter the infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed in defining the doctrine concerning faith or morals and that such definitions of the Roman pontiff are therefore irreformable of themselves, not because of the consent of the Church.”

The council adopted Pastor Aeternus by a vote of 533 to 2 on July 18, 1870. Before the vote, 56 bishops of the minority left Rome so as not to have to vote on the document. One of the two negative votes was cast by an American, Bishop Edward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Arkansas, who after the balloting reportedly knelt before Pius IX and said, “Modo credo, sancte pater” — “Now I believe, Holy Father.”

No sooner had the council taken its crucial vote than the Franco-Prussian War erupted. The French garrison in Rome was withdrawn to fight the Prussians, the bishops hastened home, and the ecumenical council was suspended, never to be reconvened. The Italian nationalist army soon entered the city and claimed it for the Italian state. Pope Pius IX thereupon withdrew behind the Vatican walls, declaring himself “the prisoner of the Vatican” — a title that he and his four immediate successors would claim for the next half-century. Pius IX was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000.

The Second Vatican Council

In the years after Vatican I, the stature and moral authority of the papacy grew significantly, but only one pope, Pius XII, formally invoked the power of papal infallibility. The occasion was the definition of the dogma of the Assumption. More than 200 bishops had requested this at the First Vatican Council, and Pope Pius XII canvassed the bishops of the entire world before taking the step. Then, on Nov. 1, 1950, he declared it to be “divinely revealed dogma” that the Virgin Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (Munificentissimus Deus, No. 44)

So matters stood until the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65. Picking up where Vatican I had left off, Vatican II’s theological centerpiece was the dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (“The Light of Peoples” — that is, Christ). In section 25 the council reaffirms the infallibility of the pope when defining a doctrine of faith and morals, adding that such exercises of papal infallibility do not require “the approval of others” and cannot be appealed.

Pope John XXIII leads the opening session of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 11, 1962. CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo

In that same section, Vatican II also says something else: “The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme teaching office.” This they do, Lumen Gentium declares, either when defining a doctrine together with the pope in an ecumenical council, or when, dispersed throughout the world but in union with one another and the pope, they teach, as part of their “ordinary magisterium” (teaching authority), that something is “to be held definitively and absolutely.”

Expanding on that, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992 by the authority of Pope St. John Paul II, says:

“The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed” (No. 2035)

Potentially, this opens up a whole new area for theological exploration: What doctrine or doctrines have already been infallibly taught — are being taught now — by the ordinary magisterium of the world’s bishops in union with the pope? Is this the case, for example, with things like the teachings on abortion and contraception? When is it prudent to declare such teaching infallible and when, arguably, is it not?

The theologians, you might say, have their work cut out for them.

Russell Shaw is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.

“The Church has the office of teaching, and the matter of that teaching is the body of doctrine, which the Apostles left behind them as her perpetual possession. If a question arises as to what the Apostolic doctrine is on a particular point, she has infallibility promised to her to enable her to answer correctly. …

“The pope must come before us in some special form or posture, if he is to be understood to be exercising his teaching office, and that form is ex cathedra. … But what is to be that moral cathedra, or teaching chair, in which the pope sits, when he is to be recognized as in the exercise of his infallible teaching?

“The new definition [by Vatican Council I] answers this question. He speaks ex cathedra, or infallibly, when he speaks, first, as the Universal Teacher secondly, in the name and with the authority of the Apostles thirdly, on a point of faith or morals fourthly, with the purpose of binding every member of the Church to accept and believe his decision.”


Acta Pii IX (Rome, 1854-78) Acta Sancta Sedis (Rome, 1865 sq.) RIANCEY, Recueil des allocutions consistoriales (Paris, 1853 sq.) Discorsi del Sommo Pont. Pio IX (Rome, 1872-8) MAGUIRE, Pius IX and his Times (Dublin, 1885) TROLLOPE, Life of Pius IX (London, 1877) SHEA, Life and Pontificate of Pius IX (New York, 1877) BRENNAN, A Popular Life of Our Holy Father Pope Pius IX (New York, 1877) O'REILLY, Life of Pius IX (New York, 1878) MCCAFFREY, Hist. of the Cath. Church in the Nineteenth Century, I (Dublin, 1909) LYONS, Dispatches resp. the condition of the Papal States (London, 1860) BALLERINI, Les Premiéres pages du pontificat de Pie IX (Rome, 1909) POUGEOIS, Histoire de Pie IX, son pontificat et son siècle (Paris, 1877-86)VILLEGRANCHE, Pie IX, sa vie, son histoire, son siècle (Paris, 1878) SAGèS, SS. Pie IX, sa vie, ses écrits, sa doctrine (Paris, 1896) ROCFER, Souvenirs d'un prélat romain sur Rome et la cour pontificale au temps de Pie IX d(Paris, 1896) VAN DUERM, Rome et la Franc-Maçconnerie (Brussels, 1896) GILLET, Pie IX, sa vie, et les actes de son pontificat (Paris, 1877) RÜTJES, Leben, wirken und leiden Sr. Heiligkeit Pius IX (Oberhausen, 1870) HÜLSKAMP, Papst Pius IX in seinem Leben und Wirken (Münster, 1875) STEPPISCHNEGG, Papst Pius IX und seine Zeit (Vienna, 1879) WAPPMANNSPERGER, Leben und Wirken des Papst Pius IX (Ratisbon, 1879) NÜRNBERGER, Papsttum und Kirchenstaat, II, III (Mainz, 1898-1900) MAROCCO, Pio IX (Turin, 1861-4) MOROSI, Vita di SS. Pio papa IX (Florence, 1885-6) BONETTI, Pio IX ad Imola e Roma&mdashMemorie inedite di un suo famgiliare segreto (Rome, 1892) CESARE, Roma e lo stato del Papa dal ritorno di Pio IX al 20 Settembre (Rome, 1906).

Pope Pius IX - History

Pope Pius IX, was the church's longest reigning pope by far, 31.5 years 5 more than the runner up, John Paul II for whom Pius IX was a personal idols.
"Pio Nono" -- as many in Italy call him --is the pope who declared that when popes speak in their special capacity as God's substitute on earth (that's what "Vicar of Christ" means) they speak infallibly. And pious Roman Catholics believe that this man couldn't be wrong about this because, as he said, he was infallible! The Vatican holds "Pio Nono" in such high esteem that they are well on their way to making him a "saint", i.e. a model for Catholics and especially popes to imitate.

. . . "The notion of Jewish obstinacy was a crucial element in the case of Edgardo Mortara (also spelled "Montara"). When the parents of the kidnapped Edgardo pleaded in person with the Pope for the return of their son, Pio Nono told them that they could have their son back at once if only they converted to Catholicism -- which, of course, they would do instantly if they opened their hearts to Christian revelation. But they would not, and did not. The Mortaras, in the view of Pio Nono, had brought all their suffering upon their own heads as a result of their obduracy. (p. 27)
(from the book "Hitler's Pope, The Secret History of Pius XII", by the Catholic scholar, John Cornwell)

"Pius IX's public response to the outcry was published worldwide. To a Jewish delegation he said, 'The newspapers can write all they want. I couldn't care less about what the world thinks.' And to the Jews, partly released from the Jewish Ghetto, he added this threat, 'Take care. I could have made you go back into your hole.' To back up his words, he once again confided the Jews to the ghetto area of the city, and rescinded their civil rights. In 1870, Pius IX publicly declared them to be 'dogs. . there are too many of them in Rome, and we hear them howling in the streets.' "[ http://www.sdadefend.com/History/pius_ix.htm ]

Pope Pius IX, whose lengthy ruled lasted from 1846 to 1878, restored most of the onerous restrictions of the past against the Jews within the Vatican state. All Jews under Papal control were confined to Rome's ghetto -- the last one in Europe until the Nazis recreated ghettos in the 1930s.--
Pope John Paul II thought so highly of Pius IX that in the year 2000 he had him beatified -- the last step before sainthood --. If and when that happens, in the light of the above and of recent events, maybe they could make Pio Nono "the patron saint of clerical pedophiles and / or kidnappers", as this is the example set by this "infallible saint" .
Among other debatable canonizations for which Pius IX was that of sixteenth-century Spain's notorious grand inquisitors, Don Pedro Arbues de Epilae. He was considered a martyr (witness to the Catholic faith) after some of the family of his Jewish victims managed to assassinate him -- and then suffered grievously themselves.-- It was the conviction of the great liberal theologian of that time, Father Dollinger, that canonizing the inquisitor "served the pope's campaign of riding roughshod over liberal Catholics as well as Jews. The pope was celebrating a man who had sanctioned compulsory baptism of Jews, then inflicted judicial torture to make sure these conversions were sincere.
[ See http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1725&letter=A and the article below: ]

An interesting summary of Pius IX's papacy :

"Pope Pius IX ascended to the papacy in 1846. After the death of Pope Gregory XVI, the College of Cardinals faced a difficult decision in electing the next pope. Many Cardinals in the Conclave supported Cardinal Lambruschini, whose extreme opposition to liberalism would have kept Gregory XVI's conservative and prudent Church policies alive. Others sought to elect a liberal and conciliatory pope in order to counter Pope Gregory XVI's confrontational policies with the government. The Conclave chose the latter, and elected Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, who chose the name Pius IX. Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti had been well-liked by Pope Gregory XVI despite the Cardinal's liberalism in terms of Church reform and relations with the secular Italian government. Indeed, Pope Gregory XVI once declared that even Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti's cats were liberals.
Pope Pius IX appeared to live up to his liberal and progressive reputation immediately following his election to the Chair of Saint Peter. The Papal States were dangerously close to revolution due to Italian nationalism, and he promised reforms and changes in order to restore stability. He was responsible for the introduction of railroads into Rome and the reformulation of tariff laws in order to improve trade. He installed gas-powered street lighting in Rome, apportioned a share of the papal charities for the Jews, and abolished the law which required Jews to attend weekly Catholic sermons. He coupled this program of economic and social reform with political reforms of the same magnitude. The pope incorporated democracy into the governing of the Papal States by appointing lay persons to the government of the Church. He allowed exiled revolutionaries to return to the Papal States, and even approved a new constitution that gave an elected body of laymen the power to veto the pope. Protestant leaders from all over Europe congratulated Pius IX, and Italian nationalists dubbed the pope "the most important man in Italy."
The pope seemed to be conceding to the wishes of Italian nationalists who cried in thanksgiving for his reforms: "Viva Italia! Viva Pio Nono!" Liberal Italians expected these policies to continue so that the secular government could gain more power and ultimately become completely separated from the Church. However, Pope Pius IX considered these changes to be the completion of his reforms. When the pope rejected further demands, his popularity waned. He had excited the Italian nationalists with his promises of reform, but he was not prepared to fulfill all of their expectations. The consequence was disappointment and bitterness.
In 1848, revolutions erupted throughout Europe. Italy went to war in order to expel Austria from Italy, but the Italians treated the war more like a crusade than a political war. When the Italians called for the Pope to lead their "crusade," he gave an address in which he explained papal policy in relation to Italy. His new policies took a sharp turn and began to resemble those of his conservative predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI, causing the Italian people to feel betrayed. In his address to the College of Cardinals, Pius IX stated that he would have no part in this war and that he would send no troops to Austria:
When there was revolution over Europe, I sent troops to guard the frontiers. But when some demanded that these troops join with other [Italian] states to war against Austria, I must say solemnly, that I abhor the idea. I am the Vicar of Christ, the author of peace and lover of charity, and my office is to bestow an equal affection on all nations.
According to one authority, this statement to the College of Cardinals "was a douche of icy water on the overheated enthusiasm which had surrounded his first two years as pope."
Pius IX went from being one of the most loved men in Italy to one of the most hated, and this public resentment eventually led to exile. He lost all control over Rome, and Pellegrino Rossi, his Prime Minister, was murdered in November of 1848. The Pope sensed grave danger and, disguised as an ordinary priest, fled to Gaeta in the Neapolitan territory. As revolution continued in Rome and an anti-clerical regime took control, Pius IX called for the Catholic powers of the world to reclaim Rome on his behalf and to restore the power of his office. In July of 1849, French troops re-conquered Rome for the Pope, and he once again took power in April of 1850.
On his return to Rome, Pius IX blamed tendencies such as liberalism and centralized democracy for the Italian Revolution and for his exile. As a result, he believed for the rest of his life that conceding in good faith to the political ideals of democracy only paved the way for revolution. The revolution of 1848 caused the pope to turn against constitutionalism, and he also condemned many of his past reforms which the Italian nationalists had praised. After his return to power, his "liberal honeymoon was over."
Pope Pius IX subsequently issued the Syllabus of Errors in which he listed the modernist errors of his time, including the separation of Church and State. He also condemned the notion that "the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization." In addition to condemning these errors, he tightened his reins on the government of the Church with the definition of the dogma of papal infallibility in the First Vatican Council. No longer would he embrace the modernist and liberal tendencies in the world, but he would condemn and oppose them wherever they existed.
A decade after Pope Pius IX's renunciation of liberalism, the United States was being torn apart by a similar clash of ideals. Industrialization and technology widened the gap between the progressive North and agrarian South to the point where the two seemed incompatible. To some, and especially to Pope Pius IX, the clash between these two cultures resembled the revolution which had taken place a decade earlier in Italy, where those who favored democracy vied for control of one of the oldest and most conservative institutions in Europe: the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, there were direct political ties between post-revolution Italy and ante-bellum America in that Pope Pius IX's reforms were welcomed by progressives in the United States.
Sympathy and support for Pope Pius IX's reforms in the early years of his papacy were main factors for America's recognition of the Papal States. Additionally, the increased Italian support of the concepts of democracy, liberalism, and a free Church in a free state excited secular Americans and aligned many of them with the agenda of the Italian nationalists.18 In a Philadelphia public meeting addressed to Pope Pius IX, Robert Tyler, a vice president of the meeting, offered the following resolution concerning the changes that were taking place in Italy: "The liberal movement now in progress in Italy under the example and auspices of the Papal Sovereign, awakens in the breasts of the American People, the deepest interest, sympathy, and respect."
In a letter addressed to this public meeting, the Honorable Lewis Cass stated that if Pope Pius IX were to continue with his liberal spirit, "he will become the man of his age." Similar to the North's approval of the Italian reforms, the Italian nationalists also sympathized with many Northern ideals. With the exception of the Catholic clergy, nearly all of Italy rallied behind the Union and their ideals during the Civil War.
Though the North often celebrated what the Catholic Church considered to be liberalism, many Southerners feared these tendencies. As a Charleston newspaper of the time explained, the South believed that a centralized, liberal democracy would destroy their agrarian culture and way of life through rampant industrialization."
[ from a Southern U.S. conservative blog : http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2007-01150rebels_in_rome.htm ]

Another outstanding Catholic historian who offers some great insights on the ramifications of the claims of papal infallibility is James Carroll. In his monumental work "Constantine's Sword, The Church and the Jews", Carroll shows how Pope Pius IX's anti-modernism, anti-semitism and his famous battle with the German theologian, Dollinger were all intertwined:

"Holy See" ?
Isn't it amusing how English-speaking Catholic churchmen insist on translating the Latin "Sancta Sedes" into the meaningless "Holy See", instead of the correct, but silly sounding "Holy Seat"?

"Later, in articles and speeches, especially after Pius IX's campaign against modernism was in full swing, [The leading German Catholic theologian and professor of Church History at the U. of Munich Johann von Dollinger] condemned the ways that the modern errors against which the pope had set the Church were so cavalierly identified with Jews. Dollinger shrewdly analyzed the long history of Church abuse of Jews, drawing the connection between antisemitism and a Christian pursuit of power. 'The fate of the Jewish people,' he wrote, 'is perhaps the most moving drama in the history of the world.' Reflecting on his own era, Dollinger set himself against the dominant twin motif of Church resistance to revolution defined as Jewish socialism and Church resistance to materialism defined as Jewish greed.
Dollinger railed against Pius IX's decision in 1867 to raise to sainthood one of sixteenth-century Spain's notorious grand inquisitors, Don Pedro Arbues de Epilae. According to Kornberg, it was Dollinger's conviction that canonizing the inquisitor 'served the pope's campaign of riding roughshod over liberal Catholics. The pope was celebrating a man who had sanctioned compulsory baptism of Jews, then inflicted judicial torture to make sure these conversions were sincere. [ See http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1725&letter=A ] Dollinger saw the origins of the Inquisition in a drive to enhance the papacy's `worldly dominion and compulsory power over the lives and property of men. . . In this sense, the decree on Papal Infallibility was the logical culminating point of the Inquisition' Not surprisingly, given such an attitude, Dollinger openly opposed the Vatican Council's decree on infallibility, and was promptly excommunicated (in 1871) for doing so. His position, however, was clear. As Kornberg sums it up, 'Dollinger had linked medieval anti-Jewish hostility to the papacy's coercive temporal and religious dominion as well, thus emphasizing that Jews and liberal Catholics had a common enemy. Hatred of Jews was nourished by the same survivals of the Middle Ages that had produced the triumphs of Ultramontanism, the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and the decree on Papal Infallibility (1870), namely the belief that `we alone are in possession of the full saving truth,' coupled with a lack of respect for the `right of independent action' of others.'
One of the things that makes the Dollinger episode another of those all too rare sanctuaries of a better way in this otherwise unrelieved narrative is the fact, as Kornberg puts it, that this German Catholic theologian 'considered nineteenth-century Catholic anti-Jewish hostility no inevitable outcome of Catholic doctrine, but rather the result of Ultramontanism's fortress mentality. Not `essential' Catholicism, but those who wished to prevent Catholics from being contaminated by modern ideas, had made an unholy alliance with antisemitism.
In 1881, Dollinger delivered an address to the 'festal meeting' of the Academy of Munich, a major convocation of German Catholic intellectuals. His subject was 'The Jews in Europe,' and his purpose, as he said at the beginning of his remarks, was 'to show how the skein [of Jew hatred] was gradually twisted which none at the present day can hope to unravel.' But attempt to unravel it he did. After a long description of the very history we have traced in this book, Dollinger returned to the baseline source of Christian antisemitism: 'The false and repulsive precept that mankind is perpetually called upon to avenge the sins and errors of the forefathers upon the innocent descendants, has ruled the world far too long, and has blotted the countries of Europe with shameful and abominable deeds, from which we turn away in horror.' As a historian, he had set for himself a purpose I attempt to emulate here, to show 'how History, the guide of life, points to her mirror in which past errors are reflected as warnings against fresh mistakes which may be impending. ' Little did he know.
Dollinger was unusual. Far more than from within the Church, opposition to Pius IX's absolutist claims came from outside, and nowhere more violently than in Germany, where the complaint had nothing to do with the Church's antisemitism." [p.484]

See much more on the horrendous role of the Roman Catholic Church not just during the holocaust, but leading up to it and following it at
The REAL Roman Catholic Scandal
See also major Reviews of "Hitler's Pope", by John Cornwell. &
the entire book dedicated to The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, by David I. Kertzer

How can ANY Christian imagine that Jesus would choose men like Pius IX to be his personal representatives on earth ?

According to Matthew, ch. 18: 1-7 :

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!

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