Pope Pius IX

Blessed Pope Pius IX (May 13, 1792 – February 7, 1878), born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was Pope from June 16, 1846, until 1878. His was the longest reign in Church History lasting almost 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed Papal infallibility. The Pope defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, meaning that Mary was conceived without original sin.


Politically, the pontificate after 1848, was faced with revolutionary movements not only in Italy but throughout Europe. Initially Pius was very liberal, freeing all political prisoners of his predecessor, and granting Rome a constitutional framework. He turned conservative after assassinations (e.g. of his Minister of the Interior, Pellegrino Rossi), terrorist acts, and the 1848 revolution in Italy, France and Germany. He had to flee Rome in 1848 for a short time and lost the Papal states permanently to Italy in 1870. He refused to accept an Law of Guarantees from Italy, which would have made the Vatican dependent on reliable Italian financing for all times to come. His Church policies towards other countries, such as Russia,Germany and France, were not always successful, due in part, to changing secular institutions and internal developments within these countries. Concordats were concluded with numerous states such as Austria-Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Tuscany, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti.

Several contempory Catholic scholars agree that Pope Pius was a deeply revered and even beloved Pope by Catholics world-wide in his time. However he was truly disliked and even hated as well by non-Catholic forces at the time, which may have contributed after 1848 to anti-Catholic persecutions and legislation in several countries. A dislike of him continues today in the evaluations by some Church historians and journalists His appeal for public world-wide support - Peter's Pence - after he became "The prisoner of the Vatican" was sufficient to support the papacy for decades to come. In his Syllabus of Errors, highly controversial at the time, Pius IX stood up against what he considered heresies of secular society, especially relativism. He was a Marian Pope, who in his encyclical Ubi Primum defined in Mary as a Mediatrix of salvation. In 1854, he defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, reflecting a long held Catholic faith, that Mary, the Mother of God, was conceived without original sin. In 1862, he convened three-hundred bishops to the Vatican for the canonization of Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan. His most important legacy is the First Vatican Council, which convened in 1869. It discussed an number of issues, defined the dogma of papal infallibility, but had to be interrupted indefinitely as Italian military forces moved towards Rome. The council is considered to have contributed to a strengthening and centralization of the Catholic Church. Pius IX, a most conservative pope is paradoxically considered the first modern pope, as the papacy grew in importance and relevance after the 1870 fall of the Papal States, a process, which began in the last years of his pontificate. He contributed to this development with his impeccable life-style and clear teachings. Pius IX was considered the most beloved and popular pope of the 19th century.

Pius IX, who suffered from epilepsy, was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000. His Feast Day is February 7.

Early life and ministry

Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti was born in Senigallia into the noble family of Girolamo dei conti Ferretti, and was educated at the Piarist College in Volterra and in Rome. As a theology student in his hometown Sinigaglia he met in 1814 Pope Pius VII, who returned from French captivity. In 1815 he entered the Papal Noble Guard but was soon dismissed after an epileptic seizure. 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 which was later rescinded, after the attacks became less frequent. He was ordained in April 1819. He worked initially as the rector of the Tata Giovanni Institute in Rome. Shortly before his death, Pius VII sent him as Auditor to Chile and Peru in 1823 and 1825 to assist the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignore Giovanni Muzi, in the first mission to post-revolutionary South America. The mission had the objective to map out the role of the Catholic Church in the newly independent South American Republics. He was thus the first pope ever to have been in America. When he returned 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 Father Mastai-Ferretti as Archbishop of Spoleto, his own home-town in 1827, at the age of 35. 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. 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 Pietro e Marcellino. 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. According to historians, 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 election

The conclave of 1846, following the death of Pope Gregory XVI (1831–46), took place in an unsettled political climate within Italy. Because of this, many foreign Cardinals decided not to attend the conclave. At its start, only 46 out of 62 cardinals were present.

Moreover, the conclave of 1846 was steeped in a factional division between conservatives and liberals. The conservatives supported Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini, Gregory XVI's secretary of state. Liberals supported two candidates: Cardinal Pasquale Tommaso Gizzi and the 54 year-old Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti . During the first ballot, Mastai-Ferretti received 15 votes, the rest going to Cardinal Lambruschini and Cardinal Gizzi.

Faced with deadlock, liberals and moderates decided to cast their votes for Mastai-Ferretti—a move that was certainly contrary to 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 glamerous 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 Because it was night, no formal announcement was given, just the signal of white smoke. Many Catholics had assumed that Gizzi had been elected successor of St. Peter. In fact, celebrations began to take place in his home town, and his personal staff, following a long standing tradition, burned his cardinalatial vestments.

On the following morning, the senior Cardinal-Deacon Tommaso Riario Sforza, announced the election of Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti before a crowd of faithful Catholics. When Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti appeared on the balcony, the mood became joyous. Mastai-Ferretti chose the name Pius IX in honor of Pope Pius VII (1800–23), who had encouraged his vocation to the priesthood despite his childhood epilepsy.

However, Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti, now Pope Pius IX, had little diplomatic and no curial experience, which did cause some controversy. In fact, the government of the Empire of Austria as represented by Prince Metternich in its foreign affairs objected to even the possible election of Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti. Thus, Cardinal Gaisruck, Archbishop of Milan, was sent to present the official veto of Mastai-Ferretti. However, Cardinal Gaisruck arrived too late; the new Pope was already elected. Pius IX was crowned on 21 June 1846. After the coronation mass, he received the insignia of Pontiff and King. He chose Cardinal Gizzi as his Secretary of State.

Pius IX's papacy

The election of the liberal Pius IX created much enthusiasm in Europe and elsewhere. Celebrations and ovations were offered in several countries. Although he was not really known and had done nothing on an administrative level before his election, and although there were no utterances from him, he was soon the most notorious and popular person in the world. English Protestants celebrated him as a friend of light and e reformer of Europe towards freedom and progress It was noted that he was elected without political influences from outside, in the best years of his life, pious, progressive, intellectual, decent, friendly, open to everybody. Daily schedule His daily schedule was very frugal and almost monastic. After getting up at 5.30 A M every morning, he spent time in contemplation, followed by a Holy Mass which he celebrated and a Holy Mass which he attended. He received the Cardinal Secretary of State every morning followed by other guests. He undertook walks in the Vatican gardens, at times taking his visitors along. At 2 P.M., the Pontiff had lunch after which he prayed the rosary or the breviary. After additional audiences, at 5 P M he had a small dinner at 9 P M and went to bed at 10 P M.

Liberal reforms

‎ As liberal Europe applauded his election, he introduced political reforms on a broad scale. He initiated the construction of railways, and the installation of street lighting throughout Rome. He improved agricultural technology and productivity via farmer education in newly created scientific agricultural institutes. He abolished the requirements for Jews to attend Christian services and sermons and opened the papal charities to the needy of them. He gave much to charities, living like a pauper. The new pope freed all political prisoners by giving amnesty to revolutionaries, which horrified the conservative monarchies in Austria-Hungary and elsewhere Within one year of his election, he appointed an assembly of lay people to assist in the governing of the Papal States. His actions were applauded by Protestant statesman. He was celebrated in New York, London and Berlin as a model ruler.


Pius IX was the last pope who was also king. As king of the Papal States, he ruled over 3.000 000 people and conducted diplomatic relations with other sovereign states, the most important of which was Italy, which in 1870 ended the independent Papal States and reduced to papacy to a spiritual force.


As a liberal and aware of the political pressures within the Papal States, his first act of a general amnesty for political prisoners did not consider its potential implications and consequences: The freed revolutionaries went on with 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.

His initial policies created quite a sensation among Italian patriots, both at home and in exile, that is best exemplified by the following letter written by Giuseppe Garibaldi from Montevideo, Uruguay.

If these hands, used to fighting, would be acceptable to His Holiness, we most thankfully dedicate them to the service of him who deserves so well of the Church and of the fatherland. Joyful indeed shall we and our companions in whose name we speak be, if we may be allowed to shed our blood in defence of Pio Nono's work of redemption" (October 12 1847)
1848 revolution By early 1848, all of Western Europe began to be engaged in revolutionary activities. 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. His situation was further complicated by strong opposition to him and his policies within the Vatican and the Papal States, originating in the forces, which he had defeated in the papal election two years earlier. The Pope had appealed to the Austrian emperor to voluntarily cede the Italian provinces, which was rejected in Vienna, where the liberal policies of Pius IX were viewed with outright contempt. Pius appointed a liberal Pellegrino Rossi as his chief minister for the Papal States, which resulted in additional negative emotions now also directed against Rossi. In a calculated well-prepared move he was murdered on November 15, 1848, and following that the Swiss Guards disarmed, making the Pope to a prisoner in his Quirinal. In this public disorder, Pius IX was forced to concede a lay ministry with persons hostile to the Holy See, and a constitution. But public disorder grew, with repeated riots; Pius IX fled Rome and escaped in disguise as a regular priest to Gaeta on November 24, in the kingdom of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, leaving Rome to the radicals and the mob. Roman Republic A Roman Republic was declared in February 1849. The Pope responded from his exile by excommunicating all active participants. The Republic was openly hostile to the Catholic Church, celebrating Good Friday with huge fireworks on Saint Peter's Plaza and desecrating Saint Peter's Basilica on Easter Sunday with a secular Republican victory celebration. The public finances were spent liberally leading to an early financial disaster; palaces, convents and churches were searched for valuables and art work, which was liberally destroyed. In addition to the official plundering, private gangs roamed through the city and the countryside, murdering, raping and stealing and spreading fear among the citizens of the Papal States. French occupation In April 1849, General Oudinot's expeditionary force made its direct attack , and the Constituent Assembly in Rome passed a resolution of protest (May 7, 1849), French President Louis Napoleon (the future Napoleon III of France) encouraged Pius IX and assured him of reinforcements from France. The Pope appealed for support, and Napoleon&mdash, who had engaged in a liberal insurrection in the states of the church himself in 1831—now sent troops that crushed the republic (June 29), although Pius IX did not return to Rome until April 1850. The French troops remained in Rome to protect the status quo until 1870 (see September Convention), while the Risorgimento united the remainder of Italy, leaving the block of the Papal States in the center. Thus, for twenty years, the pope ruled the Church State under the protection of French military forces, a fact which further limited his popularity among fervent Italian nationalists.

His return to Rome was a triumph, as popular moods had swung once again in his favour. He was received amid cannon thunder, ringing of all Roman Church bells and large joyous crows along his route. He blessed the French troops, held a Te Deum and signalized his return to Rome by an extension of his 1846 amnesty and by a new Indulgence. He frequently repeated his main message that he had returned as a pastor not as an avenger, in urbem reverses pastor et not ultor. 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. Pius decided to move his residence from the Quirinal inside Rome to the Vatican, where popes lived ever since. He reformed the governmental structure of the Papal States on September 10, 1850 and its finances on October 28 in the same year. Later he cut his Papal States into twenty provincial units with 1219 communities. These reforms were important but did not have the liberal flavour of his activities before the 1848 revolution. The Cardinal Secretary of State Giacomo Antonelli was now heading a cabinet with five ministers of which three were lay persons. Still, one of the accusations against this regime was its overly clerical nature, with most important positions reserved for the clergy, however some cardinals at that time were not even priests, first of all Giacomo Antonelli.

The Papal States were coming under increased pressure from anti-papal nationalists—notably Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont (later king of Italy). The Pope was obliged to rely on foreign soldiers French and Austrian soldiers to maintain order and protect his territories. An army of volunteers was created in 1860: the papal zouaves (zuavi pontifici) under the command of general de La Moricière. They came from different countries, France, Holland (the majority), Belgium, Canada, England, even from the United States and from Italy as well.

Napoleon III and Cavour (Premier to Victor Emmanuel) agreed to war on Austria. Following the Battle of Magenta (July 4, 1859) the Austrian forces withdrew from the Papal States, precipitating their loss to Sardinia. Revolutionaries in Romagna called upon Piedmont for annexation. In February 1860, Victor Emmanuel II demanded Umbria and the Marches; when his demand was refused, he took them by force. End of the Papal States After defeating the papal army on September 18 at Castelfidardo, and on September 30 at Ancona, Victor Emmanuel took all the Papal territories except Latium with Rome. In September 1870, he seized Rome as well, making it the capital of a new united Italy after its capture on September 20. He granted Pius IX the Law of Guarantees (May 13, 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 3.25 million liras a year. Pius IX officially rejected this offer (encyclical Ubi nos, May 15 1871), retaining his claim to all the conquered territory. Although he was not forbidden or prevented from travelling as he wished, he called himself a prisoner in the Vatican. See also September Convention. With the end of the Papal States in 1870, Pope Pius IX was thus the last Pope to hold temporal powers.

The Law of Guarantees seemed on paper to many a reasonable solution after the Italian take-over of Rome. To the Pope it was a public relations farce because Catholic convents, churches and hospitals were seized for barracks, government offices and stables. While the person of the sovereign Pontiff was solemnly declared sacred and inviolable, the residence of Pius IX was surrounded by soldiers with loaded rifles, who would not permit the Pope even to show himself in public. Article Two provided that anybody attacking the image of the Pope would be punished, but, the Vatican pointed out, numerous groups and mobs denouncing the pope, and burning his effigy, were not punished in any way. The Black Nobility and most who held office in the Papal States lost their employment. Employees of papal institutes were dismissed. Pius IX, surrounded by loaded guns, declared the law of guarantees a hypocrisy and inequity and refused to accept Italian monthly stipends. I need money, it is true. My children throughout the world will meet my wants France When Pius IX assumed the papacy in 1846, French Catholics were divided into a moderate fraction under Charles Forbes René de Montalembert and a intransigent fraction under Louis Veuillot. The agreed on right to private schools, freedom of instruction, financial support by the State and a rejection of gallicanism. Pius addressed the French bishops with his encyclical Inter Multiplices, in which he asked for concord of mind and will among the French. Under Napoleon III, French Catholics got much of what they wanted. Napoleon III, because of his defense of the Papal States, was also seen as a defender of the Church and of Catholic interests. French religious life blossomed under Pius IX. Many French Catholics wished the dogmatization of Papal infallibility and the assumption of Mary in the forthcoming ecumenical council. The French bishops, with some notable exceptions were faithful to the Holy See. During the pontificate of Pius IX, some five Catholic Universities were founded in the cities of Lille, Angers, Lyon and Toulouse, in which the clerics were educated in a strict, although some argued, scientifically less than desirable manner. Great Britain England for centuries was labelled missionary country for the Catholic Church Pius IX changed all that with the Bull Universalis Ecclesiae (29 September 1850). He recreated a Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, under the newly appointed Archbishop and Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman with twelve additional Episcopal seats to start with. Southwark, Hexham, Beverly, Liverpool, Salford, Shrewsbury, Newport, Clifton, Plymouth, Nottingham, Birmingham and Northampton. The Church had become extinct with the death of the last Marian bishop in the reign of Elizabeth I. Some violent street protests against the papal aggression resulted in a law passed by the parliament on August 2, 1851, which at penalty of imprisonment and fines forbade any Catholic bishop in England or Ireland to take the title of his See. However the opposition was noise only and soon disappeared. The law stayed in the books but was not enacted.Netherlands A similar pronouncement followed for the Netherlands in 1853 After the Dutch government had reinstituted religious freedom in 1848. In 1853, Pius created an archdioceses in Utrecht with four dioceses in Haarlem, Den Bosch, Breda and Roermond under it. As in England, this resulted in a popular outburst of anti-catholic feeling among liberals, which as in England, soon subsided.Spain The traditionally Catholic Spain offered a challenge to Pius IX as anti-Catholic governments were in power since 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 occupy vacant bishop sees. In 1851, Pius IX concluded a concordat with Queen Isabella II, which stipulated that unsold Church properties were to be returned, while the Church renounced properties which already had passed owners. This flexibility of the Pope was responded to by Spain with articles guaranteeing the freedom of the Church in religious educations in schools and seminaries.


Due to the famine in Ireland, a large influx of immigrants from that country came to the US in the years 1845-1847. Together with German and Italian immigrants, the Catholic population increased from 4% at the beginning of the pontificate of Pius IX to 11% in the year 1870. Some 700 priests existed in the US in 1846 compared to 6000 in the year 1878. Pope Pius IX is credited with much of this positive development, because of his innovative foundations of new Church regions and the installation of excellent American bishops.

Pius IX is the father of much of the modern American Church structure by creating many existing dioceses and archdioceses in the USA such as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington , the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the Diocese of Providence, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio and others. Some of his creations do not exist anymore: On July 24, 1846, Pius IX divided the existing Oregon vicariate apostolic into three dioceses: Oregon City (Oregonopolitanus); Walla Walla (Valle Valliensis); and Vancouver Island (Insula Vancouver). On July 29, 1850, the Diocese of Oregon City was elevated to an archdiocese with Archbishop Blanchet continuing to serve as its first archbishop. In 1850, Pius IX erected seats at Monterey and Santa Fe in the Spanish-Mexican territories recently added to the United States and in Savannah, Wheeling, and Nesqualy, and made the Indian Territory a vicariate under a bishop Pius supported Diocesan synods and regular meetings and granted all wishes of the American bishops regarding enlargements of their rights and privileges. In 1849, from his exile in Gaeta, he politely turned down an invitation to visit the USA. “nothing could afford us more pleasure, nothing could be more grateful to our hearts than to enjoy the presence and conversation of yourself and the venerable brethren, …but in the existing times and circumstances, it would be impossible for us to comply with your invitation, as your wisdom will easily understand”

The enormous growth of the Catholic Church in the USA and the genuine admiration in the early years for his liberal pontificate resulted in diplomatic relations of the US with the Papal States on April 7, 1848 which lasted until 1867, when domestic pressures forced a closing. The Vatican never had an ambassador in Washington, because the US government refused to accept a Catholic priest as papal nuncio. During the American Civil War, Catholics oriented themselves to the archbishop of New York in the Union and to the archbishop of New Orleans in the Confederate States He pushed for an American College in Rome for future American priests and promised his personal support financing. A small one was founded in 1859 under Rev John McCloskey. It was greatly expanded under Pius XII in 1956. Abraham Lincoln had asked Pope Pius IX to elevate John Cardinal McCloskey as Archbishop of New York into the College of Cardinals Canada Under Pius IX, the Church expanded in Canada with equal success as in the USA. He increased Canadian dioceses from four to twenty-one dioceses with 1340 churches and 1620 priests in 1874. As in the USA, he supported regional councils and the erection of Catholic schools and health facilities, which were largely undertaken by female religious orders. Concordats Pius signed a number of concordats with Spain, Austria, Tuscany, Portugal, Haiti, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the above described Russia


During the pontificate of Pius IX, the Catholic Church began to flourish and expand after the 1848 revolution resulted in additional religious freedoms in Protestant areas. The German lay people formed Pius Vereine and numerous other organizations loyal to the papacy and willing to put into practice Catholic teachings in everyday life. The German bishops formed one of the first Catholic Bishop Conferences, which since November 16 1848, met annually ever since. The bishop conferences formulated requests to the German State and issued pastoral directives. The Pope welcomed this association, refused however to give permission for the holding of a German regional council. The Prussian constitution of 1850 guaranteed complete freedom to the Catholic Church.

Decisive military victories of Prussia against all German States and Austria in Austerlitz in 1866, and of the German Stated in Sedan against France in 1870 and the creation of Second German Empire in 1870 with a Protestant emperor were viewed in Berlin as a victory of Protestantism over Catholicism. The outcome of the First Vatican Council with the definition of Papal infallibility raised Protestant and liberal Catholic fears of papal interference in German affairs and resulted with the Kulturkampf by Otto von Bismarck in drastic restrictions for the Catholic Church in the areas of education, sermon preaching, the formation of its priests and the functions of bishops. Five of eleven Prussian bishops were arrested. Several Religious and religious congregations were outlawed and Jesuits had to leave the country with a law of July 7, 1872. They were only readmitted in 1917.

Catholics were considered loyal to the Pope and not to Germany did not have the same civil rights or access to government positions as did Germans of Protestant or Jewish faith. By 1878, two-thirds of the Catholic bishops were forcefully removed from their positions and over 1000 parishes were without priests. Germany attempted to further weaken the Catholic church but expropriating churches and institutions and turning them over to the Old Catholics, a small sect of liberal Catholics, which split from the main Church after Vatican One, without being able to gain much support despite of the official State interventions. The Protestant House of the Grand Duchy of Baden claimed the right not only to appoint Bishops but also Parish priests and other Catholic Church employees. The government declared, that Catholic seminarians must, before they could be ordained, undergo a State examination. Despite of protests by Pius IX, eighty-year old Archbishop Hermann von Vicari refused and was put on a criminal trial resulting in his 24 hour government supervision by the State Police. His priests were imprisoned, exiled or fined.

Despite of, or some say, because of the ongoing persecution, Catholicism in Germany actually got stronger. Its political representatives of the Centre Party gained in popularity and its press and local organizations flourished. After the death of Pius IX, von Bismarck attempted to make peace with his more diplomatic successor Pope Leo XIII and over time rescinded most but not all of the discriminatory legislation against the Catholic Church and populations. On May 27, 1887, Leo XIII announced the formal end of the Kulturkampf Austria The 1848 revolution had a mixed results on 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. Similarly 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 in 1870. Austria already in 1866 had nullified several of its sections concerning the freedom of Catholic schools and education and civil marriages. Pius IX after diplomatic approaches failed, responded with an encyclical on March 7, 1874, demanding religious freedom and freedom of education. despite of these developments, there was not equivalent to the German Kulturkampf in Austria, and Pius IX was able to create new Episcopal sees throughout Austria-Hungary. Switzerland In Switzerland, the freedom of Catholics was curtailed after 1847. Jesuits and other religious were expelled on July 20, 1847. Several institutes of education of Religious were closed as well as monasteries and convents. The 1848 law guaranteed religious freedom but the establishment of new Catholic monasteries and convents was outlawed. In some parts, it was illegal to read papal announcements, bishops and priests were to be elected by the local populations, Church properties were confiscated. The protests of Pius IX did not have any effects on the Swiss authorities at the time.Russia The Pontificate of Pius IX began in 1847 with an Accomodamento”, a generous agreement, which allowed the Pope to fill vacant Episcopal Sees of the Latin rites both in Russia (Baltic countries) and the Polish provinces of Russia. The short-lived freedoms were undermined by jealousies of the rival Orthodox Church, Polish political aspirations in the occupied lands, which often used Church buildings as cover and vehicle, and the tendency of imperial Russia, to act most brutally against any dissension. Pope Pius IX, who faced his own problems with revolutionary movements in his Church State, first tried to position himself in the middle, strongly opposing revolutionary and violent opposition against the Russian authorities, and, appealing to them for more Church freedom. After the failure of the Polish uprising in 1863, Pope Pius IX sided with the persecuted Poles, loudly protesting their persecutions, infuriating the Tsarist government to the point that all Catholic episcopal seats were closed by 1870. Pius loudly attacked the Tsar, without naming him for expatriating whole communities to Siberia, exiling priests, condemning them to labour camps, abolishing Catholic dioceses. He pointed to Siberian villages Tounka an Irkout , where in 1868, 150 Catholic priests were awaiting death.

King Pius IX

Pius IX was not only Pope but until 1870 also King of the Papal States. One of the most fervent contemporary critic of his infallibility dogma, Ignaz Döllinger, considered the political regime of the pope in the Papal States as wise, well-intentioned, mild-natured, frugal and open for innovations. Yet there was controversy. In the period before the 1848 revolution, King Pius IX was a most ardent reformer. After the revolution however, his political reforms and constitutional improvements were considered minimalists, remaining largely within the framework of the 1850 laws mentioned above

Governmental structure

The governmental structure of the Papal States reflected the dual spiritual-secular character of the papacy at the time. The secular or lay persons were strongly in the majority with 6850 persons versus 300 members of the clergy. But the clergy occupied the key decision making positions and every job applicant had to present a character evaluation from his Parish priests in order to be considered.

The Cardinal Secretary of State appointed and, or dismissed ministers of which three were lay people. Their decisions were subject to papal approvals. They were ministers for: Internal Affairs including Police and Health; Commerce, including trade, crafts and industry, agriculture, arts, railways; War, including the papal army; Clemency and Justice including police and the judiciary.


The financial administration in the Papal States under Pius IX were increasingly put in the hands of lay persons. The budget and financial administration in the Papal States had long been subject to criticism even before Pius IX. and did not end with his papacy. In 1850, he created a governmental finance congregation consisting of four lay persons with finance background for the twenty provinces. The chronic budget deficit disappeared by 1858. There was a steady increase in revenues stemming from the taxation of exports, imports and trade and a decrease in spending especially for the papal army. The tax burden of the citizens was far below European average, which resulted in an influx of foreign residents into Rome, many of them non-Catholics, which created local problems with religious services and their integration. The papacy reacted with new consumption taxes for luxury items and beer, and an exemption from real estate taxes of low-cost houses for long term residents. A problem after 1850 was the worthless paper money introduced by the revolutionary Republican government in 1848. It was accepted and exchanged at a lower value by the papal treasury.

The criticism of the economic policies of Pius IX included the argument, that the Pope maintained in Rome large areas for agriculture and forestry at the expense of potential industrial development. Supporters of Pius point to the increases in agro-industry during his leadership, especially in the areas of silk, olive oil and wine production and great productivity gains in agriculture, accredited in part to a scientific research institute and benevolent taxation, which permitted refinancing of existing debts.

Commerce and Trade

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 sea ports. A series of new railway links connected the Papal States to northern Italy. It became soon visible, that the Northern Italians were more adapt to exploit economically the modern means of communication that the inhabitants in central and Southern Italy. A growing discrepancy of income developed even poverty in the Papal States, which Pius IX tried to respond to with increased charities. This in turn made him subject to criticism of being too generous to lazy and apathetic populations, making them almost dependent on his social policies.

To increase commerce, Pius engaged in numerous and far-reaching agreements with neighbouring states but also with the Belgium, USA, Russia, France, and Prussia to reduce mutual tariffs, equal treatment of commercial entities and ships from different states, crime fighting and postal conventions Justice

The justice system of the Papal States was subject to numerous accusations at the time, not unlike the justice systems in the rest of Italy. There was a general lack of legal books and standards and accusations of partiality of the judges. Throughout Italy but also in the Papal States, mafia-type criminal bands threatened commerce and travellers in several regions, engaging in robbery and murder at will. This problem, immortalized by Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed, and vividly described by the English Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, existed long before Pius IX . In 1854, a reform was issued, intended to clarify jurisdiction. In 1859, Pius ordered the creation of a unified criminal code. He also ordered a reform of papal prisons and penal houses. The Police was put under the Secretary of State, and givin more authority and power. This contributed a significant reduction of crime but also to accusations of partiality. Military

A unique position was granted to the papal army, consisting almost exclusively of foreigners, since the Roman Black Nobility was not willing to serve, and the population resisted military service as well, despite of decent salary and promotion potential. A main but not only element was the Swiss Guard. The number of papal soldiers amounted to 15.000 in 1859. The numerous nationalities presented linguistic problems, their armament was not high on the priority list of Pius IX. During much of his pontificate, the military security was guaranteed by either Austria or France. However, the Austrian and French troops did not always behave like model Christians, creating resentments in the local population and furthering the nationalistic tendencies towards a unified Italy, free of any foreigners.


Liberals attacked Pius IX for his educational policies, which largely were a continuation of traditional Catholic education priorities with an accompanying neglect of the natural sciences on the primary and secondary level. Education was not mandatory in the Papal States, a fact, which some attributed to the low educational standards in comparison to other countries. Secondary education was largely in private hands, or in the control of Catholic institutes and Religious orders. Pius IX undertook innovative efforts: He created new schools for handicapped persons, and evening academies for persons to improve their education after working hours. He also created all-day schools for children, whose parents were absent during the working hours. To improve the overall situation, Pius IX created a ministry of education in 1851. Universities

The two papal universities in Rome and Bologna suffered much from the revolutionary activities in 1848 but their standards in the areas of science, mathematics, philosophy and theology were considered adequate. Pius recognized that much had to be done and instituted a reform commission in. He increased the powers of the Camerlengo and decided to personally appoint each head of the universities He increased the salaries of the university staff , increased staff positions and added geology, agriculture science, archaeology , astronomy, botany to the teaching areas. He created a new clinic for pregnant women to give birth, several museums and a papal astronomical observatory Theology students were subjected to more rigorous training. Theology students from foreign countries benefited from his financial support of German, French, Polish, South American, North American, English, and Irish seminaries, where they could study together. Social life There one newspaper Giornale di Roma and one periodical, Civilta Cattolica, run by Jesuits. When Marcantonio Pacelli, the grandfather of Eugenio Pacelli, approached Pius regarding a, official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano which actually prints what he Pope said and did the previous day, Pius turned him down. Pacelli published anyway, and Leo XIII bought it from him a few years later. The social life of Rome centred around the Roman clergy and black nobility, their affairs and scandals. Outsiders, Protestants of Jews, who came in ever increasing numbers into Rome, had little or no access to these inner circles. After the 1848 revolution, a sense of exclusion and of a lack of progress, contributed so the development of an alternative societies, consisting of numerous secret associations, some looking for social change, some conspirative or revolutionary in nature, others aiming at Italian unity, all of which were not tolerated by the government of the Papal States, which saw in them the very idea of a theocracy threatened.


Pius IX was a patron of the arts like most of his predecessors. The two theatres in Rome, were popular, in part because he exempted from any papal censorship. He generously supported all expressions of art, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, goldsmiths, coppersmiths and more, and handed out numerous rewards to its representatives. Much of his efforts were oriented to the Roman Churches but also in the Papal States, many of which were renovated and improved. Saint Peter Basilica got from him numerous improvements including the existing marble floors, and the two statues of the Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul at the Plaza. He restored profane buildings as well and ordered a renovation of the paintings in the Vatican. He greatly increased the Vatican library and added to the Vatican manufacturing a new factors for mosaics. The papal ministries were ordered to relocate into the centrally located Cancellaria to enable regular citizens access to papal officials. Restorations and discoveries Great efforts were undertaken to restore historic walls, fountains, streets and bridges. He ordered the excavation of Roman sites, which led to several major discoveries. He ordered the strengthening of the Coliseum which was threatened to collapse at the time. Huge sums were spent in the discovery of Christian catacombs, for which Pius created a new archaeological commission in 1853. A major success during his pontificate was the discovers of the Callisto catacombs, which included totally unknown tombs, texts and paintings. Outside of Rome, Pius restored Etruscan and ancient Roman monuments in Perugia, Ostia, Benevento, Ancona and Ravenna

Protestants and Jews

The Papal States were not a democracy but a theocracy, in which the Catholic Church and Catholics had more rights than members of other religions. Protestants and Jews were not admitted to the Papal government, to the social circles of Rome, nor did they have the same standings as members of the Catholic faith. The precise legal difference is difficult to pin down, as there existed no bill of rights or even a clear collection of laws in the Papal States at the time of Pius IX. Even ecclasiastical laws, Canon Laws were not formalized until 1917, some forty years after the death of Pope Pius IX.

Pius IX's relations with the Jews remain ambiguous. He repealed laws that forbade Jews to practice certain professions. He rescined laws, which required them to listen to sermons four times per year aimed at their conversion. Judaism and Catholicism were the only religions allowed by law (Protestant worship was allowed to visiting foreigners, but forbidden to Italians). Pius IX's policies changed over time: At the beginning of his pontificate, together with other liberal measures, Pius opened the Jewish ghetto in Rome. After returning from exile in 1850, during which the *Roman Republic issued sharp anti-Church measures, the Pope issued a series of anti-liberal measures, including re-instituting the Ghetto again.

Early in his pontificate, in 1847, Pius IX baptized four Roman Jews, and welcomed them personally with warm words into the Catholic Church.

A 1873 biography mentions his personal charity and indicates an implicit position against anti-semitism. The Pope, driven through Rome in his horse-drawn carriage,

Saw an old man lying on the street, seemingly without life near the Jewish quarter, the so-called Ghetto. At once he asked the coachmen to stop. He left the coach to find out what’s wrong with the old man. “He is a Jew”, some people said, without giving a helping hand. “What are you saying?”, asked the Pope visibly angry. “Aren’t Jews our fellow men, whom we have to help”? Then the Pope personally picked up the old man with the help of his assistant, took him into his carriage and drove him to his impoverished house, where he stayed with him and talked to him, until the old person felt better.

However, in a speech in 1871 - after losing temporal authority over Rome - he said of certain Jews of Rome (more specifically of the anticlerical activists among them): "of these dogs, there are too many of them at present in Rome, and we hear them howling in the streets, and they are disturbing us in all places."

In 1858, in a highly publicized case, a six-year-old Jewish boy, Edgardo Mortara, was taken from his parents by the police of the Papal States. He had reportedly been baptized by a Christian servant girl of the family while he was ill, because she feared that otherwise he would go to Hell if he died. At that time, the law did not permit Christians to be raised by Jews, even their own parents. Pius IX steadfastly refused "to extradite a soul Calls from The Times, numerous heads of state including Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary and Emperor Napoleon III of France and Ambassador Gramont to return the child to his parents, were politely rejected. The young boy according to his own testimony wanted to stay, writing to his mother: "I am baptized. My Dad is the Pope, I would like to live with my family, if only they would become Christian, and I pray that they will". In 1870, as Don Pius Mortara, ordained a Catholic priest, he entered a monastery in Poitiers, France and later spoke out in favor of the beatification of Pope Pius IX, calling the pope "my father" once again. Throughout his young life however, Mortara could be visited by his parents freely anytime they wanted to see their child.

Governing the Church


The end of the Papal States was an important but not the only important event in the long pontificate of Pius IX. His leadership of the Church contributed to an ever increasing centralization with Rome and the papacy as the centre of the Catholic Church. While his political views and policies were hotly debated, his personal life style was above any criticism, he was considered to be a model of simplicity and poverty in his every day affairs. More than his predecessors, Pius IX uses the papal pulpit to address himself to the bishops of the world. In 1862, some 300 bishops followed his invitation for the canonization of 26 martyrs of Japan. The papacy as a spiritual force was clearly stronger in 1878, when Pius IX died. His reforms and the first Vatican Council, which he convened were considered milestones not only in his pontificate but also for Church history. Church rights The Church policies of Pius IX were dominated with a defence of the rights of the Church and the free exercise of religion in countries like Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and, an attack against what he perceived to be anti-Catholic philosophies and actual infringements in countries like Italy, Germany and France. To be added


He celebrated several jubilees such as the 300th anniversary of the Council of Trent, and his own Golden Jubilee in 1868. A big event was the 1800th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul on June 29, 1867, which he celebrated with 512 bishops, 20 000 priests and 140 000 lay persons in Rome already a prisoner in the Vatican, a large gathering was organized in 1871, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his papacy. The Italian government, intervening in Church affairs, had outlawed in 1870 a number of popular pilgrimages. The faithful of Bologna organized a nation wide spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Father and the tombs of the apostles in Rome, which became a smashing success in 1873. For 1875, Pius IX declared a Holy Year which was celebrated throughout the Catholic world. At the 50th anniversary of his Episcopal consecration, people from all parts of the world came to see the old pontiff from April 30, 1877 to June 15, 1877. The Pope was a bit shy on himself, but he valued initiative within the Church and created several new titles, rewards and orders to elevate those, who in his view deserved merit for their Church engagement.


Pius IX created 122 new Cardinals – the limit of the College of Cardinals was seventy - of which 64 were alive at his death. Noteworthy elevations 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.


Pius was aware and convinced about his role as the highest teaching authority in the Church. He promoted the foundations of Catholic Universities in Belgium and France and supported Catholic associations with the intellectual aim to explain the faith to non-believers and 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 of the Church.


Pope Pius IX was deeply religious and shared a strong devotion to Mary with many of his contemporaries, who made major contributions to Roman Catholic Mariology. Marian doctrines featured prominently in 19th century theology, especially the issue of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. During his pontificate petitions increased requesting the dogmatization of the Immaculate Conception. In 1848 Pius appointed a theological commission to analyze the possibility for a Marian dogma.

In the same year, the Pope had to flee Rome, where a revolutionary movement took over the Papal States and city government. From his exile in Gaeta he issued the encyclical Ubi Primum, seeking the opinions of the bishops on the immaculate conception, a novel approach of collegiality in the history of the papacy. This approach was quoted by Pope Pius XII, when in Deiparae Virginis Mariae, he inquired from the bishops about a possible dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Over 90% of the bishops requested the dogmatization. Pius IX moved cautiously, appointing on May 10, 1852 a commission of twenty theologians to prepare a possible text of the dogma. Upon their completion, he asked a commission of cardinals on December 2, 1852 to finalize the text. It was not until 1854 that Pius IX, with the support of the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic Bishops, proclaimed the Immaculate Conception. Eight years earlier, in 1846, the Pope had granted the unanimous wish of the bishops from the United States, and declared the Immaculata the patron of the USA. During First Vatican Council, some 108 council fathers requested to add the words "Immaculate Virgin" to the Hail Mary. Some fathers requested, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception to be included in the Creed of the Church, which was opposed by Pius IX.

During the First Vatican Council, nine mariological petitions favoured a possible assumption dogma, which however was strongly opposed by some council fathers, especially from Germany. On May 8, the fathers rejected a dogmatization at that time, a rejection shared by Pius IX. The concept of Co-Redemptrix was also discussed but left open. In its support, Council fathers highlighted the divine motherhood of Mary and called her the mother of all graces.

Pius IX believed in the Assumption of Mary, and recognized the close relation between the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her being taken up into Heaven. He resisted attempts however, to issue a second Mariandogma within two decades. He was also firmly convinced that Mary is the Mediatrix of salvation and stated that in clear terms in his encyclical Ubi Primum. Pius IX taught that Christians have everything through the Virgin Mary. He attributed to Mary his narrow espcape from Rome to Gaeta in 1848

Thirty-eight Encyclicals

In a record 38 encyclicals he took position on Church issues. They include: Qui Pluribus (1846) dealt with faith and religion; Praedecessores Nostros (1847) with aid for Ireland; Ubi Primum 1848 with The Immaculate Conception; Nostis Et Nobiscum 1849 with the Church in the Papal States; Neminem Vestrum 1854 with the bloody the Persecution of Armenian; Cum Nuper 1858 with the care for Clerics; Amantissimus 1862 with the Care of the Churches; Meridionali Americae 1865 with the Seminary for the Native Clergy; Omnem Sollicitudinem 1874 |about the Greek-Ruthenian Rite; Quod Nunquam 1875 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 in its details, but to show problem areas and errors in the Church and in various countries.

His December 1864 encyclical Quanta cura contained the Syllabus of Errors, an appendix that listed and condemned as heresy 80 propositions, many on political topics, and firmly established his pontificate in opposition to secularism, rationalism, and modernism in all its forms. The document affirmed that the Church is a true and perfect society entirely free, is she endowed with proper and perpetual rights of her own, conferred upon her by her Divine Founder; The ecclesiastical power can exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government. The Church has the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion. After centuries of being dominated by States and secular powers, the Pope thus defended the rights of the Church to free expression and opinion, even if particular views violated the perception and interests of secular forces, which in Italy at the time tried to dominate many Church activities, Bishop appointments and even the education of the clergy in seminaries.

The Syllabus nevertheless was controversial at the time. The Pope whose influence and State was seen as declining even ending before the Syllabus, was at once the center of attention as the powerful enemy of progress, a man of boundless power and dangerous influence Anti-Catholic forces viewed the papal document as an attack on progress, while Catholics were happy, that their rights were defined, and that the rights of monarchs were viewed in a restrictive way. European Catholics welcomed the idea, that national churches are not subjected to State authority, .as it was so long practiced in France, Spain,Portugal under various versions of Gallicanism. American Catholics, who saw agreement of the papal views on the role of the State in Church affairs with those of the founding fathers, rejoiced over the definition of temporal rights in the areas of education, marriage and family. .

First Vatican Council

Pius IX was the first pope to popularize encyclicals on a large scale to foster his views. He decisively acted on the century-old struggle between Dominicans and Franciscans regarding the Immaculate Conception of Mary, deciding in favour of the latter ones. However this decision, which he formulated as an infallible dogma raised he question, if a Pope can in fact made such decisions without the bishops, thus forshadowing one topic of the Vatican Council, which he later convened for 1869. The Pope did consult the bishops beforehand with his encyclical Ubi Primum (see below), but insisted of having this issue clarified nevertheless. The Council was to deal with Papal Infallibility not on its own but as an integral part of its consideration of the definition of the Catholic Church and the role of the bishops in it. As it turned out, this was not possible because of the imminent attack by Italy against the Papal States, which forced a premature suspension of the First Vatican Council. Thus the major achievenemtns of Pius IX are his mariology and Vatican One.

The Vatican Council did prepare several decrees, which, with small changes, were all signed by Pius IX. They refer to the Catholic faith , God the creator of all things, divine revelation, the relation between faith and human reasoning, the primacy of the papacy and the infallibility of the papacy. It was noted that the theological style of Pius was often negative, stating obvious errors rather than stating what is right. Schmidlin 318 Pius was noted for overstating his case at times, which was explained in part due to his epileptic condition. This created problems inside and outside the Church but also resulted in a clearing of the air and in much attention to his utterings, which otherwise may not have materialized.

Renewal and reforms

Contrary to stiff ultra-conservative sterility, which some attempted to associate with Pius IX, an extraordinary renewal of Catholic vigour and religious life took place during his pontificate: The entire episcopate was reappointed, and religious orders and congregations experienced a growth and vitality, which was not anticipated by anyone at the beginning of his papacy in 1846. Existing orders had numerous applications and expanded, sending many of their “excess” vocation to missionary activities in Africa and Asia. Pius IX approved 74 new ones for women alone. In France, where the Church was devastated after the French Revolution, there were 160.000 Religious when Pius IX died in 1878, in addition to the regular priests, working in the parishes. Pius created over 200 news bishop seats, oversaw an unprecedented growth of the Church in the USA and created new hierarchies in several countries.

Encouraged by Rome, Catholic lay people began to participate again in pilgrimages, spiritual retreats, baptisms and confessions and Catholic associations of all kinds. The great number of vocations led Pius to issue several admonitions to Bishops, to weed out candidates with moral weaknesses . He founded several seminaries in Rome, to ensure that only the best are admitted to the priestly service. Lazy priests or priests who did not perform were punished or dismissed from their service. On the other hand, he also reformed the system of Church discipline, getting rid of some indulgences, causes for excommunication, suspensions of clergy and other disciplinary measures. He did not, however, undertake an overall reform of Canon Law.

‎ Catholic monasteries are officially not under the jurisdiction of the papacy, yet Pius IX on June 21, 1847, addressed them and asked for reforms. He wrote, that monasteries form an indispensable bridge between the secular and religious world and fulfill therefore an important function for the Church as a whole. He mandated a reform of monastic discipline and outlawed century old practices, by which men and women were given eternal vows and forced to stay in the convent or monastery without prior probation periods. He mandated a waiting period of three years for entry into a monastery, and declared all monastic vows without the threee years as invalid. Specifics included reform of the monastic habits, music and the theological preparation in the monasteries. most but not all of them accepted the reforms of the Pope. Pius did not hesitate to impose reform-minded superiors in several congregations. A special relation existed between him and the Jesuit order, which had educated him as a young boy. Jesuits were said to be influential during his pontificate, which created misgivings and animosity in the secular media at the time.

Last years and death

Pius IX lived long enough to witness the death of his opponent, King 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. He died one month later on February 7, 1878 at 5.40 PM, while praying the rosary with his staff.

Since 1868, the Pope was plagued first by facial erysipelas and then by open sores on his legs. He insisted of celebrating his daily mass nevertheless and made fun of himself because of his slow movements. The extraordinary heat of Summer 1877 worsened his open sores on his legs problems to the effect that he had to be carried. He underwent several painful medical procedures, which he took with great stoicism. He spent most of his last few weeks in his library, where he received cardinals and held audiences. On December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which he had dogmatized in 1854, his situation improved markedly to the point that he could walk again. By February he could say mass again on his own in standing position, enjoying the popular celebration of the 75th anniversary of his first communion throughout Rome. He joked, that Pope Pius IX borrowed the legs from Signore Mastai. A bronchitis, a fall to the floor, and rising temperature worsened his situation after February 4, 1878. He continued joking about himself, when the Cardinal Vicar of Rome ordered bell-ringing and non-stop prayers for his recuperation. Why do you want to stop me from going to heaven?, he asked with a smile. But he told his doctor, that his time had come. Pope Pius IX died age eighty-six concluding the longest pontificate in papal history on 7 February 1878 . His last words were "Guard the church I loved so well and sacredly" as recorded by the Cardinals kneeling beside his bedside. His body was originally buried in St. Peter's grotto, but was moved in a night procession on 13 July 1881 to the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura. The event was disrupted when a mob of Italian nationalists tried to seize the body and throw it into the Tiber River. When his tomb was opened in 2000 to verify his remains in the Rite of Recognition, an important step in the process of beatification, his body as fifty years before under Pius XII was found to be perfectly preserved.


The process for his beatification, which in the early parts was strongly opposed by the Italian government, was begun on February 11, 1907, and recommenced three times. The Italian government had since 1878 strongly opposed any beatification of Pius IX in the past. Pascalina Lehnert reports that Pope Pius XII re-started the beatification process in the Fifties. For this occasion, the body of Pius IX was exhumed and found to be in perfect condition. Pius IX was dressed with the papal clothing of his successor. This time, without any Italian opposition, Pope John Paul II declared him venerable on July 6, 1985, and beatified him on September 3, 2000. (His Feast Day is February 7.) This latter ceremony also included the beatification of Pope John XXIII (1958–63).

The beatification of both popes was a subject of controversy in light of some of their policies. On the other hand, there is a wealth of information on his personal piety, holiness and generosity. Saints are not canonized for their many mistakes, but for their personal virtues.


Pius IX had with thirty-two years the longest reign in the history of the post-apostolic papacy, celebrating his silver jubilee in 1871. As he lost temporal sovereignty, the Roman Catholic Church rallied around him, the papacy became more centralized, to which his impecccable personal life-style of simplicity and poverty is considered to have contributed. From this point on, the papacy became and continues to become more and more a spiritual, and less a temporal, authority. Pius IX's pontificate marks the beginning of the modern papacy.

After starting out as a liberal, Pius IX turned conservative after being thrown out of Rome. Thereafter, he was considered politically conservative, but a restless and radical reformer and innovator of Church life and structures. Church life, religious vocations, new foundations and religious enthousiasm all florished at the end of his pontificate. Politically, his pontificate ended with the isolation of the papacy from most major powers of the world: "The prisoner of the Vatican" had poor relations with Russia , Germany, and the United States of America, poor relations with France and open hostility with Italy. Yet he was most popular with the faithful in all these countries, in many of which Pope Pius associations were formed in his support. He made lasting Church history with his 1854 infallible decision of the Immaculate Conception, which was the basis for the later dogma on the Assumption. His second lasting contribution is the invocation of the ecumenical council Vatican One, which promulgated the definition of Papal infallibility. The Prophecy of the Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, is a list of 112 short phrases in Latin. They purport to describe each of the Roman Catholic popes. It describes Pius IX as Crux de Cruce, Cross of the cross.

Early Photos of Pope Pius IX

The art of Photography developed popularly only in the later years of the Pontificate of Pius IX. Some contemporaries of Pius IX like Cardinal Giuseppe Pecci considered photography to be inferior to painting and refused to be photographed. Pius was open to the new form of art. There are mainly photos of his late years available. He is, however, the first pope, of whom photos were made.


  • In two nights after his 1846 pardon freeing all political prisoners, thousands of Romans with torches roamed to the Quirinal Palace, where Pius XI resided, celebrating the pope with Eviva’s, speeches and music through both nights. The Pope went several times to the balcony to give his blessing. On the third day, when his horse-drawn carriage left the Palace to move to the Vatican, Romans disconnected the horses and pulled the papal carriage on their own
  • On November 16, 1848, an excited mob of revolutionaries moved to the Quirinal and the Parliament, to present to the Pope their demands, especially war against Austria. The Pope reportedly replied, his dignity as Head of state and of the Church does not permit him to fulfil conditions of rebels. Following this the Quirinal was covered by canon fire, which caused several deaths. After that, in order to save lives, the Pope agreed to a list of proposed ministers, although stating that he himself would abstain from any cooperation with them.
  • After the French troops, which protected the Papal States left Rome, an Italian army with 60 000 men approached the Eternal City, which was defended by only 10 000 papal soldiers. The Pope instructed his soldiers to give only token resistance and to enter into an armistice after the first defeat because the Deputy of Christ does not shed blood. When the old Porta Pia was bombarded, opening a huge hole for the invaders, the Pope asked the white flag to be shown. It was his last act as King of the Papal States. The very last papal shot at the Porta Pia was fired by an Jesuit Austrian alumnus of the Stella Matutina (Jesuit School)
  • Pius IX was lampooned by reference to the Italian version of his name (Pio Nono), as Pio No No.
  • His occasional mood changes and emotional outbursts have been interpreted as symptoms of his epilepsy.
  • One enduring popular touch lies in Pius IX's artistic legacy as author of the Italian-language lyrics of Italy's best known indigenous Christmas carol, Tu scendi dalle stelle ("From starry skies descended"), originally a Neapolitan language song written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
  • During his stay at the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, on September 8 1849, Pope Pius IX had the experience of a train trip from Portici to Pagani, so he became enthusiastic about this modern invention. When he went back to his seat in Rome, he promoted the growth of a railroad network, starting in 1856 with the Rome and Frascati Rail Road. By 1870 the total length of railway lines built in the Papal States was 317 km. He also introduced gas lighting and the telegraph to the Papal States.
  • To commemorate his term as pope, there is a street in Montreal called Pie-IX (Pie-Neuf), French for Pius IX. There is also a stop on the Montreal Metro system called Pie-IX serving the street, located at the foot of the Olympic stadium. Also, there are streets in Santiago, Chile and Macon, Georgia (U.S. state) called Pío Nono, Spanish for Pius IX and a secondary school with the same name (Pio IX) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Pope Pius IX died aged 86 on February 7, 1878 after a pontificate of thirty-two years. It was his last wish, to be buried not in the Vatican but in the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, his casket to be ornated with a simple cross which was not to cost more than 400 Scudi. At the request of Italian authorities, the funeral took place three years later in the middle of the night. On July 12-13 1881. It was accompanied by the clergy and Roman society. The houses along the streets were illuminated with torches, and people threw flowers from the window on the horse-drawn carriage. Anti-Catholic gangs screaming Long live Italy, Death to the Pope Death to the Priests, tried to take over and throw the body of the deceased pope into the Tiber river. The simple grave of Pius IX was changed by his successor after his beatification.


  • Acta et decreta Pii IX, Pontificis Maximi, VolI-VII, Romae 1854 ff
  • Acta et decreta Leonis XIII, P.M. Vol I-XXII, Romae, 1881, ff
  • Actae Sanctae Sedis, (ASS), Romae, Vaticano 1865
  • Barwig, Regis N. (1978). More Than a Prophet: Day By Day With Pius IX. Altadena: Benziger Sisters.
  • L. Boudou, Le S. Siege et la Russie, Paris, 1890
  • De Cesare, Raffaele (1909). The Last Days of Papal Rome. London: Archibald Constable & Co.
  • Duffy, Eamon, Saints and Sinners, a History of the Popes Yale University Press, 1997
  • Franzen, August, Papstgeschichte, Herder, Freiburg, 1988 (cit.Franzen)
  • Franzen, August, Kleine Kirchengeschichte Herder, Freiburg, 1991 (cit.Franzen,Kirchengeschichte)
  • Hasler, August Bernhard (1981). How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion. Doubleday.
  • Hasler, August Bernhard (1979). Wie der Papst unfelhlbar wurde: Macht und Ohnmacht eines Dogmas. R. Piper & Co. Verlag.
  • Kertzer, David I. (2004). Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian State. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-22442-4.
  • Martina, S.J. Pio IX (1846-1850) Roma: Editrice Pontificia Universita Gregoriana,Vol I-III, 1974-1991
  • Pougeois, Histoire de Pie IX, son pontificat et son siecle, Vol I-VI, Paris, 1877
  • Schmidlin, Josef, Papstgeschichte, Vol I-IV, Köstel-Pusztet München, 1922-1939
  • John Gilmary Shea, The Life of Pope Pius IX, New York, 1877
  • Sylvain, Histoire de Pie IX le Grand et de son pontificat, Vol I,II, Paris, 1878


External links


Search another word or see conspirativeon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature