Pius IX

Pius IX

the last of the Roman pontiffs who held both temporal and spiritual rule. His original name was Giovanni Maria ialstai Ferretti. He was of noble parentage, though there are writers claiming him to be of Jewish descent. He was born at Sinigaglia, May 13, 1792. As a youth he was distinguished for a mild disposition and for his works of charity. While still a child he was saved from drowning by a poor contadino, who lived to see him seated on what the historian Macaulay calls "the most ancient and venerable throne of Europe." At the age of eighteen he went to Rome for the purpose of entering the body-guard of the reigning pontiff, Pius VII. An epileptic attack, however, prevented the attainment of his wishes, and he entered a religious seminary, where his gentleness and devotion proved the foundation of his future distinction. While at Rome he lived under the protection of an uncle, an officer of the ecclesiastical establishment of the Vatican. In the troubled period which marked the closing days of Napoleon's reign, uncle and nephew removed to their estates at Sinigaglia. On a visit which pope Pius VII paid this place, Mastai was presented to his holiness, and when the pontiff was again able to return to Rome, after his long captivity in France, the young ecclesiastic of Sinigaglia was called to the holy city. In the meantime his health had improved, and he was able to prosecute his studies uninterruptedly. By invitation of cardinal Odescalchi, he took part in a mission to his native province, and when he returned was made deacon in 1818. He obtained a personal audience of the pontiff, and sought a dispensation which would allow him to be ordained without delay to the priesthood. The legend states that his holiness, laying his hands on the young aspirant, granted him the favor asked, together with the apostolic blessing, and thus forever cured him of his epilepsy. Secular writers less anxious to paint the miraculous manifestations in Pio Nono's youthful days declare that he was a libertine, and that, stretched upon a bed of sickness, he repented of his sins, and, by a life of abstinence and purity, gradually recovered.

In 1819 Mastai received priest's orders, and first exercised the sacerdotal functions in the hospital of San Giovanni at Rome-an institution founded for the education of poor orphans. He was assiduously devoted to his ministerial duties, and became noted for his charitable works also. In 1823 a wider field opened to him. A canon of the cathedral of Santiago, in Chili, had come to Rome to request of the pope the appointment of an apostolic delegate to that country, and when monsignor Muzi had been given this position, Mastai was selected to accompany him as auditor. Two years he spent in South America, and on his way home he also visited the North, and he is said to have been the only pope that ever saw America. Report will have it that he even visited a body of Freemasons in Philadelphia (see Princeton Rev. [March, 1878], p. 510). Nor need this surprise. "It is a fact," says Trollope, "which may be relied on, that-of course in the days before he became a priest, or had thought of ever becoming one Pius IX had been a member of a lodge-or a vendetta, as the term was-of Carbonari." This was a secret society, originally of charcoal-burners (as the name signifies), who were opposed to the tyranny of the times. In the summer of 1825 Mastai was taken into the household of pope Leo XII as domestic prelate. He became a favorite with the pontiff, and in December was made superintendent of the hospital of St. Michael, founded two centuries ago by Innocent X, and comprising at this time not only a hospital for the sick, but a retreat for the aged, a refuge for boys, a house for magdalens, a home for virtuous girls, and a school of arts and industries. When he assumed the presidency of this vast and complicated institution it was on the decline. He reorganized every department of the hospital, repaired its dilapidated revenues, extended the range of its charities, and in less than two years brought order out of the confusion-by the sacrifice, however, of his own patrimony. He also preached much and obtained great distinction as a pulpit orator.

In 1829 Spoleto needed an archbishop. The political agitation was great throughout Italy. The approach of the disturbances which crowded the year 1830 was manifest in a thousand ways. The ecclesiastics, in order to be all-powerful and sufficient for the struggle, needed more than ordinary experience. A policy of anxious, irritated, and, at the same time, irritating repression had proved a failure. Mastai Ferretti was young enough to avoid falling into this error of his seniors, and as he had gained much political sagacity in his semipolitico-religious mission across the sea, he was selected for the vacant archiepiscopal chair. He quickly perceived that he must abandon the old receipts of the prison and the executioner, and by a wise rule maintained perfect order in the midst of general disturbance. While all Italy was in arms, the little archbishopric of Spoleto remained peaceful. When suddenly 5000 insurgents came there to seek refuge from the pursuing Austrians, he dealt so kindly and judiciously with them that he induced them to lay down their arms and submit to authority; and when the civil authority of the city submitted to him the lists of these insurgents, he tossed them into the fire, instead of forwarding them to Rome. Gregory XVI and his court were displeased and indignant at such procedure. Mastai was summoned to Rome to give an account of his conduct; but he succeeded without much difficulty in persuading Gregory that if their enemies could be put down without punishments, which left a fresh store of hatreds behind, it was all the better. Mastai's enemies said that his conduct towards the persecuted liberal party was not altogether straightforward and consistent, and that he even in those early days showed a certain tendency to run with the hare at the same time that he was hunting with the hounds. The archbishop certainly succeeded finally in obtaining the approbation of his holiness for on Dec. 17, 1832, he was translated to the see of Imola-a very important promotion, because it is understood that this bishopric is a stepping-stone to the cardinalate. Mastai had not only proved his political sagacity, but his religious fervor and purity of life gave a most dignified position to the churchmen of the diocese of Spoleto, as well as later to that of Imola. Particularly was he noted for his charity and readiness to aid all good works, both public and private. The disturbed times required such ecclesiastics. It gave authority to the sees and influence to the pontificate. How well the pope appreciated Mastai is made apparent in his selection, a short time after, as apostolic nuncio to Naples. He so ably discharged his mission that he was rewarded with the cardinalate by secret conclave in 1839, though he did not receive the purple robe until the year after. He was yet comparatively a young man. There were many far his seniors in the college of cardinals. Certainly no one dreamed that the bestowal of the red hat upon Mastai Ferretti was likely to bring him the tiara soon.

In 1846 Gregory XVI died. When the news from Rome came to the archbishop-cardinal of Imola, he delayed to celebrate first the obsequies of the dead pope. Apparently he was in no haste to get to Rome; yet those who were close observers and less friendly say that he had an eye to the papal throne from the moment of his elevation to the cardinalate, and that he prudently forbore ever after to identify himself with the court of Gregory. There were two parties in the conclave. Each of these sought in the new pontiff the representative of their ideas. The one party, confined to the Jesuits and headed by Lambruschimni himself an aspirant for the vacant chair-determined to maintain the papacy of mediaeval times; the other party, moderately liberal, made up of better men than the Jesuits, yet also devoted to the fabric of mediaeval times, but with some show of concession to modern ideas, were disposed to compromise on a moderate man, and selected the virtuous Bianchi, the Dominican who never doffed the dress of his order for the purple robe, though he accepted its honors and eschewed the Austrian policy of the late pontificate. Outside of the conclave, however, there was a small but enthusiastic faction, called "Young Italy." resolved to have a liberal pope, and they fastened upon the young cardinal who had espoused the Italian cause and had been a liberal in his past history. No one outside of the conclave imagined, when, on the 14th of June, it convened, that the party at whose simple mention the "holy" men were accustomed to cross themselves would be successful. The only hope was in the popular enthusiasm, which ran so high that there was hope the vox populi might possibly be turned into the vox Dei. On the very first vote Lambruschini received fifteen votes and Mastai thirteen. On the afternoon of the 16th Mastai received on the fourth ballot thirty-six votes- making, of the fifty-two present, more than the necessary two thirds-when the assembly rose as one man to confirm the choice by unanimous acclamation. Young Italy had conquered against all the Jesuit machinations. But it was well that it was done so soon; for as Mastai -now Pius IX was bestowing his benediction (Urbi et orbi) from the balcony of St. Peter's, an Austrian cardinal drove into the Piazza with smoking post- horses and a "veto" from Vienna.

Various incidents in the reign of Pio Nono's predecessor had given rise to the wildest agitation in diplomatic circles. In 1845 there occurred the rising in the Romagna, which, when suppressed, revived in a far more effective shape in the famous pamphlet, I Casi delle Romagne, which circulated as the testament of a new political gospel throughout the peninsula. Then there came the memorable visit of the czar Nicholas to Rome, '-and those interviews in which the pope had dared to protest to the dreaded autocrat against the treatment to which he subjected the Romish Church in Russia. The interest excited in the political world was very great, for, on the one hand, the religious agitation in Poland had assumed serious proportions, while, on the other, speculation was stimulated by the mystery surrounding this interview, at which only two witnesses had been present (cardinal Acton and Mr. Boutevieff, the Russian minister at Rome). Finally, there came as French ambassador M. Rossi, a born subject of the pope-a fugitive professor from Bologna, and a notoriously compromised liberal-avowedly to obtain from the holy see its concurrence with the principles of free education, then advocated in France, and its compliance with the desire of the French government for the reduction within moderate limits of the establishments that had been opened in France, more or less clandestinely, by the Jesuits. All these circumstances had brought about a degree of agitation which was acknowledged by all who had not some special interest in speaking against the truth. Gregory XVI had lived in hourly dread of revolutionary upheaval, and in constant fear of absolute neglect by the European states. He had always kept in his drawer a document empowering the cardinals, on his demise, to proceed to immediate election, if they saw danger to the free action of the conclave. Such times needed a popular priest in the pontificate. But Mastai disappointed both his friends and his enemies-the former so sorely that they were weakened beyond the possibility of recovery; the latter, by his forming an alliance with them, and by the execution of schemes which they had never dreamed could be executed, even if Lambruschini himself had been in the papal chair. Pio Nono proved an impulsive, good-natured man, but ignorant and superstitious, vain and impetuous, weak and obstinate, without a mind of his own or settled policy. His reforms were, in reality, of little value. The best of them those devoid of any political significance — projects to regulate the finances, to reform the administration of justice, to introduce railways to ameliorate the condition of the Campagna — brought about merely a temporary improvement. The political measures were equally short-lived in their results, and, besides, were a burlesque on liberalism. Thus in March, 1847, an edict of the press was published with the intention of removing some of the restrictions under which it had labored till then; but strong hints were given as to the subjects which the government would allow to be discussed, and a censorship remained established in full force. The same year witnessed the institution of the Consulta under the presidency of Gizzi. This seemed like concession to popular demands, but the whole thing was a farce; the members were chosen by the pope, and the functions of the council of the most limited nature. Its duty was to give an opinion when called upon, leaving it to the pope to act upon the proffered advice or to do otherwise. In 1848 appeared the famous statuto creating a high council and a chamber of deputies, as the triumph of constitutionalism. But the chambers were forbidden to propose any law on ecclesiastical or mixed affairs, and every measure had to be submitted to the pope in a secret consistory, with the absolute right of veto. When the national crusade was inaugurated in 1847, under the leadership of prince Charles Albert, of the house of Savoy-the grandfather of the present king of Italy-the pope went with the multitude. The Ultramontanes, of course, broke out against this manifest liberalism of the pontiff, but it only needed a little strategy on their part, and he was at their bidding. When his trusted adviser, count Rossi, was assassinated at the door of the Council of State, Pius IX as rapidly retraced his steps as he had advanced, and now unreservedly gave himself over to those very Jesuits who had plotted the death of his minister, that the liberals might be charged with desperate motives. Accordingly, the pope, on the 29th of April, 1848-his ministry, who had counseled that the abandonment of the people "would most seriously compromise the temporal "dominion of the holy see," having left him-issued, in the form of an allocution addressed to the cardinals, that celebrated paper which put an end at once and forever to the brief season of popularity and affection of his subjects in which he had basked. The first words of it declare the intentions of the Holy See "not to deviate from the institutions of our predecessors." Then it goes on to state that evil-minded men had made it believed that the pope had encouraged the Italians in their revolutionary aspirations, and had endeavored to make his conduct in this respect a means of stirring up schism in Germany. The paper finally warns all the Italians against any such designs or aspirations, enjoining them to remain docile subjects to their princes. This "allocution" fell like a bombshell in the midst of the liberal party. The dismay, the disappointment, the rage, were indescribable. Many had been led-some of the princes of Italy among the number-to compromise themselves in a way they would not have done had they not supposed that the pontiff was at the head of the liberal movement. This terrible announcement was made, too, when already the papal troops had passed the frontier of the States of the Church and joined the forces marching against the Austrians; so that these betrayed men were left to be treated by the Austrian soldiery as mere rebels and brigands. The king of Sardinia and the grand duke of Tuscany were equally placed in a most painful predicament by this sudden tergiversation of Pius IX. They acted, as is well known, differently in the difficulty. The king did not turn back from the plough to which he had put his hand. The weak grand duke made haste to follow the lead of the pontiff, and cast in his lot with him and with the Austrians. Such vacillation could not be other than destructive. When the hurricanes which swept over the political fabric of Europe reached the Italian shores, Rome's prince was the first to feel its severest touch. In France the citizen king was forced to exile; in Rome the citizen-pope suffered a like fate, and with this hegira from the Quirinal to Gaeta terminates Pio Nono's comedy of liberalism. The story of Pio Nono's extraordinary hegira we cannot detail. Suffice it to say that Pio Nono's exit from Rome was made with the aid of the Bavarian minister, and at Gaeta he was received with great honor by the king of Naples, who persuaded the pope to abandon his original intention of going to the Balearic Islands. He now enjoyed the sympathy of the reactionists all over the world who had looked so coldly upon his early efforts at reform, but gained, of course, the execrations of the liberals, whose cause he had abandoned. Rome, left without a ruler bloomed into a republic. The pope protested against all its acts, and summoned the Catholic world to put it down. It was France which, having disgraced herself by the election of a Bonaparte as president, was condemned to finish her story of crime and humiliation by throttling the Roman republic and restoring the temporal authority of the papacy. French troops landed at Civita Vecchia on the 25th of April 1849, and besieged the capital, while the Austrians entered Italy from the north and the Spaniards from the south. The capital surrendered on the 1st of July; and pending the return of the pope-which did not take place until next year-the government was carried on by a papal commission, a council of state, a council of finances, and provincial councils. The pope returned in April 1850, surrounded by the bayonets of a French army, "to a capital torn and ravaged by bombardment, and drenched in the blood of his own subjects, slain for the crime of taking up and carrying on the government which he had abdicated." His first act was the perfidy of destroying the constitution of chartered rights which he had guaranteed to his subjects. His second act was the granting of a mock amnesty, the exceptions to which were so framed as to put well-nigh the whole population under ban. The glutted prisons, which it had been his delight to empty at his first accession, filled up again as before. The Inquisition recommenced its sacred labors. Five hundred citizens were shot or decapitated and thirty thousand proscribed. Tribunals were established which condemned without trial, and without even open accusation. Speech was gagged, the press was muzzled, the Bible was prohibited. The stirring of resistance provoked by excess of tyranny, was seized as the pretext of wanton barbarity; and the kindhearted philanthropist of 1846 became an avenger at Perugia in 1859 a sad and black story, on which it is rather the province of the secular historian to dwell. In 1868, the Austrians broke the concordat and declared their spiritual emancipation. The year after, queen Isabella was driven out of Spain, and the government of the people refused to be bound by any previous treaties with the papacy. In 1870, finally, the war with Prussia destroyed the empire in France, and with the fall of Napoleon not only the French refused to be bound to Rome, but the gates of the Eternal City opened to all Italy. Previous to the entry of the Italian troops, Victor Emmanuel wrote to Pio Nono a most dutiful and submissive letter, offering terms of establishment in Rome which would guarantee his entire spiritual freedom and authority, to which his holiness made characteristic reply-the most extraordinary defiance ever uttered in such extremity. Though the king might after this have taken matters in his own hand, he yet accepted an obedient relation to the Church, and caused Parliament to guarantee the liberty of the Church and the independence of the sovereign pontiff on May 13, 1871. Notwithstanding all efforts of Victor Emmanuel for peace, the pope sternly persisted in his firm protest against the inevitable change of things. He steadily refused to receive the Sardinian princes, or to enter into any arrangement with them. He yielded merely to force, and evidently enjoyed his martyrdom much more than Emmanuel did his victory. For the first year after his dethronement, the pope talked of various changes of residence of Malta, of Avignon, and even of St. Louis. But this was probably never serious. His great age prevented any such adventure, if there were no other reasons against it. He lived retired in the Vatican, and called himself a prisoner. On the 3rd of June 1877, the Romish Church celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his episcopate, and on Feb. 7, 1878, he died, after a protracted dropsical illness.

Pio Nono's name will always be prominent among Roman pontiffs. His long reign proved a contradiction of the traditional words uttered at his coronation—Non videbis annos Petri. Besides, his interest in archaeological pursuits, and the care he took in aiding in the preservation of the various monuments of Rome and in the embellishing of her churches, will hand his name down to remote generations. On the Forum, on the Coliseum, on fountains and in basilicas, the name of Pius IX is carved on large marble slabs, recording the part he has taken in preserving old structures from decay or in building new ones. In the tribune of the grand basilica of Sao Paolo-fuori-le-mura there is a memorial of one of the proudest moments of Pio Nono's life. An expensive and elegant memorial is that placed in 1871 over the well-known bronze statue of St. Peter. Those who desire to study its details are referred to the pages of the Civilta Cattolica.

In 1847 he began the reform of the great religious bodies.; On June 17 he appointed a commission to inquire into the laxity of discipline in religious communities, and in the issue he so modified the constitutions of several as to make the period of probation more protracted, and to raise among all the standard of discipline and intellectual training. The missions of the Church were also strengthened, being carried forward in partibus infidelinum, and great hierarchies, in lands formerly heathen or Protestant, were added to the vast clergy that owned "the Latin obedience." Thus he provided by brief of 1850 for the ecclesiastical government of England, dividing that country into one metropolitan and twelve episcopal sees; and this was followed by a pastoral letter of cardinal Wiseman, on his appointment as archbishop of Westminster, exulting in the supposed triumph of his Church in the land which had been the home of the Reformation for three centuries. Then he created in this country a vast Roman Catholic hierarchy by elevating to the cardinalate the archbishop of New York in 1875, and prepared the way for the re-establishment of the hierarchy in Scotland, which was effected in 1878. Finally, in 1854, without advice of a council, he ventured the utterance of a new dogma -the immaculate conception (q.v.) of the Virgin Mary -and the audacious promulgation, in 1864, of the bull Quanta Cura, which, with its accompanying "Syllabus" of damnable errors, was simply an attack on free governments and civilization itself, and rivalled the spirit and times of Hildebrand, the ecclesiastical absolutism of the 11th century. The consecration of these acts in the Vatican Council of 1870 by the decree of Infallibility (q.v.) was the logical completion of the Romish system and of the pontificate of Pius IX. The disturbances which have grown out of these steps are detailed in SEE OLD CATHOLICISM, etc. One of the foulest blots on the pages of history regarding his reign is the forcible conversion of the Jew boy Mortara, and of a piece with this is the abject condition of the Hebrews at Rome, where the walls of the Ghetto were only removed with the establishment of the Italian power. The private life of the pope was marked by great simplicity of habits.

See Balleydier, Histoire de la Revol. de Rome (Lyons, 1851, 2 vols. 8vo); Maguire, Rome, its Ruler and is Institutions (Lond. 1859); Saint-Alvin, Pie IX (Paris, 1860): Pius IX: the Story of his Life (Lond. 1875, 2 vols. 8vo); Trollope, Pope Pius IX (ibid. 1877, 2 vols. 8vo); Legge, Growth of the Temporal Power of the Papacy (ibid. 1870); also, Life of Pius IX (ibid. 1875, 8vo); Hitchmatan, Biog. of Pius IX (ibid. 1878, 12mo); New York Tribune, Feb. 8, 1878; Christian Union, vol. 17, No. 7; Christian Advocate, Feb. 1878; Thompson, The Papacy and the Civil Power (N. Y. 1877, 12mo); Princeton Review, March, 1878.

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