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Pope Pius IX: The Pope of the Risorgimento

Pope Pius IX was one of the most important Italian popes ever. His election took place during the Italian Risorgimento and his papacy was as brilliant as controversial … How come? Because of his extreme closed mind and even the close relationship with the world of politics, which he wanted to be part of but from which he wanted to exclude the people, the majority.

His thought was radical and, in a sense, dictatorial, but noble. In fact, he was beatified in honor of the Jubilee of 2000 by Pope John Paul II. His remains are still preserved at the basilica of San Lorenzo al Verano, Rome, and they welcome hundreds of curious visitors from all over the world daily. It is thanks to Pope Pius IX that it is possible to celebrate the Immaculate Conception every year, on December 8, and it is thanks to him if the same has been made a national holiday.

One of the greatest Italian Popes

Pope Pius IX was one of the greatest Italian popes. He was elected in the Risorgimento era and was, for many years, an active guide of the Pontifical State, with its splendid Vatican Museums visited by thousands of tourists every day. His story is made of ups and downs, of innovation and of splendid works towards the community but also of closure and schematic regimes, almost dictatorial, in the good sense of the term. His “vision of the world” was certainly not forgotten, but let’s try to  understand more.

Pio IX: Election and life

The activity of Pope Pius IX is almost unparalleled with the activity carried out by any other pope predecessor or precursor. The papacy of  Pius IX, born as Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, is the longest in Catholic history after Saint Peter’s, and lasted for 31 years, 7 months and 23 days. Despite his apparent liberal tendencies, the attentive approach to the community, and interest in the common thought of its faithful, his papacy was anything but “open-minded.”

Consider, in fact, that he himself proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, in order to celebrate the virginity and purity of the Virgin as a woman and mother. But his papacy was also much more, for example:

  • He published the famous “Quanta Cura”, an encyclical to denounce the errors of the society of the time
  • He wrote “the Syllabus”, for the same reasons as above, focusing on the disadvantage of modern age
  • He celebrated his priestly jubilee in 1869 He was the creator of Non Expedit, a famous document in which Italian Catholics were advised to not participate in voting and decisions regarding the country’s political life.

The beatification of Pius IX

Despite some slips here and there, despite the often retrograde and non-progressive mental closure and optics with which he used to look and judge the world, Pius IX was recognized by the Church as one of the greatest popes ever. In fact, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in honor of the Jubilee of 2000, on September 3. It was elected on 16 July 1846 and expired, and died of old age, on February 7, 1878.

Immaculate Conception

When it comes to Italian popes, Pius IX’s name stands out remarkably over others not only for the fervent activity carried out within the Catholic Church during the papacy period, and not just for his beatification. Pius IX was in fact the one who established, for the first time, the dogma of the festival of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The holiday falls on December 8 and is meant to celebrate the purity of the virgin. It was established during the period of greater splendor of the papacy, in 1854. But consider this: the motives are close minded, it is a way of celebrating a pure and chaste world.

But the fesivity of the Immaculate Conception established by Pius IX exists today and is celebrated every year. It is a festivity that has taken on more festive and less ethical features, which is seen as the opening for Christmas celebrations and is expected each year by millions of Italians …

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