Pie IX


May 23, 2022

Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, born May 13, 1792 in Senigallia (Papal States) and died February 7, 1878 in Rome (Italy), was the 255th pope of the Catholic Church, elected June 16, 1846 under the name of Pius IX ( in Latin Pius IX). His 31-year pontificate is the longest in the history of the papacy. Struggling with the revolutionary wave that upset European politics, Pius IX was torn between the status of universal pastor and that of pope-king of an independent state. Resolutely conservative, he is the author of the Syllabus and the encyclical Quanta cura, which condemn all forms of modernism in the Church. Pius IX proclaims the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. He convenes the first ecumenical council of the Vatican which notably defines papal infallibility, which further widens the fracture between the Catholic Church and the Christian denominations which are separated from it. The council, having accomplished its main goal, was suspended sine die when the Piedmontese troops invaded Rome. Pius IX, the last sovereign of the Papal States, then declared himself "Prisoner of the Vatican", a situation which was to provoke the Roman Question, which would not find its solution until 1929, with the signing of the Lateran Treaty between the State of the Vatican, which then becomes international law, and the Italian State. His process for beatification was opened in 1907 by Pope Pius X, which was not without provoking controversy, the Roman Question being still, at that time, of burning topicality. Under Popes Benedict XV and Pius XI, the trial proceeded very cautiously. Pope Pius XII had it activated in 1954; it finally came to fruition under John Paul II, who solemnly proclaimed him blessed in 2000. He is commemorated on February 7 according to the Roman Martyrology.


Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti is the son of Count Girolamo Mastai Ferretti and the Countess, née Caterina Solazzi, who had eight other children. After attending the Piarist college in Volterra, he studied theology and philosophy in Rome. He was then refused entry to the noble guards because of his health (he suffered from epileptic fits) and continued his studies at the Roman seminary. Ordained a priest in 1819, he was appointed spiritual director of a famous Roman orphanage. In 1823, Pius VII sent him to Chile as auditor of Muzi, apostolic delegate. In 1825, on his return, he was appointed by Leo XII canon of Santa Maria de Via Lata and director of the San Michele hospital. In 1827, he was made Archbishop of Spoleto. In 1832, he was transferred to the diocese of Imola, taking the personal title of archbishop. Pope Gregory XVI created him cardinal in pectore during the consistory of December 23, 1839. His creation was published on December 14, 1840. He received the hat of cardinal-priest with the title of Santi Marcellino e Pietro.


On June 16, 1846, the conclave following the death of Gregory XVI opened. Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini, Gregory XVI's secretary of state, is the conservatives' favorite while Cardinal Mastai Ferretti is the liberals' favorite. Cardinal Lambruschini obtains the majority of votes in the first rounds, but fails to collect the two-thirds of the votes required to be elected pope. Cardinal von Gaisruck, Archbishop of Milan, arrives too late to deliver the exclusive sentence pronounced by the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I, following Metternich's policy, against Cardinal Mastai Ferretti; the latter, having received two-thirds of the votes, accepted the tiara and then took the name of "Pius IX", in homage to the former Pope Pius VIII.

Liberal beginnings

Following his election, Pius IX enjoys great popularity within the Italian population: during his episcopate in Romagna, he could not ignore the need for reforms from which the Papal State suffered and which raised the