Birthday: May 13, 1792
Spiritual & Religious Leaders
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti
Born Country: Italy
Born in: Senigallia, Marche, Papal States, Italy
Famous as: Religious Leader
father: Jerome Ferretti
mother: Catherine Solazzi
Died on: February 7, 1878
place of death: Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
Pope Pius IX was the head of the Catholic Church from 1846 until his death in 1878. He served for over 31 years and was the longest-reigning elected pope in history. His reign was marked by several notable events, including the assertion of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Syllabus of Errors, and meetings of the First Vatican Council. Born as Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, he took the name Pius from his mentor and friend, Pope Pius VII, whom he met in 1814 as a theology student. The ninth child of Girolamo Mastai-Ferretti, Pope Pius IX first came into prominence as a bishop of the Italian Catholic Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia. After serving there from 1827 to 1832, he became diocese of Imola and was later made a cardinal in pectore. In 1840, he became the official cardinal-priest of Santi Marcellino e Pietro. After Pope Pius IX’s death in 1878, his canonization process was opened in February 1907 by Pope Pius X. February 7, the date of his death, marks his liturgical feast day.
Childhood & Early Life
Pope Pius IX was born as Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti on 13 May 1792, in Senigallia, Marche, Italy. His father, Girolamo dei conti Ferretti, belonged to a noble family.
He attended the Piarist College in Italy. As a young student, he was engaged to be married to the daughter of the Bishop of Kilmore, Miss Foster. However, the marriage didn’t take place.
In 1814, as a theology student, Mastai Ferretti met Pope Pius VII after the latter’s return from French captivity. The following year, he joined the Noble Guard; however, he was soon terminated after an epileptic seizure.
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On 10 April 1819, Mastai Ferretti was ordained a priest. Between 1823 and 1825, he served as an auditor in South America and strived hard to map out the significant roles the Catholic Church would play in the recently formed republics.
Following his return to Rome, he was appointed the chief of a hospital where he worked from 1825 to 1827.
In 1827, at the age of 35, he became the archbishop of Spoleto. A year later, Mastai Ferretti was promoted to the post of diocese of Imola.
In 1840, he was made the cardinal-priest of Santi Marcellino e Pietro. During this time, he was considered a liberal as he supported administrative reforms in the Papal States.
Mastai Ferretti was officially crowned as Pope Pius IX on 21 June 1846.
The Revolutions Of 1848
The revolutions began in Sicily in 1848 and eventually the entire Europe suffered. During these revolutions, Pope Pius IX faced both liberal and nationalist demands.
The pope was compelled to establish a two-chamber parliament. He appointed ministries to save Rome from the revolt. However, none of them managed to control the situation.
After Pope Pius IX fled to the Kingdom of Naples in November, elections were held in his absence. On February 9, 1849, a “Temporal Power” was declared along with the formation of a democratic republic. The pope eventually returned to his place in April 1850.
After his return to Rome, Pope Pius IX became convinced that the actual danger to the Catholic Church lay in the secular ideas. After 1860, he became fully convinced that the notion of the ‘free church’ was just a trap.
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The pope later began taking measures to destroy liberalism in the church.
On December 8, 1864, he issued the famous syllabus, ‘Syllabus of Errors,’ in which he listed 80 ‘principal errors of our times’. While a few questioned the negative aspects of this syllabus, most of the people accepted it as it was created by the pope.
The First Vatican Council
Pope Pius IX decisively acted on the ancient disagreement between the Franciscans and Dominicans regarding the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
His decision in favor of the Franciscan view that was formulated as an infallible dogma raised the question of whether such decisions could be made without consulting the bishops.
The First Vatican Council was opened on December 8, 1869, to discuss the matter. The pope intervened to change the procedure of the council the following year.
A major topic of discussion was papal infallibility. The decision came in the pope’s favor and the infallibility was restricted to only those times when the pope made proclamations ex cathedra.
Pius IX celebrated numerous jubilees during his time, including Council of Trent’s 300th anniversary. On 29 June 1867, he invited 20,000 priests and 512 bishops on the event of Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter’s 1800th death anniversary.
He created 122 new cardinals when the number was limited to 70. He also canonized 52 saints, including Nicholas Pieck, Josaphat Kuntsevych, and the Martyrs of Japan.
During his pontificate, the pope made three new Doctors of the Church - Alphonsus Liguori, Francis de Sales, and Hilary of Poitiers.
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Papal States under Pope Pius IX
Until 1870, Pius IX also ruled as the ‘king’ of the Papal States. Several ministers were appointed, including those for internal affairs, commerce, war, and justice.
The financial management was predominantly in the hands of lay persons. Economic policies of the pope were met with criticism because much of his priority went to agriculture and forestry.
He made efforts to improve trade and manufacturing by giving papal prizes to the manufactures of materials destined for export.
In 1851, the pope formed a ministry of education and added agriculture science, geology, archaeology, botany, and astronomy to the study areas.
At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Pius IX had established the Jewish ghetto in Rome with other liberal measures. However, after returning from exile in 1850, he issued anti-liberal measures and re-instituted the ghetto.
In 1858, under his order, a six-year-old Jewish boy who had reportedly been baptized by a Christian girl, was taken away from his parents.
End of the Papal States
After defeating the papal army in a series of battles, Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia conquered all the papal lands except Latium with Rome.
On 20 September 1870, Rome was also invaded and Italy eventually approved the Law of Guarantees which denied the pope of his sovereignty over the territory. However, he was granted the authority to send and receive ambassadors. The pope rejected this offer and refused to recognize the new kingdom.
Death, Beatification, & Legacy
Pope Pius IX died on 7 February 1878, at the age of 85. His death marked the end of the second-longest reign in papal history after Saint Peter who had reigned for 37 years.
The process for his beatification began on 11 February 1907. Pius IX was eventually declared to be “Venerable” in July 1985. He was later beatified on 3 September 2000.
It is said that it was Pius IX who took the initial steps toward modern papacy.