Beatifications for Sunday, September 3, 2000
Beatification of Blessed Pope Pius IX
Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti - May 13, 1792 - February 7, 1878
Taken from The New Sacrifice, A Call To Peace, vol. 6, no. 11, November 1995 issue
The thirty-two year Pontificate of Blessed Pope Pius IX was the longest tenure of an acting Pontiff in Church History, save for the thirty-four year reign of Saint Peter himself from 33 to 67 A.D. Pius' long papacy is remembered for his landmark proclamations of Church Dogma on the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility.
Pope Pius IX brought the Church through the turbulent times of Illuminism, Nationalism and Civil War as the world entered the second half of the Nineteenth Century. He did it be establishing the long-awaited Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and then, fifteen years later, followed that with the First Vatican Council in which the infallibility of the Pope was confirmed so that all knew when the Vicar of Christ speaks on faith and morals, his teaching is infallible. The echo of these proclamations, heard round the world, strengthened the faith of Catholics everywhere in their resolve to persevere against those who continued to assault Holy Mother Church. While the Church grew stronger in numbers, her enemies also mounted as politics and nationalism manipulated many to turn against Rome. In 1870 the Papal States were abolished and Pius made a prisoner within the Vatican. Yet he never compromised on the faith, reneged on his duties as the Chief Shepherd of the Church, nor forsook his flock. Like Pope John Paul II today, Pius IX promoted evangelization and reached out to every nation with a spiritual family relationship that kits the Pontiff with the faithful in far away places; places where he was loved and respected by all. One of those places was America, embroiled in a bitter Civil War between the States. The fallout from this vile skirmish that claimed well over a half million lives was felt for years after, but through the consolation and guidance of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church many wounds were healed and new hope was injected into the Catholic faithful of both the Union and Confederacy. Pius steered the Church to the shores of the late Nineteenth Century when he would be succeeded by another strong Pontiff - Pope Leo XIII.
Two weeks after the death of Pope Gregory XVI on June 1, 1946, the College of Cardinals elevated Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti to the Papacy. Thus began the impact-filled thirty-two year reign of Pope Pius IX. He entered amidst a growing resentment and persecution of the Church within his own homeland. Half way around the globe in America the bloodiest civil war the world had ever seen was simmering. Communism was festering in back rooms and its manifesto being drawn up as the master plan to destroy the Church. The enlightenment had fostered a growing distrust of authority and solid foundations such as the Church. Science was challenging the buttress of civilization and Christianity with far-fetched theories that threatened the existence of God.
Into this hedonistic scenario God chose to send a robust 54 year-old Italian who would head the Holy See until he reached eighty-six in 1871. Born in Seningallia, Italy on May 13, 1792, Ferretti was ordained in 1819 and became Archbishop of Spoleto in 1827. His predecessor Pope Gregory XVI elevated him to Cardinal in 1840.
Known as a loving and kind man, Pius IX had a special affinity for the poor and the bourgeoisie whom he looked on as God's chosen children. Over the centuries the Papal States had had its share of problems and infighting. Early in his papacy Pius IX took measures to appease the masses by instituting a more democratic form of government, appointing many laypersons to high places within the government and establishing a Parliament so the vox populi would be heard. Little did he now the can of worms being opened for nationalism played a pivotal role in the ruin of this ideal. Around the middle of the nineteenth century there were eight different governments in Italy. The Italian Peninsula was indeed partitioned in the north by Lombardy and Venice who were under the auspices of Austria, while in the south Naples and Sicily were ruled by kings who were hated by the common people yet continued to reign only because of the Austrian army's powerful support. Meanwhile Tuscany, Parma, and Modena were ruled by various members of the Austrian family as bequeathed to them. These, along with Sardinia, composed the Papal States. This situation of being ruled by foreigners in their own land and the fact that Italians themselves were divided politically and philosophically contributed to growing unrest as revolution became more and more a reality.
Two years into his pontificate, all hell broke loose as Pius IX's prime minister Count Rossi was murdered by the self-proclaimed leader of the revolution Giuseppe Mazzini. Pius was imprisoned in the Quirinal Palace and his fate left in Mazzini's hands. Mazzini, who openly professed his obsession with occultism, was linked to the dreaded Illuminiti. Before the revolutionary leader could exact sentence on the pontiff, Pius IX escaped with the assistance of the Spanish ambassador, fleeing to the city of Gaeta. Outraged over his escape, Mazzini went ballistic and set out to reap revenge on Rome. Roman churches and prelates were easy prey for Mazzini's marauders as they pillaged and plundered church after church and killed countless priests. Mazzini confiscated all Church property, proclaiming it belonged to the people. He committed the ultimate sacrilege when he commissioned a disloyal priest to celebrate Mass on Easter Sunday 1848 while he himself sat on the Papal throne inside St. Peter's Basilica.
As if being exiled wasn't bad enough, this insult to the Church was too much and so Pius IX turned to the Catholic powers of Europe for help. No sooner said then done as the French and Austrians came to his aid allowing Pius IX to return to Rome after they had forced Mazzini and his band of fomenting Young Italians (Giovinne Italia) to flee to England. Though various Italian governments, chief among them Sardinia, he was never successful. It's ironic that in the fall of 1870, while Mazzini was scheming another takeover of Rome and Venice, he was captured and jailed in Gaeta; the very city Pius IX had taken refuge in twenty-two years earlier.
Though the Holy Father still had great concern for the people, he realized from his experiences that liberalism could play no art in the Church. He fought valiantly against liberalism and affirmed Church control of science, education and culture within the Papal States. With even more opposition from the liberals, he was steadfast against the demands for constitutional government and the unification of Italy for that would only usher in modernism and more enemies of the Church. Within the confines of the Papal States, Pus IX maintained ecclesiastical and political control. But, as we shall see, his hold was slipping and the devil would eventually have his way twenty years later when the Papal States would be dissolved.
However, all was not doom and gloom during the longest tenure of a pope in history. The Blessed Virgin Mary was to play a key role in her Divine Son Jesus' Church.
The eminent scholar Cardinal Ferrata, born during Pius IX's papacy, presents a vivid pictures of the Blessed Mother's role and Pius IX's part in the overall picture when he writes: "On Gaeta's rock, in the land of his exile, Pius IX had resolved to proclaim the sweet and consoling dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception. This pious and prudent design was carried out in Rome a few years later, when, on the 8th of December, 1854, in the presence of 192 bishops, the august and infallible voice was heard, that, beneath the glorious vault of Bramante and Michael Angels (sic), proclaimed to the Church the preservation of the Blessed Virgin from the taint of original sin. The definition of this dogma so dear to the hearts of the faithful, assigned to the Mother of the Divine Word her true place in the plan of our redemption, encircled her virginal brow with a new sublimest glorification of moral beauty. A thing much forgotten in these days. That announcement fell upon the world like a chaste effluence of grace and love; it transported the children of the faith to a pure region, where they light contemplate as in a vision celestial the matchless Virgin who hovers like a spotless dove over the muddy waters of the deluge."
It took over eighteen centuries for Holy Mother Church to proclaim that Mary, the Mother of God was truly conceived without original sin. Though long believed and observed by the Hierarchy, it was not until Pius' time that God chose to make it official dogma through His Vicar on earth for the world was entering upon a special time, the Age of Marian Apparitions.
Pius IX declared ex cathedra, "We declare, announce, and define that the doctrine which states that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of God Omnipotent and because of the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race, free from all stain of original sin, is revealed by God and must be believed firmly and with constancy by all the faithful."
This dogma, coming on the heels of Our Lady's powerful messages at Rue de Bac and LaSalette was strongly reinforced four years later on February 11, 1858 in Lourdes, France, when Our Lady appeared to visionary Bernadette Soubirous, and conveyed to her six weeks later on March 25th: "Que Soy Era Immaculada Councepciou", translated "I am the Immaculate Conception."
From a small stream below a rock grotto hewn over centuries of water erosion, a world-famous shrine was erected that today stands as one of the largest and well known in the world. But Lourdes is known not as much for the messages imparted as at LaSalette, Fatima, Garabandal, Medjugorje, Betania, etc, but for Heavenly confirmation of Church Doctrine. The Blessed Mother came to substantiate the dogma proclaimed by Pius IX and to champion the cause of her Divine Son's True Church on earth in addition to bequeathing the miraculous healing power of God through the waters from the spring near the Grotto.
For healing was essential during these times, both in Europe and elsewhere. England was returning to normal with the Catholic hierarchy reestablished in the British Isles thanks to the tireless efforts of Irish statesman Daniel O'Connell. France was recovering from the aftermath of Napoleon's reign of terror, falling back on the one saving factor of the turmoil-their faith. Spain, too, held true to the Faith, while evangelization re-emerged in northern Europe amidst strong Protestant strongholds in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, in Eastern Europe Russia was wielding their power. Only in Poland, the Ukraine and the Slav countries did the faith grow stronger than ever amidst persecution and grave concerns over the conditions of the proletariat. In addition, the continuing Russian indoctrination and occupation of Poland put added pressure on the Poles and the Catholic Hierarchy in Poland whose customs and liturgy had been stripped and censored by Russian rule. Ecclesiastically, culturally, politically and economically Poland was being rent asunder on the east by Russia and on the west to Prussian Poland, the citizens were being indoctrinated in a Germanization policy. Add to this the fact that two Germans were coming on the horizon who would reek further havoc among the masses, causing repercussions that are still sending shockwaves through the world today, despite the so-called thaw of cold war relations. These two men were Karl Marx and Friedreich Engels, who together collaborated on the Communist Manifesto Das Kapital. Only in the southern sector of Poland where the country was subjected to Austrian rule, where Poles allowed to live their faith and culture freely. Little did anyone know then that out of this raged country, subjected to centuries of turmoil and terror, would arise one of the greatest popes the Church has ever known-our present Holy Father Pope John Paul II - Karol Wojtyla.
There would be more persecutions throughout Europe as the nineteenth century would wind down, but now let us turn our attention back across the seas to America where the Church was being sorely tested on all sides with the great Civil War of North vs. South. We would hope history would have taught all God's children a vital lesson especially when one sees the havoc wrought in the former Yugoslavia, in East Timor, in Africa, in India and countless other places around the globe where the Church and the people have been ravaged by hate on all sides. As General William Tecumseh Sherman, who marshaled the horrendous March through Atlanta, said so succinctly, "War is Hell!"
No war, except the on-going War of Abortion, has ever taken such a toll. Over 620,000 were killed in battle; 364,000 northern casualties (one in every five soldiers) and 258,000 Southern deaths (one in every four soldiers). Devastation and death ruled the day. Yes, war is hell. Satan loves it, but God truly deplores it. That itself should be enough to call on the Gift of Wisdom and Understanding in opting for Peace in all countries.
Conflict was not confined to our shores for in Europe hatred was intensifying against the one rational power left in the world - the Roman Catholic Church, the one obstacle to the Illuminati's plan for world domination. Though the tragic events in America greatly saddened the Pontiff, Pope Pius IX had even more pressing concerns in his own backyard. After the pontifical army had been massacred near Castelfidardo in 1860, the Papal States were reduced to a mere "Patrimony" of St. Peter. War was being waged between the king of Sardinia and Austria through the former's alliance with the French. This weakened further the strength of the pontifical forces since the Austrians had pledged their support and protection of the Pope outside the City of Rome, while France would guard the Holy Father within the boundaries of Rome. With both forces at odds, Pius IX was left to fend for himself. But he was not inactive during this captivity within Vatican City. Long in the planning, Pius IX knew the time had come to convene the First Vatican Council. Thus, on December 8, 1869, on the 15th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the 20th General Council of the Church began. This Council is famous for defining the infallibility of the Pope. With 698 bishops present in St. Peter's the Council first defined Church Doctrine concerning God and Divine Revelation, then the fact that Faith does not destroy reason but raises it up, bringing a new light to reason that refuted the concept of humanism. Then the Pope and Council condemned 80 dogmatic heresies and proclaimed in a dogmatic constitution on July 18, 1870 Papal Infallibility. This meant that when in all matters on Faith and Morals what he spoke would be infallible for he is the rock upon which Christ built His Church and as Jesus Himself proclaimed in Matthew 16: 18, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
It is ironic that at the exact time that the Pope's spiritual powers were being elevated, his temporal powers were being stripped by the Italian armies under King Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia, for they were storming the gages of the Vatican. After a month's siege, the Pope surrendered to Emmanuel and his Piedmontese army on September 20, 1870 rather than causing any bloodshed. The king usurped the Holy Father's rule, denying him the right to govern the Papal States. Yet, fearing the wrath of the Universal Church and her allies, he made a concession that the Pope could retain the Church of St. Peter and the Vatican Palace, known today as Vatican City. In addition, the Italian Government agreed to pay the Pontiff three and a quarter million lire annually. Though Pius IX was a holy man, he was also stubborn. He obstinately refused to accept the conditions set down by Emmanuel, retreating into Vatican City where he remained a voluntary prisoner until his death in 1878.
The doctrine of infallibility did not sit well in Protestant Germany. The chancellor of Germany, Count Bismarck was concerned that if the Pope gained more power and respect among German Catholics, he, as chancellor, would be unable to totally unite the various states of Germany into one strong power. Thus, in an effort to stifle any interference by the Church in the affairs of state in Germany, he instituted a general persecution of the Church. Prussia broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican and expelled the Jesuits along with other Religious Orders from Germany. It was typical of the anti-Catholic Illuminati-inspired and Free Mason purge actions in pre-revolutionary France a century earlier with the Civil Constitution on the Clergy for the Jesuits still were perceived as the strongest force within the Church. The Bismarck passed the infamous "May Laws" which were similar to France's Laws" which were similar to France's Civil Constitution on the Clergy and Britain's 1801 Act of Union which Daniel O'Connell successfully fought. The May Laws stated that no one but a German born citizen could be appointed to any office in the Church with all seminaries under the state and one could not become a priest who had not received his education in the secular German schools and universities. Needless to say, the bishops refused to go along with these absurd laws and a bitter conflict broke out between the Church and the Bismarck. Switzerland and Italy joined in the persecution and there were great attacks and slander heaped on the Catholic Press in Europe. The Bismarck had intended these laws to further unite the Germans in nationalism but the backlash was that they divided the country further.
Pius IX passed on to his Heavenly reward on February 7th, 1878, just four days short of the 20th Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes which he paved the way for his successor to approve in 1890. Four years earlier and
eight years after Pius IX' death, those cruel anti-Catholic laws were repealed but the 255th vicar in the succession of St. Peter would not live to see this glorious day. Again, irony of ironies was the fact that King Victor Emmanuel succumbed the same year as Pius IX. It was left to his successor, the mighty Pope Leo XIII who would see the Church into the volatile twentieth century and face Communism head on, as well as the growing factions striving to fulfill satan's destiny.