Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti
 (b.1792, el.1846, 1878)


The following is adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

POPE PIUS IX , (1792–1878), Pope from 1846. Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti was ordained priest in 1819, took part in a Papal mission to Chile in 1823–5, was appointed Abp. of Spoleto in 1827, Bp. of Imola in 1832, and created cardinal in 1840. On the death of Gregory XVI (1846), who had estranged the Italian people by his oppressive measures, he was elected Pope because of his reputation as a partisan of liberal ideas. He inaugurated his reign with a general amnesty of political prisoners and exiles and showed himself favourable to the movement of national unity; but his concessions came too late, and when, in 1848, he refused to make war on Austria, he lost popular favour and, in November of the same year, was besieged by the revolutionaries in the Quirinal.

He escaped to Gaeta, whence he addressed an appeal to the Catholic European powers for the restoration of the Papal State; this was effected after the occupation of Rome by the French army in 1849. From his return to Rome in 1850, Pius abandoned his liberal attitude in politics. He saw his temporal power gradually decrease, as the Romagna was lost in 1859 and Umbria and the Marches in 1860, until, after the seizure of Rome by Victor Emmanuel on 20 Sept. 1870, he was virtually deprived of all temporal sovereignty by the Law of Guarantees of 13 May 1871, against which the Pope solemnly protested.

Though an apparent failure from a political point of view, the pontificate of Pius IX was marked by its spiritual and ecclesiastical achievements. The erection of many new dioceses and missionary centres, as well as the restoration of the hierarchy in England (1850) and the Netherlands (1853) and the conclusion of concordats with many European and American governments, testified to a vigorous life within the Church. His definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1854 provided a stimulus to Catholic devotion, while the issue of the Syllabus Errorum and the encyclical Quanta Cura in 1864 supported the traditional beliefs of Catholicism by condemning contemporary rationalism, pantheism, religious liberalism, and other forms of modern philosophy. His reign was marked by a tendency to centralize doctrinal and ecclesiastical authority in the Papacy. The most important event was the definition of Papal infallibility by the First Vatican Council of 1869–70; though this gave rise to the Old Catholic schism and the Kulturkampf in Germany, it may be argued that the increased authority it added to the Papacy on the spiritual plane in the end more than compensated for the loss in temporal dominion that marked Pius IX’s pontificate. He was the first Pope whose reign exceeded the 25 years traditionally ascribed to the rule of St Peter. He was beatified in 2000.

His Acta were pub., 7 vols., Rome [c.1854–78]; the official docs. for the latter part of his pontificate are also in ASS. G. Maioli (ed.), Pio IX: Da vescovo a pontefice. Lettere al Card. Luigi Amat, agosto 1839–luglio 1848 (Collezione storica del Risorgimento, 2nd ser. 38; 1949). The numerous Lives incl. those by A. de Saint-Albin (Paris, 1860; 2nd edn., 1870; new edn., with continuation, 3 vols., 1878), J. M. Stepischnegg (2 vols., Vienna, 1879), F. Hayward (Paris, 1948), E. E. Y. Hales (London, 1954), A. Serafini (vol. 1 [covering 1792–1846] only pub., Vatican, 1958; based on unpub. sources), P. Fernessole (2 vols., Paris, 1960–3), G. Martina, SJ (Miscellanea Historiae Pontificiae, 38, 51, and 58; Rome, 1974–90), and A. Polverari (Studi Piani, 4–6; Vatican, 1986–88; see other vols. in this series connected with the cause for his beatification). R. Aubert, Le Pontificat de Pie IX, 1846–1878 (Fliche and Martin, 21; 1952), C. Falconi, Il Giovane Mastai: Il Futuro Pio IX dall’Infanzia a Senigallia alla Roma della Restaurazione 1792–1827 (Milan, 1981). A. M. Ghisalberti, Nuove ricerche sugli inizi del pontificato di Pio IX e sulla consulta di stato (Regio Istituto per la Storia del Risorgimento italiano, Biblioteca Scientifica, 2nd ser. 30; 1939). P. Pirri, SJ, Pio IX e Vittorio Emanuele II dal loro carteggio privato (Miscellanea Historiae Pontificiae, 8, 16, 17, 24, 25; 1944–61). D. Demarco, Pio IX e la rivoluzione romana del 1848 (Collezione storica del Risorgimento italiano, 2nd ser. 36; 1947). A. B. Hasler, Pius IX. (1846–1878), Päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit und 1. Vatikanisches Konzil (2 vols., Stuttgart, 1977); id., Wie der Papst unfehlbar wurde (Munich, 1979; Eng. tr., Garden City, NY, 1981). [W.] O. Chadwick, A History of the Popes 1830–1914 (Oxford, 1998), esp. pp. 61–272. G. Martina, SJ, in P. Levillain (ed.), The Papacy: An Encyclopedia, 2 (2002), pp. 1191–7, s.v.; R. Aubert in NCE (2nd edn.), 11 (2003), pp. 384–7, s.v.


ASS Acta Sanctae Sedis (41 vols., Rome, 1865–1908).

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