Freemasonry in the Life and Times of Pope Pius IX, by Fr. Leonard Feeney, S.J., 1950.
IN THE YEAR 1792, on May thirteenth, in the ancient Italian seaport town of Sinigaglia, high up on its perch overhanging the Adriatic Sea, there was born to the Mayor of the city, Count Girolamo Mastai-Ferretti and his wife, the Countess Caterina, their seventh child, Giovanni-Maria Giovanni-Battista Pietro Isidoro. The year 1792 was an ominous one, as far as the world outside the castle of the Mastai-Ferretti’s was concerned, and it would forever overshadow the life of little John Mary Mastai-Ferretti, one day to become the great Pope Pius IX and to rule the Church of Jesus Christ from the throne of Peter for thirty-two years, the longest pontificate of any Pope except Peter.
He would, this boy born in the tragic year of 1792 — gently nurtured, sensitive, generous, gay, loving, pure, true-hearted, possessing great charm and great good looks, taught as a child to revere the poor, deeply devoted to the Church and known for his constant and absorbing love of the Blessed Virgin Mary — live all his days surrounded by revolution; revolution diabolically planned and sustained, the like of which never before was seen. The unbelievably horrible French Revolution, the first in the satanic plan to tear down the thrones and altars of Christendom, was already three years old in the year 1792, when John Mary Mastai-Ferretti was born.
It is not at all surprising that the French Revolution, about which we in America, as if by a gigantic conspiracy, have been taught so little of the real truth, should be visited upon the land which had allowed its king — in his mad passion to place himself above and beyond the jurisdiction of the Vicar of Christ — to cause the death of Pope Boniface VIII. It is true that France remained nominally Catholic both during and after the Protestant revolt, but it never as a nation quite returned, even in the periods of Catholic revival, to its old purity of Faith and its old filial devotion to the Popes, which had been its crowning mark before the outrage and death of Pope Boniface VIII in 1303.
It was France’s voice which, in the fifteenth century, through the University of Paris and its sons, John Gerson and Peter d’Ailly, was loudest in proclaiming the Pope inferior to, and therefore subject to, a general council of the Church! It was France’s “Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges” which not only insisted on the supremacy of a council over the Pope, but practically deprived the Pope of any jurisdiction over the French Church. “Gallicanism,” or the equivalent of what would amount to a French National Church, independent of the Holy See, was not very far off, after that.
It was the traitorous political ambition of France which set up Protestantism permanently in Europe. It was France’s Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), Prime Minister and real ruler of the country under Louis XIII, who, to ensure the political victory of France in Europe, took the side of the Protestant Princes of Germany against the Catholic Emperor, Ferdinand II, at the most critical moment of the Thirty Years’ War between the forces of Protestantism and Catholicism. Cardinal Richelieu hired the Protestant military genius, Gustavus Adolphus, for five tubs of gold (approximately two million dollars), to enter the war against the Catholics. The defeat of Ferdinand made forever impossible his dream of a Europe united again as one family by the Faith, so close to realization but for the treachery of the French Cardinal.
It was France who, in 1682, under its absolute monarch, Louis XIV and his subservient clergy, more loyal to their King than to their God, passed the famous Four Gallican Articles, which again not only practically withdrew France from the jurisdiction of the Pope, but declared in effect that Christ’s Vicar was not infallible. And even though Louis XIV withdrew the articles after two Popes had condemned them and his country had been interdicted, Gallicanism was by then deeply and firmly established in the thought of the people. It would, along with the Jansenist heresy (a species of Calvinism within the Church) — and the shocking looseness of morals both of Louis XIV and his great-grandson and successor, Louis XV, of their courts and of French society generally — disastrously weaken the Faith and prepare France for the religious skepticism and free thought already prevailing in England and Germany.
In the literary hands of the Freemason Voltaire and the equally anti-Christian writer Rousseau, along with the French Encyclopedists who were in the pay of Frederick the Great of Prussia, also a Freemason, this “free thought” would usher in the “Age of Enlightenment” in France and lead straight to the sheer atheism and diabolical mockery of God of the terrible French Revolution.
It was precisely at the hour in history when France, now the leading nation of the world, was giving to that world the spectacle of a dissolute Catholic King, Louis XV, who with his court lived lives of such shameless corruption that they rivaled in depravity even the notoriously wicked courts of Catherine of Russia and Frederick of Prussia — when the vices of royalty had passed down through the nobles and bourgeoisie even to the poor, and the seed of Lucifer gave every appearance of triumphing over the seed of Mary — that God allowed a scourge to come upon Europe, just as He had permitted the scourge of Mohammedanism to ravage the heretical and sinful East in the seventh and succeeding centuries. Indeed, the scourge which brought about the temporary chastisement of Europe in the eighteenth century, although it crossed the Channel and entered the Continent decked out in new clothes carefully refashioned and tailored in London, had its origins very definitely in the East. Its symbols, its ceremonies, its dress, its traditions, its rituals, all were Eastern. William Thomas Walsh, writing in his book, Philip II, said of the degrees and rituals of Freemasonry that they “are shot through with Jewish symbolism: the candidate is going to the East, towards Jerusalem, he is going to rebuild the Temple, destroyed in fulfillment of the prophecy of Christ ... The official coat of arms of the English Grand Lodge, even to this day, is the one made in 1675 by Rabbi Jacob Jehuda Leon, known as Templo, who went from Holland to England that year.”
Modern Freemasonry — for such is the scourge — came into being in England in 1717, when the ancient Catholic guild of working masons, Protestantized long since in England, but existing in Great Britain and Europe for many centuries, was revised. Its professional, laboring character was dropped, and it emerged a philosophical, pseudo-religious secret society, its formulas, ceremonies and traditions all pointing to a Jewish origin, although its new constitutions and ritual were drawn up by a Scotch Presbyterian minister, James Anderson, and a Huguenot refugee minister, John T. Desaguliers, and its Grand Master, in 1722, was the profligate, thoroughly immoral Duke of Wharton who everywhere was reputed to be “from no vice exempt.”
It was in 1725 that the new Freemasonry spread to Paris, in 1728 to Madrid, in 1729 to Ireland, in 1731 to the Hague, in 1733 to Hamburg, in 1736 to Germany, and so on, to Italy.
Voltaire became a Freemason in England, around 1727, and on his return to France did everything in his power to spread it among the nobility and intellectuals. Unspeakably immoral, both in his life and in his writings, the intimate of Frederick the Great, because of the use Frederick could make of his extraordinary ability to write, Voltaire shared the Prussian King’s consuming hatred of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. It was their constant cry that the “Christian religion is an infamous religion. It must be destroyed by a hundred invisible [sic] hands. It is necessary that the philosophers should course through the streets to destroy it as missionaries course over the earth and sea to propagate it. They ought to dare all things, risk all things, even to be burned, in order to destroy it. Let us crush the wretch! Crush the wretch! Écrasez l’infâme!”
Freemasonry spread like wildfire over Europe. It became the rage in Paris. The nobility and some members of the higher clergy — especially in France where Gallicanism and Jansenism had, in the century before, as we have seen, prepared the ground for the perpetual ridicule of religion and all its institutions, including even holy matrimony, which, in the 1700’s, was the order of the day — were perversely fascinated by the doctrines of Freemasonry, and they entered its lodges in great numbers. Later, many of them, when all their theoretical dreams were come true, at the height of the Revolution found themselves mounting the bloody steps to the guillotine, ruefully facing at last the bitter truth that they had, along with the downfall of the Pope and the existing order, plotted their own destruction.
The teachings of Freemasonry spread far and wide the spirit of revolt not only against the authority of the Vicar of Christ, but against the authority of the State, as well. In the third quarter of the 1700’s, a new and even more sinister element was added. This was the “Illuminism,” so-called, of Adam Weishaupt, a professor of canon law in the University of Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, which gave to Masonry the mold and lasting form by which it has, despite all opposition, come down to us today and by which “it will advance until its final conflict with Christianity must determine whether Christ or Satan shall reign on this earth to the end.”
Weishaupt’s way, which is still the way of the Masonic lodges today, was first to entice men into his organization through its lowest degrees. As Monsignor Dillon explained in his famous Edinburgh lectures:
A man, though in Masonry, may not be willing to become an atheist or a Socialist, for some time at least. He may have in his heart a profound conviction that God exists, and some hope left of returning to that God at or before his death. He may have entered Masonry for purposes of ambition, for motives of vanity, from mere lightness of character. He may continue his prayers and refuse, if a Catholic, to give up the Mother of God and some practice of piety loved by him from his youth. But Masonry is a capital system to wean a man gradually away from all these things. It does not at once deny the existence of God, nor at once attack the Christian dispensation. It commences by giving the Christian idea of God an easy and, under semblance of respect, an almost imperceptible shake. It swears by the name of God in all its oaths. It calls Him, however, not a Creator, only an architect — the great Architect of the universe. It carefully avoids all mention of Christ, of the Adorable Trinity, of the unity of Faith, or of any faith. It protests a respect for the convictions of every man, for the idolatrous Parsee, for the Mohammedan, the heretic, the Jew, the schismatic, the Catholic. By and by, in higher degrees, it gives a ruder shock to the belief in the Deity, and a gradual inducement to favor Naturalism.
As time goes on, the man who manifests any real religious depth or signs of conscience never goes beyond the lower degrees. He remains instead a member of the rank and file of Masonry, of the respectable front presented to the world, but he and his kind are never trusted with the real secret. On the other hand, those who meet the Masonic requirements, who are possessed of no fine moral sensibilities, proceed in the ways of irreligion, immorality, espionage and occult science until they arrive at the advanced degrees and are let in on more and more of the frightfully guarded secrets of the Order.
But, and this is more than ever true in our day, the visible leaders of Masonry — and of all the secret societies which are but subsidiary to it — are never the real leaders! For beyond the visible leaders there is an inner circle, organized on Masonic lines, whose members are hidden and unknown to the public. Beyond this inner circle, there is another and still more secret ring. At last, at the very top, there sits the lone head and his small — six at most — carefully chosen coterie of advisers, who direct the invisible government, not only of Masonry, but of the world. These men are known to but very few on Earth.
At the great coming together of the Masonic bodies from all over the world at the so-called Congress of Wilhelmsbad on July 16, 1782, Adam Weishaupt gained control of all the secret societies of the Congress, which at that time — only sixty-five years after Masonry’s modern revision — represented the amazing total, of three million members! Weishaupt next succeeded in allying Illuminism and Freemasonry, an alliance which has been of the darkest significance for the world. It is impossible to exaggerate the depths of its power for evil. For the face which has looked out upon the world from behind the mask of Illuminized Freemasonry, from that day to this, is none other than the face of Lucifer himself.
This is the enemy whom Pope Leo XIII saw in the vision which caused him to faint in terror for the world. This is the enemy whom he named in his encyclical, Humanum Genus, in which he wrote to his sons, the Bishops:
We wish it to be your rule first of all to tear away the mask from Freemasonry, and to let it be seen as it really is, and by sermons and pastoral letters to instruct the people as to the artifices used by societies of this kind in seducing men and enticing them into their ranks ...
This it was which caused Pope Saint Pius X to cry out in his very first encyclical:
So extreme is the general perversion that there is room to fear that we are experiencing the foretaste and beginnings of the evils which are to come at the end of time, and that the Son of Perdition, of whom the Apostle speaks, has already arrived upon Earth.
This it was which caused the Editor of the Acta Sanctae Sedis (Acts of the Holy See), writing for the July 13, 1865 issue, to say:
If one takes into consideration the immense development which these secret societies have attained; the length of time they are persevering in their vigor; their furious aggressiveness; the tenacity with which their members cling to the association and to the false principles it professes; the persevering mutual cooperation of so many different types of men in the promotion of evil; one can hardly deny that the Supreme Architect of these associations (seeing that the cause must be proportioned to the effect) can be none other than he who in the sacred writings is styled the Prince of the World; and that Satan himself, even by his physical cooperation, directs and inspires at least the leaders of these bodies, physically cooperating with them.
It was at the Congress of Wilhelmsbad that Masonry became “one organized atheistic mass, while being permitted to assume many fantastic shapes.” The Knights Rosicrucian, the Templars, the Knights of Beneficence, the Brothers of Amity, and many, many others, subversive and irreligious as each was in its own right, now were united to the body of Illuminized Freemasonry. All would have, under whatever name and whatever form they chose, the same counterfeit respect for religion, the same apparent acceptance of the Bible, the same outward zeal for the care of widows and orphans, the ill and the destitute. All would have the same terrible oaths of secrecy; all would have some variety of the same fantastic, Asiatic, Hebrew and Turkish ceremonial, “to which any meaning from the most silly to the deepest and darkest could be given.” All would have the same ascending degrees, although the number might vary, and all would have the same fearful death penalty for the violation of secrets, for indiscretion, and for treason.
All the high initiates would have, unknown to their brothers of lower degrees, the same program for the annihilation of all religion, of all love of country and all loyalty to sovereigns. All would strive for the abolition of monarchy and ordered government, the abolition of private property and inheritance, the abolition of marriage and morality, and the institution of required government education of children. (This plan, as we know, is being fully worked out in our time.)
It was at the Congress of Wilhelmsbad that the Jews were emancipated, as the result of a carefully produced wave of pro-Semitism which broke over Europe in the wake of a book, Upon the Civil Amelioration of the Condition of the Jews, written by a man named Dohrn under the direction of Moses Mendelssohn and brought out in August of 1781. “This book,” we are told, “had a considerable influence on the revolutionary movement. It is the trumpet call of the Jewish cause, the signal for the step forward.”
The Jews, whose function of abettor and overseer at the births of Freemasonry and Illuminism had been performed in the role of privileged servant, were now, at the Congress of Wilhelmsbad, admitted on full equality to the family circle. And the Jewish influence, as Father Edward Cahill, S. J., brings out in his book, Freemasonry and the Anti-Christian Movement, soon became one of the main driving forces behind Masonry. It is the influence which today dominates the whole organization.
At Wilhelmsbad, it was decided to move the headquarters of Illuminized Freemasonry to Frankfurt, significantly at that time the headquarters of Jewish finance, with the familiar name of Rothschild already well in the lead. It was at Frankfurt that the incredible plans for world revolution were perfected, with France chosen to be first on the list and Italy soon to follow. It was at Frankfurt that the deaths of Louis XVI of France and Gustavus III of Sweden were resolved upon.
The diabolical certainty with which all these schemes of the enemies of Christianity came off, exactly on schedule, is startling! They did achieve the French Revolution, and it was the most atrocious, cruel and bloody massacre the world had ever seen up to that time. In 1792, the year in which Pope Pius IX was born, in the “September Massacres,” three hundred assassins from the Paris underworld and Paris jails, mad with dope and drink and lust for blood, massacred, amidst indescribable orgies and satanic abandon, the Archbishop of Arles, two bishops, four hundred priests and monks, one thousand Catholic nobles, and eight thousand citizens, in Paris alone. At Meaux, Châlons, Rennes and Lyons, similar scenes were taking place.
They did, these enemies of Jesus Christ, during all of the next century — particularly in 1830, 1848 and 1870 — cause revolutions all over Europe and the world. They did attack Italy. They did seize the Papal States and conquer Rome. They boasted that the papacy was no more, and in that they were, and always will be, devastatingly wrong, but they did bring off their scheduled revolution in Russia, in 1917, and the unparalleled revolution of the First World War, in 1914, when twenty-seven nations were joined in bloody combat and 37,508,686 men were killed, wounded, crippled and taken prisoner; when the Masonically conceived League of Nations was foisted on the world by the President of the United States, the Freemason Woodrow Wilson, under the influence of his fellow Masons, Colonel E. M. House and Mr. Bernard Baruch. Mr. Baruch ever since, as the publicized “Elder Statesman and Adviser to Presidents,” has directed from behind the scenes the government of the United States, whether Democratic or Republican.
They did, these terrible enemies of the Church, achieve the revolution of the Second World War, in 1939, and its carefully directed outcome, that twin sister of the League of Nations, the even more sinister United Nations, through which every country of the world lies now in imminent danger of losing its sovereignty and becoming part of the long planned, diabolically schemed, One World Government, whose aim is finally to enslave the whole Earth!
That the French Revolution of 1789 was plotted and carried out by the Illuminized Freemasons, there is no need to establish since the Masons openly boast about it themselves. All of the Revolution’s apostles and leaders were Masons: Voltaire, Rousseau, Lafayette — the American Revolutionary War hero of whom Marie Antoinette, after many betrayals of the King at his hands, cried out, “Better perish than be saved by Lafayette!” Talleyrand — the apostate Catholic bishop who consecrated the first constitutional bishops of the Revolution in spite of the decree of Pope Pius VI in 1791 declaring the automatic suspension of any priest or bishop who took the oath to maintain the civil constitution drawn up for the Church in France by the Revolutionary government, for the sole purpose of completely subjecting the Church to the domination of the State. “Separation of Church and State” has ever meant but one thing to the revolutionaries: Control of the Church by the State, and to that end they have, successfully, popularized their slogan, “Separation of Church and State,” until Catholics look upon it almost as a dogma.
The members of the terrible Jacobin Club of Paris and the leaders of the Reign of Terror, Danton, Marat and Robespierre, all were Masons. The throne was betrayed by Philip, Duke of Orleans, the first Grand Master of the Grand Orient Lodge of France, and blood relative of King Louis XVI.
It was well known in every country of Europe that the cause of the French Revolution could not be attributed to the abuses of the ancient regime. In Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette — despite the tower of calumnies raised against the beautiful Queen of France by the powerful Masonic enemies who plotted the country’s downfall through this lively and charming daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, calumnies perpetuated by the biased and silly English literature through which the story of her life has come to Americans — France had at last a thoroughly good King and Queen. They were good Catholics, this tragic husband and wife, good sovereigns, and good parents to their beloved children. And they had worked hard, the King to wipe out abuses and the Queen to dispense charity to the poor, whom she loved. She did not, at any time, ever say of the poor those foolish words which are, in America, a byword whenever her name is mentioned, “Let them eat cake!”
The Revolution’s purpose was not to uproot abuses, but to destroy the monarchy and overthrow Christian society. And it accomplished both. The Revolution took the lives of the King and Queen of France, both of whom died nobly. “I forgive the authors of my death,” Louis said, “may my blood never be avenged upon France.” And it is told of Marie Antoinette that she carried herself, during the last days of her life and during the terrible hours before her execution, with the heroic fortitude of a martyr and the calm dignity of a saint. Their little son, Louis XVII, died miserably later, in a cobbler’s shop.
America knew, in 1798 at least, the cause of the French Revolution. After the Terror had spent itself — after the terrible de-Christianizing of France, when its churches had been desecrated and closed, the adorable Sacrament of the Altar blasphemed, a notorious prostitute adored on the main altar of Notre Dame as the Goddess of Reason, when “streetwalkers dressed in chasubles, and donkeys laden with sacred relics had passed through the streets,” when the rivers and roads ran red with the blood of the guillotined, when Danton, and Marat and Robespierre, at last had followed each other to the death they had so mercilessly dealt out day after day to countless poor victims, when the National Convention had given way to the Directory, and the Directory was about to give way to the Consulate of Napoleon — Timothy Dwight, President of Yale, addressed the people of New Haven:
No personal or national interest of man has been uninvaded [in the French Revolution]; no impious sentiment of action against God has been spared; no malignant hostility against Christ and His religion has been unattempted. Justice, truth, kindness, piety, and moral obligation universally have been not merely trodden underfoot ... but ridiculed, spurned and insulted. ... For what end shall we be connected with men of whom this is the character and conduct? ... Is it that our churches may become temples of reason, our Sabbath a decade, and our psalms of praise Marseillaise hymns? ... Shall our sons become the disciples of Voltaire and the dragoons of Marat, or our daughters the concubines of the Illuminati?
It was in such a world of revolution that Pope Pius IX grew to manhood. In 1798, when he was but six years old, a French army, for the third time in two years, marched into Italy. It entered Rome, pronounced Pope Pius VI deposed as temporal sovereign, and proclaimed the Papal States a Republic! While the Pope was pleading with his captors to be allowed to remain and die in Rome — he was then eighty years old — and his enemies, having insolently refused him, were plundering his room and tearing from his finger his episcopal ring, outside in the Roman streets a statue, of the goddess of liberty trampling underfoot the papal tiara and the sacred symbols of the Faith, was being set up at an entrance to the Bridge of Sant’ Angelo; the papal coat of arms was being painted, amid howls of lewd laughter, on the drop curtain of a popular Roman theater; the sacred vessels which had been stolen from the altars of churches were being used in the wild orgies which were going on all over Rome to celebrate the Republic. The Revolution, indeed, had moved on, according to plan, from Paris to Rome!
Pope Pius VI died, in 1799, at Valence, on the Rhone River, a prisoner of the French. And hearts were heavy with sorrow and foreboding in the castle of the Mastai-Ferretti’s, high up in Sinigaglia, on the Adriatic Sea, in the Papal State of the Marches.
Pope Pius VII, whose pontificate opened on March 14, 1800, and closed with his death on August 20, 1823, when he was eighty-three years old, was to prove the greatly loved father and friend of Giovanni-Maria Mastai-Ferretti. Pope Pius VII, like his predecessor whose name he had taken, would also suffer exile and imprisonment at the hands of the masters of revolution. And for all of the long and weary twenty-three years of Pius’ pontificate, Giovanni-Maria Mastai-Ferretti — as a schoolboy of thirteen in the college of Volterra, in Tuscany, as a lad of seventeen stricken with epilepsy at the height of all his young promise — would be poignantly aware of his Holy Father’s suffering, humiliation and trial, little realizing that he was to follow upon the same road, bearing the same burdens, occupying even the same bishopric of Imola, on his way to the bishopric of Rome.
Pope Pius VII was to suffer, as had Pope Pius VI, and as would Pope Pius IX, the loss of the patrimony which for fifteen centuries had belonged to the Popes, the saviors of Rome and the founders of Western Civilization. But to Pio Nono, as Pope Pius IX was affectionately called by the whole world, the patrimony of Saint Peter would not be given back.
Although popularly it has been said that the French Revolution and its anti-Christian program came to a close with the rise of Napoleon and the restoration by him of the practice of the Catholic Faith, forbidden under the Directory, the Revolution, as planned for the world, was very far from ended in 1800, when the pontificate of Pope Pius VII opened and the consulate of Napoleon Bonaparte began. For Napoleon, military genius though he might be and remarkable leader of men, was a Freemason, a member of the lodge of the Templars, the extreme Illuminated Lodge of Lyons. He had been created by Masonry, and he must do its bidding. As long as he was obedient to his masters, France would be his, all Europe would be his. His armies would meet with the fabulous success which has ever since been the talk of the world, for, coupled with his own extraordinary gifts, Masonry’s all-seeing, all-knowing eye would have taken care that, as Father Dillon says:
... the resources of the enemies of Napoleon were never at hand, the designs of the Austrian and other generals opposed to him were thwarted, treason was rife in their camps, and information fatal to their designs was conveyed to the French commander. ... But when Masonry had reason to fear that Napoleon’s power might be perpetuated; when his alliance with the Imperial Family of Austria, and above all, when the consequence of that alliance, an heir to his throne, caused danger to the universal republic ... when, too, he began to show a coldness for the sect, and sought means to prevent it from the propagandism of its diabolical aims, then it became his enemy, and his end was not far off. ... His opponents began to get that information regarding his movements, which he had obtained previously of theirs. Members of the sect urged on his mad expedition to Moscow. His resources were paralyzed; and he was ... sold by secret, invisible foes into the hands of his enemies.
And so we see that it was not for the honor and glory of God that Napoleon had, in 1802, made Catholic worship once more lawful in France, but rather because his appointed mission was to restore order again to the country, and he knew that it was only with the aid of the Church that he would, for the time being, be able to accomplish it. It is interesting to note that among the decrees which Napoleon added to the Concordat of 1802 between France and the Holy See (but which additions were never accepted by Pope Pius VII) there appear the old Gallican Articles of 1682, which were to be taught in the schools of theology; clergy violating these articles were to be punished by the State!
Actually, despite the ban of the Popes, the Gallican Articles were being taught at the time in all the French theological schools, and it is upon Gallicanism that the great French Catholic, the Count de Maistre, lays the blame for “the withering of Catholicism in France and all the evils which have befallen her, and, through her, all of Europe.” Gallicanism, indeed! Gallicanism, the old sin of Lucifer, whose “I will not serve!” is the battle cry of Hell. Gallicanism amply paved one of the great highways leading to the Judaized Freemasonry of the eighteenth and subsequent centuries.
And so it is not surprising to find that Napoleon’s whole aim, after the Concordat, was to secure for the State full control over all relations between the French Church and the Holy See. Insult to the Holy Father followed upon insult. In 1809, the troops of Napoleon — First Consul no longer, but Emperor since 1804 — occupied the Papal States, which then became part of the French Empire. Pope Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon after that, and the Emperor, enraged, wrote to his wife Josephine’s son, Eugene, whom he had made Viceroy of Italy, “Does he not know that the times are greatly changed? Does he mistake me for Louis the Mild? Or does he think that his excommunications will cause the arms to drop from the hands of my soldiers?”
Four years later, in 1813, the arms did drop from the hands of Napoleon’s soldiers, become either too weak or too frozen any longer to clasp them, as the hitter cold and gnawing famine of the terrible retreat from Moscow took toll, not only of their arms, but of their lives. And in April of 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte, who had ill learned the wisdom of the old French proverb: “Qui mange le Pape, meurt!” (Who eats the Pope, dies!), signed his abdication in the very Castle of Fontainebleau where for so long he had held Christ’s Vicar, Pope Pius VII, a prisoner.
The month following Napoleon’s abdication, Pope Pius VII returned in triumph to Rome. He had stopped on his way at Sinigaglia, where he was treated with great reverence by the Mastai-Ferretti family. Giovanni-Maria accompanied the hero-Pontiff on the remainder of his journey, and he rejoiced when the Pope’s party went out of its way to stop at the Holy House of Loreto, to pay homage to God’s Mother, for it was in her own little Nazareth house, now tenderly enshrined in the handsome basilica built at Loreto to hold it, that Our Lady had answered miraculously the prayers of Giovanni-Maria and his mother, and had cured his epilepsy.
It was Pope Pius VII who, in 1819, when Giovanni-Maria’s ordination was in question because of the impediment of epilepsy, said to him as he knelt before him awaiting his final decision, “We grant you what you ask, dear son, because it is our conviction that this disease will never again afflict you.” And never again did the dread malady trouble the life of Giovanni-Maria Mastai-Ferretti — never, through all his succeeding years, as priest in Rome, as counselor to the Apostolic Delegate to Chile, as domestic prelate, as Archbishop of Spoleto, as Bishop of Imola, and as Cardinal-Archbishop.
He was very much beloved by his people in each of these assignments. When he was transferred from Spoleto to Imola, in February, 1833, so heartbroken were the people of Spoleto at losing him that they sent a delegation of citizens to Rome to beg Pope Gregory XVI to send some other bishop to Imola and leave with them their greatly loved shepherd. But the Holy Father was forced to refuse them, for the choice of the Archbishop of Spoleto for the see of Imola had been very carefully made. Imola, and the whole north of Italy, was seething with revolt — the backlash of the Masonically planned revolutions which had occurred throughout Europe in 1830 — and it was of the most urgent necessity that bishops be sent to the turbulent cities who would be able to win the love of the people and keep them safe from the designs of the secret societies.
For Italy was honeycombed with secret societies. Masonry had done its work with amazing success. The revolutionary clubs, which sprang up every month somewhere in the Italian States during the boyhood of Giovanni-Maria, and the many planned revolutionary movements within the Papal States, had gradually but thoroughly indoctrinated the Italian people. Everywhere now, in 1833, the false ideals of Liberalism — the name by which the revolutionary anti-Christian movement was most popularly known — were become indeed the breath and bone and thought and sinew of the once gay and happy Italian people. And as the century advanced, new Liberal fronts were opened up. Intellectual, Economic, Social, Political and Religious Liberalism, all fused together to make the nineteenth century the “Age of Liberalism.”
Liberalism’s roots are, it is true, to be found in Philip the Fair’s overthrow of papal authority, in the spirit of the Renaissance, and in the Reformation, but its evil flower came to full blossom under the satanic aegis of Freemasonry. Liberty, in the Masonic sense of license to do what one wants in every territory of life — with no spiritual restrictions — in the hands of the Masonic propagandists overturned, one after the other, the ancient institutions of Christendom. In vain, did the Popes say, “Human liberty does not mean the right to do anything one desires. It means, rather, freedom from restraint in doing what one ought to do; freedom to do what is right; freedom to obey the laws of God as laid down in Divine Revelation and as interpreted by His Vicar, His voice on Earth, the Holy Roman Pontiff.”
Religious Liberalism, perhaps we should pause to say, has three forms.
The first, Absolute Religious Liberalism, stems straight from the Freemason Rousseau, and is the fulfillment of all that Gallicanism — and its counterparts in other countries — ever implied. It advocates the complete subordination of the Church to the State, the Church being permitted to exist only so long as it continues to serve the temporal prosperity of the State!
The second form is Moderate Religious Liberalism. Its slogan, “a free Church in a free State,” is the one which Pope Pius IX fought so strenuously during all the long years which followed his exile in Gaeta. Moderate Liberalism does not speak of subordinating the Church to the State. It speaks only of separating the two, a concept which has been condemned by Pope Pius IX again and again, as we shall see.
The third form of Religious Liberalism is Catholic Liberalism, condemned many times by Pope Pius IX, even in his first encyclical, Qui pluribus, written on November 9, 1846, when he said of Catholic Liberalism, “ ... To this end is directed the dreadful system of religious indifference ... by means of which these crafty men, putting aside all distinction between virtue and vice, truth and error, honesty and baseness, deceitfully pretend that men can attain eternal salvation in the practice of any religion, just as if there could be any common part of justice with iniquity, or any fellowship of light with darkness, and an agreement of Christ with Belial ... ”
Pope Pius X, when he was Patriarch of Venice, warned his clergy:
Let priests be on their guard against accepting any doctrines of that Liberalism which, under pretext of good, aims at effecting a reconciliation between right and wrong.
Liberal Catholics are the great interfaith devotees, the one-religion-is-as-good-as-another advocates, who “have good friends among the Masons, and, papal pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding, can vouch for them individually and collectively as being above reproach.” They know many Jews who, unbaptized and infidel though they be, are sure to go to Heaven!
And yet it is told about Pope Pius IX that, although appointment to the see of Imola had more often than not held for its bishop the promise of a cardinalate, Pope Gregory XVI waited for eight years before making Archbishop Mastai-Ferretti Cardinal-Archbishop (which he did in 1840), because Rome was uneasy about his reputed Liberalism. And it is true that when, on the sixteenth of June, 1846, in the fifty-fifth year of his life and the twenty-eighth of his priesthood, Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti, exceedingly handsome, gracious, kindly, smiling, and plentifully endowed with the gentle, winning courtesy of the true Italian, was elected Pope, the Liberal world — the world of revolution — rejoiced, and the truly Catholic world groaned.
The world of revolution rejoiced that at last a Liberal Pope had come to the Chair of Peter! The orthodox Catholic world groaned because it had learned from long experience the tragic lesson of which Pio Nono did not seem to be aware, namely, that there is no way of winning, by kindness in any form, the satanic hordes which, masked behind the deceptive, soothing, seductive lure of promises of progress, democracy, constitutionality, liberty, equality and fraternity, were tearing from their thrones every Catholic king in Christendom, were abolishing monarchies because monarchies had always been the support of individualism, were reducing to a low, common level every high Christian ideal, were confiscating monasteries, closing convents, legislating for government education of children, sending priests to state universities, dictating the course of studies in seminaries, filling episcopal sees without the authorization of the Pope, while — in order eventually completely to control them — they were flattering “the people” by telling them that the world was theirs to rule by divine right, theirs apart from any influence or restriction on the part of the Church, which Church, they assured them, had always been their enemy.
And when, immediately after his election, Pio Nono gave orders that the Jews should be let out of the ghetto, when he emptied the jails of the thousands of political prisoners placed there for the safety of society and turned loose upon the world incorrigible men who, entirely given over to the revolution and the Devil, would stop at no evil — mass murder, torture, rape, sacrilege, arson, calumny, intrigue, devil-worship — to effect the downfall of the Pope and the Church and the whole Christian order, and when the mobs, in a frenzy of gratitude and entirely mistaking his full purpose, milled around at night in the square before the Quirinal awaiting Pio Nono’s blessing, filling the air with their cries of “Evviva Pio Nono!” wise heads in Europe bowed in fear and consternation.
When Pope Pius IX had made the notoriously Liberal Cardinal Gizzi his Secretary of State, when his reforms included — besides his excellent provisions for the welfare of the Papal States and the education of children — a law establishing a free press, little realizing that the hundreds of newspapers which immediately sprang into being would, under Judaized Masonry’s control, be largely responsible for the downfall of his own civil authority as ruler of the Papal States and the vicious attacks made on his spiritual power; when he had relaxed the restrictions placed upon the Jews by his predecessors and had allowed them even to share in the Papal charities — the same Jews who would later join with the revolutionaries against him; when he had given in to the Liberals’ desire that laymen should replace the clergy in the Papal government posts; when he had approved a new Council of State made up of the younger prelates; when he had instituted one constitutional reform after another, into which the most inflamed revolutionaries underhandedly insinuated themselves — the Liberal and Protestant world applauded. England praised him to the skies, and he became the most fantastically acclaimed and popular man in the whole world!
And up in Austria, its wise, prudent and able old Chancellor, Prince Metternich — who, practically single-handed and alone, had, ever since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, staved off the enslavement of the Catholic Church and the countries of Europe, even though he was called a “reactionary” for doing so — shook his experienced head. He issued warning after warning to his Holy Father, Pope Pius IX, all of which went unheeded, and all of which a brokenhearted Pio Nono lived later to realize would have saved the day for his Papal States.
Finally, when Pope Pius IX granted a Civic Guard for Rome, even Cardinal Gizzi resigned, realizing what the Pope, in his credulous enthusiasm did not see, that putting arms in the hands of the people was tantamount, at that time, to arming the revolutionaries. Metternich completely despaired. Nor did the stories of the Pope’s angelic personal life, his purity, charity, preaching, devotions, console him. The old statesman wrote, in 1847, from the depths of his anguish:
The Pope reveals himself every day more and more lacking in practical sense. Born and nurtured in a liberal family, he has been formed in a bad school. A good priest, he has never turned his mind toward matters of government ... he has allowed himself, since he has assumed the tiara, to be taken and ensnared in a net from which he does not any longer know how to disentangle himself. And if matters follow their natural course now, he will be driven out of Rome.
Tragic and deplorable as all this is — for Metternich’s prophecy came true — we have the glad relief of knowing that Pio Nono’s Liberalism was political and not religious, except for two flares of unfortunate utterance which, characteristically, no one regretted more than he and no one tried harder to undo. And although, man being one and integral, life cannot ever be so departmentalized that thought in one territory does not flow over and influence another, nevertheless, in his allocution Ubi primum, given in secret consistory on the seventeenth of December, 1847, Pope Pius IX showed himself deeply distressed that he should have been declared to be Liberal in matters of the Faith.
Many enemies of the Catholic Faith direct their efforts in our time mainly to trying to bring to the same level of the doctrines of Christ any monstrous and extravagant opinions, or they try to mix these opinions with Catholic doctrine. And so they plot to propagate more and more that impious system of religious indifferentism. Finally — frightful to say — there are some who have offered such insult to our name and Apostolic dignity as not to hesitate to make us appear as sharers of their folly and as celebrated promoters of this wicked system.
These people ... conclude that we entertain kind feelings toward any manner of men, in such a way that we think that not only the sons of the Church, but others also, however foreign they may remain to Catholic unity, are equally on the way of salvation and can attain to eternal life. Words fail us, from very horror, in detesting and abhorring this new and horrible insult against us. ... Let, therefore, those who wish to be saved come to the pillar and ground of truth ... to the true Church of Christ which has, in its bishops and in the Supreme Head of all, the Roman Pontiff, a never-interrupted succession of Apostolic authority, whose first office it is to preach, to guard and to protect with all its might the doctrine preached by the Apostles in accordance with the commandment of Christ; which [Church] therefore has grown from the time of the Apostles in the midst of difficulties of every sort, and has flourished renowned through the whole Earth by the splendor of its miracles, enlarged by the blood of its martyrs, ennobled by the virtues of its confessors and virgins, strengthened by the testimonies and most wise writings of its Fathers, and will flourish in all the regions of the Earth, and will shine forth perfect in the unity of its Faith, of its Sacraments and of its sacred government. We who, though unworthy, govern in this supreme Chair of Peter the Apostle, in which Christ Our Lord placed the foundation of this His Church, shall never at any time whatsoever abstain from any pains and labors so as to bring, through the grace of Christ Himself, those who are ignorant and erring, to this one and only way of truth and salvation. Let them, moreover, who are against us remember, that Heaven and Earth shall indeed pass away, but nothing can ever pass away from the words of Christ, nor can anything be changed in the doctrine which the Catholic Church received from Christ to guard, protect and preach.
Pope Pius IX had already, in his first encyclical, Qui pluribus, of November 9, 1846, renewed the condemnations of his predecessors against “those baneful secret sects who have come forth from the darkness for the ruin and the devastation of the Church and State,” and in the same encyclical he condemned:
the dreadful doctrines ... by which men pretend that they can obtain eternal salvation in the observance of any religion whatsoever.”
He then exhorted his bishops to foster, with great firmness, in everyone “union with the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, and obedience towards the Chair of Peter, on whom, as on a firm foundation, the whole Faith of our most holy religion rests.”
These are most reassuring proofs of orthodoxy, with no hint of religious Liberalism. As the year 1848 opened, however, Pope Pius IX was genuinely alarmed. For 1848 was again the year of Revolution, carefully dated, painstakingly planned and diabolically carried out. And the Pope, to his profound dismay, found himself everywhere acclaimed as on the side of the revolutionaries, everywhere counted as one with them, as everywhere the insurrectionists advanced to the cry of Viva Pio Nono! Throne after throne toppled, in the year 1848. Catholic ruler after Catholic ruler, whether he be the chancellor behind the throne or the president of a country, was forced to flee.
For the order had been sent out, the fuse had been lighted, by the supreme, secret head of Freemasonry, who at this time was none other than the to-all-appearances highly respectable, exquisitely appointed, last man in the world to suspect, British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston! It was Lord Palmerston who made and broke the Masonic rulers of Europe. It was he who set up and hurled down the Freemason Emperor Napoleon III of France, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was Lord Palmerston who made and broke Mazzini — he of the great sad eyes, ascetic countenance, slender frame, and mien of a mystic and visionary, but who actually was Lucifer’s able first agent, the head of the dreaded secret society of the Carbonari, the lone founder of the bitterly anti-Catholic Young Italy, and the successor of the corrupt Italian nobleman who went under the assumed name of Nubius (whom Mazzini is said to have poisoned), who was the Grand Master of the Alta Vendita, which, as Monsignor Dillon tells us, “ruled the blackest Freemasonry of France, Germany and England.”
It was Lord Palmerston who aided the extraordinary rise of the Prussian Chancellor Prince Otto von Bismarck, and set the stage for his victory over Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War, the war which brought into being the German Empire of the Kaisers at the expense of the defeated Catholic Austria and France. It was Lord Palmerston who provided the Freemason Cavour, Prime Minister of Sardinia, with the money whereby that poor little Italian state, comprising Sardinia and Piedmont, would later war on Pio Nono and annex the Papal States, all Italy and finally Rome itself, and set up in the place of the Pope-King the rotund, bewhiskered little man, Victor Emmanuel, who, while claiming to be a Catholic, would, like any common thief, rob the Holy Father of the patrimony which was Saint Peter’s!
It was Palmerston’s England which would open its arms and accord a hero’s welcome to Mazzini and Garibaldi, fresh from the pillage and plunder and ravage of Italy. Garibaldi, whose face was “so like the face of the Christ of the Renaissance pictures that the students of Italy could not help but follow him,” and of whom the infamous, revolutionary 1866 Catechism in Italy uttered the following appalling blasphemy by way of diabolical parody:
Make the sign of the cross: In the name of the Father of my country, the Son of the people and the Spirit of liberty, Amen.
Q. Who has created you a soldier?
A. Garibaldi has created me a soldier.
Q. Who is Garibaldi?
A. Garibaldi is a spirit most generous, blessed of Heaven and Earth.
Q. How many Garibaldis are there?
A. There is only one Garibaldi.
Q. How many persons in Garibaldi?
A. In Garibaldi there are three persons really distinct: the Father of his country, the Son of the people and the Spirit of liberty.
Q. Which of the persons became man?
A. The second, i.e., the Son of the people.
Q. How was he made man?
A. He took a body and soul as we did in the most blessed womb of a woman of the people.
Some awful premonition of all this was in the heart of Pio Nono as the year 1848 began to unfold. In January, revolt broke out in Sicily, moved on from there to Naples, and finally included practically every Italian city, from Lombardy to the tip of the Peninsula. The Paris revolution, which for a while threatened to rival the days of 1789, broke out on the twenty-fourth of February. In March came the revolution in Vienna, and the flight, at last, of Metternich. One by one, the rulers of the small kingdoms and duchies and republics which comprised Italy — and upon the precarious existence of which the Supreme Directory of the Masons had placed their hopes for the eventual absorption of the Papal States in a Masonically controlled and united Italy under one carefully chosen head — were forced to grant constitutions, the first step in the whole plan. The Revolution’s leaders reasoned that once the Pope’s temporal power was over, his spiritual power soon would follow, and the institution of the papacy would be no more.
Finally, in March also, the sadly awakening, overly generous and trusting Pope found himself forced, too, to give in. On March 15, 1848, he granted a constitution to the Papal States. And the end was in sight! In April, the Piedmontese General, Durando, made a proclamation to his troops, deliberately and on his own authority placing Pope Pius IX behind a war against Austria (calculated to take advantage of the revolution going on in that country), and naming him as the leader of a crusade of all Italy against foreigners, with the end that Italy should become a united republic with the Pope as President!
All during April, matters went from bad to worse. The lay ministers of the papal government beseeched the Pope to declare war against Austria. The Cardinals in consistory opposed it. The ministry resigned, and Rome was immediately filled with armed men and milling, riotous mobs. The mobs were soon joined by the Pope’s Civic Guard! Pio Nono was virtually a prisoner in the Quirinal, and it was necessary to place a guard at the residences of the Cardinals day and night. The press and the Masonic clubs, which very much resembled the Jacobin clubs of the French Revolution, openly discussed an alliance with the Piedmontese Government and the necessity of abolishing then and there the papal rule!
It was at this moment that the scales fell from the eyes of the hitherto lavishly loved and popular “Liberal Pope,” Pio Nono. It was at this moment that the various masks fell from the face of the whole anti-Christian conspiracy, and Pope Pius IX saw beneath the Liberal, Radical, Progressive, Socialist-Communist fronts to the Thing that beneath all of them was plotting for the souls of men and the overthrow of the Church with malignant malice and consuming hatred. And the Holy Father at last realized that never could peace be made with It, never could It be converted, never could It be baptized, for the choice of the Father of Lies, the Progenitor of Evil and the Dispenser of Spiritual Deformity, in every one of its monstrous, hideous, revolting forms, is forever fixed against Him Who is All Truth, All Beauty and All Goodness.
* * * * *
Pio Nono was never again the same. In the thirty years which were to follow, he presented to the hordes of the ancient enemy of his beloved Blessed Virgin Mary a face of such implacable, unrelenting resistance that he became as universally hated by the Liberals, Protestants and Radicals all over the world as he had formerly been lauded by them.
On April 29, 1848, in an act of supreme courage, with reports of revolution coming to him, it seemed from every corner of the Earth, its roar reaching his ears most threateningly from beneath his own windows in the Quirinal, Pope Pius IX published the allocution which froze the smiles of adulation on the faces of the Liberals and the Radicals and turned them, in the space of seconds, into grim, deadly and dangerous enemies. For the Pope not only refused to declare war on Austria, since the Austrian people were one in the “undivided sentiment of his fatherly love,” but he disavowed any connection with Mazzini’s sly schemes for an Italian republic and he broke, once and for all, with the Risorgimento (Resurgence), the name given to the Italian Nationalist movement.
He warned all Italians against the “perfidious designs and counsels of men who would detach them from the obedience due their respective sovereigns.” “As to ourselves,” he went on, “we declare in the most solemn manner that all our thoughts, our cares, our endeavors, as Roman Pontiff, aim at enlarging continually the Kingdom of Christ, and not at extending the boundaries of the temporal principalities which Providence has bestowed on the Holy See for the sole dignity and free exercise of its supreme apostleship.”
Violence followed upon violence when it was fully realized that Pio Nono had served notice on the world that he was neither the knowing nor the unknowing leader of Liberalism. Young Italy and the secret societies under Mazzini raged, conspired and plotted. So did Cavour, the Prime Minister of Sardinia, for the interests of the Piedmontese. Lord Palmerston worked openly through his special envoy in Rome, Lord Minto, whose policy it became to encourage the most dangerous revolutionaries in Italy. Pio Nono was fully aware of all this, and to those who had the honesty and courage to reproach him with the folly of his former credulous and childlike trust in the success of his “reform program,” his vain belief that he could win by kindness where his predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI, had failed by severity, and his misplaced confidence in the “gratitude of the people,” he would answer simply that he was “very like the unwise and doting parents who had made over their goods to their children before their death, and are turned out of their house and home in their old age!”
“I am like the little shepherd boy,” he said, “who had for companion a great necromancer. The boy had seen him again and again call up the Devil, and had learned the formula of incantation. So he too one night tried the power of the spell. The evil one arose at his call, and the frightened child would fain have got rid of him, but he had not, however, learned the spell that could lay the fiend, who henceforth haunted and tormented him.”
September came, in that dreadful year of 1848, and on the sixteenth of the month Pio Nono appointed, as his Prime Minister, Count Pellegrino Rossi, the extraordinary man who, although born in Tuscany, had been, in turn, a revolutionary, a political exile, a Swiss politician, a professor of law at Paris, a member of the French Chamber of Peers, French Ambassador to Rome until the Paris revolution of 1848, confidant and close friend of Pio Nono, and now his Prime Minister. And by September, that month apparently so prized of revolutionaries, Mazzini’s “war of the people” had gotten well under way. In the streets of the cities of the north, hired revolutionaries were slaughtering government officers before the eyes of the people. Men were being hunted down like beasts, their bodies left to lie rotting where they had fallen.
Nevertheless, Count Rossi was able to get in long hours of work, straightening out the affairs of the Papal States. During all of October, the war was moving down from the north, and Rome was being agitated by every kind of wild rumor and political intrigue. The air was tense with mystery and the foreboding of evil. Rossi was warned early in November that revolt, bloody and terrible, was planned for the fifteenth, the day set for the opening of the Chambers at the Palace of the Cancelleria.
And as the month advanced and the number of the calumnies circulated about him multiplied — for the revolutionaries knew him to be a strong man and the greatest opposition to their plans for the seizure of the Papal States — and as the people everywhere, in the streets, restaurants, bars, the army and the Civic Guard, were more and more taken in by the inflammatory lies, the warnings to Rossi became more frequent and alarming. But the brave Minister remained firm in his resolve to open Parliament on the appointed day, and to open it himself in the name of the Pope-King.
By way of precaution, he reviewed the Carabinieri — the mounted soldiery — on the fourteenth, in the open square in front of Saint Peter’s, and he had them parade through the streets of Rome, little suspecting that every man had been won over to the enemy! During the night of the fourteenth, warning after warning reached him. “Do not go to the council hall! Death awaits you there!” wrote the Countess de Menon. “Do not leave your house! You shall be murdered!” the Duchess di Rignano begged him. But he continued, late into the night, to add the finishing touches to the speech which he had prepared for his delivery on the morrow.
And over in the slums of the Trastevere, across the Tiber, two leaders of Mazzini’s deadly Young Italy, Dr. Pietro Sterbini and Luigi Brunetti, the latter the son of the wily and evil “Ciceruacchio” whom Pio Nono had once unwittingly trusted, were practicing on the dead body of a recently murdered Italian precisely where and how to strike so as to divide the great artery of the neck, and so insure the instant death of the victim.
Morning came, and with it more warnings to Rossi and to his poor tortured wife. The Pope also had been warned, and threatened. He tried to persuade his Minister from going to the Parliament, and when finally he failed he begged him, “At least, do not be rash and expose yourself needlessly. You must spare our enemies a great crime, and me a sorrow that nothing could remedy!”
“I have no fear, Your Holiness,” Rossi answered him. “These men are cowards and will not dare carry out their threats. Only bless me, most Holy Father, and all shall be well.”
“I defend the cause of the Pope,” he told the Monsignor who stopped him at the door with still another warning, “and the cause of the Pope is the cause of God. I must and will go.”
At quarter past twelve, his carriage rumbled into the courtyard of the Palace of the Cancelleria. A battalion of the Civic Guard was drawn up in the square. And in the courtyard, a hissing, howling, completely hostile mob watched him step out and, with calm and unperturbed countenance and steady step, make for the stairs leading to the Council Chamber. Immediately, they pressed about him. Somewhere, a cry for help rang out, and as the attention of the guard was directed toward it, Ciceruacchio’s son, Luigi Brunetti, drove his waiting knife straight into the throat of the brave Minister of the Papal States.
But one man rushed to aid him, Righetti, the deputy minister of finance who had accompanied him. He raised him in his arms, the great, gaping hole in his neck visible for all to see, and he bore him to the rooms of Cardinal Guzzoli, nearby. A priest from a neighboring church reached him in time to give him the Last Sacraments. And a few moments later, he died.
Righetti, with tremendous courage, then rode through the mad crowd in the courtyard and the square, to the Quirinal, to the anguished Pope, the blood of the dead Premier still wet upon his clothes, his hands and his face. That night, lest his body be outraged in death, they secretly buried the fallen defender of the Vicar of Christ. And that night, too, the murderer of her husband was paraded in triumph before the home of the Countess Rossi, as she sat stunned and broken, with her children. The mob compelled her servants to light her house in celebration of their deed, as they venerated the knife which had achieved their purpose.
Pope Pius IX was now in the hands of his enemies. He was now completely in the power of the carefully planned Revolution, which sought not only his death, but the death of the papacy. One by one his Government had deserted him. The Carabinieri had gone over to the Revolution, broken open the jails and released upon the city frenzied and vicious criminals eager to shed the blood of one or many, for money. The Roman senators, Italian nobles, magistrates and officials, all of whom were indebted in one way or another to the Holy Father, abandoned him and fled to their estates in the country. Only the diplomatic corps were faithful. When they beheld the mob milling dangerously in the streets before the Quirinal on the day after the murder of Count Rossi, and the soldiers acting suspiciously, they came in a body to Pope Pius IX, prepared to lay down their lives to protect him — all, that is, with the exception of the ministers from Great Britain, Sardinia and America! They were conspicuously absent.
The Ambassadors arrived at the Quirinal just in time. When the republican deputies, headed by Galletti, the close personal friend of Mazzini, and the notorious Sterbini, the leader now of Young Italy, together with their “guard of honor” (twenty thousand of the Pontiff’s own troops) burst in upon the Pope — determined to force upon him the five impossible demands they had drawn up, consent to which would mean the end of the Papal States and cooperation with Mazzini’s anti-Christian regime — they found him surrounded by the pitiful few in all Rome who remained faithful in this terrible hour: one hundred of the Swiss Guard, two Cardinals — one the brave Cardinal Antonelli, who would follow the Holy Father into exile and serve as his Secretary of State through the desperate, sorrow-filled years ahead — a few priests, a few servants. Pio Nono was walking calmly up and down in the midst of them, prepared to die rather than give in.
He refused to treat with the revolutionaries. “Go, gentlemen,” the angry Ambassador from Spain, Martinez de la Rosa, told them, then. “And tell the leaders of this revolt that if they persist in their odious project they must march over my dead body to reach the sacred person of the Sovereign Pontiff. But tell them, too, that the vengeance of Spain will be terrible!”
Galletti went out, and on the very spot where Pio Nono had been wont to give them his blessing, during the days in which they thought he would give them everything they wanted — even eventually to handing over the Church which Jesus Christ had founded unto the end of time — the intimate of Mazzini told the people that the Pope had refused their demands. Immediately, a reign of terror broke out. The terrifying beat of drums sounded from every section of the city. It reached the ears of the Pope and his embattled few over the ominous thunder of the crowd. Soldiers, on foot and on horseback, Civic Guardsmen, crack troops back from war, all stormed the papal palace. Men scaled the walls of the Quirinal on long ladders. Twice the mob set it on fire. Bullets were aimed at the windows, and the valiant Swiss Guard returned the fire.
A group of sharpshooters sent a rain of rifle shot into the windows of the Pope’s anteroom, and at four O’ Clock in the afternoon, Bishop Palma was shot dead as he looked out, for a moment, from the window of his apartment. At eight O’ Clock, after the Civic Guard had brought up two heavy pieces of field artillery and trained them on the front gate, the Pope received a deputation bringing to him the “people’s ultimatum,” which was, that if he did not consent to the adoption of the five points previously submitted, they would break into the Quirinal and put to death every person found inside it with the single exception of His Holiness himself.
It was then that Pope Pius IX addressed the Ambassadors. He announced to them that, to avoid bloodshed and still more horrible crimes, he was forced to yield to the choice of a ministry his enemies had selected, which included Mazzini’s friend, Galletti, as Premier, and Sterbini as Minister of Commerce. “But at the same time,” the Holy Father declared in formal protest, “I wish you and all Europe to know that I do not even nominally take any part in the government, and that I remain absolutely a stranger to its acts. I have forbidden any abuse of my name. I have even forbidden the future use of the ordinary formulas.”
The Holy Father had not affixed his signature to the five-point program; that he would never do. On the eighteenth of November, the revolutionary government dismissed the Swiss Guards in spite of their protests, and the Vicar of Christ was left in the care of the murderous men who made up the Civic Guard. On the evening of the twenty-fourth of November, the French Ambassador, the Duke d’Harcourt, arrived in state at the Quirinal, and demanded an audience with His Holiness on urgent business. He was admitted to the Pope’s apartment and engaged him at once in earnest conversation.
Presently there came forth from the rooms of the Pontiff a simple parish priest in the company of Pio Nono’s servant, Filippani. They both entered, very quietly, a private passage, long and winding, leading to a small door which opened upon a dark and little-used corner of the Quirinal courtyard, in which, on this night, there was waiting an old horse-drawn cab. But first, before the cab could be reached, it was necessary to get the door open, and the two quiet figures encountered some very bad moments when it was discovered that the servant had forgotten to pick up the key and nothing remained but for him to return to the Pope’s rooms and get it.
Filippani sped down the corridor, and as swiftly flew back along the fortunately deserted passage, and when he came in sight of the old courtyard door once again, he beheld on his knees before it his companion, lost in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which he bore upon his breast, in the pyx in which a Pope before him, Pope Pius VI, had carried his Lord with him into captivity. For it was Pius IX, Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ who, in disguise and at the risk of his life, adored his God at the most tense moment of his pontificate. Once in the cab, Filippani directed the driver by the spies and sentries and out through the less frequented streets of the city to the spot where the Bavarian Ambassador, Count Charles de Spaur and his chasseur, both fully armed for battle, awaited them. They left the faithful Filippani behind them, and proceeded to Albano, where the Countess de Spaur with her son and his tutor had been awaiting them since early morning (it was now nine in the evening), through what she later described as the most torturous hours of her life. After safely passing through a grueling challenge from the guards at Lariccia, the fugitives drove on at high speed to the border of the Papal States, and thence to Gaeta, in the Kingdom of Naples — and freedom.
Back in Rome, in His Holiness’ apartment in the Quirinal, the Ambassador of the French, the magnificently brave Duke d’Harcourt, continued for two long, endless hours to read in a loud voice to the echoing walls of an empty room. He then announced to the guard outside in the corridor that His Holiness was retiring for the night and did not wish to be disturbed. He left the palace in his usual brisk manner and, again in his state coach, flanked with outriders and torchbearers, he set out swiftly upon the road leading to the sea.
It was not until morning that Rome discovered that the Pope, disguised as a simple priest, had fled through the night and put himself well beyond the reach of those God-hating men who, with him in their evil possession, would have spoken to the world and to the Catholic faithful all over the Earth, slyly and subtly robbing them of their Faith and their heritage, in the name of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
A little outside Gaeta, some days later, after Mass celebrated by the superior of the Sanctuary of the Most Adorable Trinity, and attended by the King and Queen of Naples, the princes, cardinals and foreign ministers, Pope Pius IX, at the moment reserved for his solemn benediction, walked instead to the altar, and kneeling there, prayed aloud:
Eternal God, my august Father and Lord, behold at Thy feet Thy unworthy Vicar, who entreats Thee with his whole heart to pour out upon him from Thy eternal throne Thy divine benediction. O my God! direct his steps, sanctify his intentions, guide his mind, govern his actions. May he be here, where Thou hast led him in Thy admirable providence, or in any other portion of Thy fold to which he may go, a worthy instrument of Thy glory and that of Thy Church, which, alas! is assailed by Thy enemies. If, to appease Thy wrath so justly enkindled by the many indignities that are offered to Thee, in word, in action, and by the abuse of the press, his own life may be an agreeable holocaust to Thy Divine Heart, he consecrates it to Thee from this moment. Thou hast given it to him; to Thee only belongs the right of taking it away when it may please Thee; but O my God! let Thy glory triumph, let Thy Church be victorious! Preserve the good, support the feeble, and may the arm of Thy Omnipotence arouse all who are slumbering in darkness and the shadow of death. .. Bless the cardinals, the bishops, and all the clergy, that they may accomplish, in the peaceful ways of Thy law, the sanctification of the people. Then may we hope, not only to be delivered during our mortal pilgrimage from the snares of the impious and the machinations of wicked men, but to reach that place which affords eternal safety.
The congregation wept audibly, as children, until they thought their hearts would break, from love, from grief, from joy — from realization of God.
* * * * *
Pope Pius IX returned to Rome on April 12, 1850, under the protection of the French Army, after Mazzini’s Republic of Rome had fallen. He took up his residence, no longer in the Quirinal, but in the Vatican Palace. He made Cardinal Antonelli his Secretary of State, and for the remaining twenty-eight years of his extraordinarily long pontificate, Pope Pius IX, every trace of his former Liberalism vanished, struck out, in allocutions, encyclicals and infallible pronouncements, against the more than ever active enemies of the Church.
He brought down upon his head, by his direct, forceful and uncompromising utterances, the bitter hatred of the revolutionaries, Protestants and Liberals, but he earned, throughout the Catholic world, the lasting and devoted love of the people. They flocked to Rome from all over the world, in pilgrimage after pilgrimage, to do him honor. They rose to do battle for him when his enemies oppressed him the hardest. They watched with grief the Rome of Pio Nono, its existence threatened more and more with each passing year as the armies of Cavour’s King Victor Emmanuel — with the secret support of England’s Lord Palmerston and the contemptible Napoleon III (who as a Catholic betrayed his Holy Father) — gobbled up the Papal States one after the other until, on March 13, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel its king and Florence its temporary capital, and the Pope left with only the old duchy of Rome, the ancient Patrimony of Saint Peter.
However, all this was still in the future when, in 1850, Pope Pius IX, to the intense chagrin of great numbers in England who thought the papacy dead and buried forever since 1848, re-established an ecclesiastical hierarchy in England, with Nicholas Wiseman as Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster and head of the new bishops. Later, the Holy Father did the same thing for Holland, with the same resultant anti-Catholic demonstrations in that country.
On December 8, 1854, having spent all of his holy life — his boyhood, his priesthood, as bishop, cardinal and Pope — at the feet of the Mother of God, the most Blessed Virgin Mary, and having deeply considered also, in his exile at Gaeta, the earnest petitions of Catholics all over the world in its behalf, Pope Pius IX defined, ex cathedra, in the glorious Basilica of Saint Peter’s before one hundred and seventy bishops and innumerable pilgrims come literally from the ends of the Earth, the divine dogma of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. The voice of the Sovereign Pontiff broke and tears filled his eyes as he paused before uttering the infallible words:
We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful ...
As the Holy Father finished speaking, the cannon of the Castle of Sant’ Angelo boomed and the bells of the basilicas and churches of Rome long rang out the glorious news, which ushered in the Age of Mary — the last age of the world. The Catholic faithful rejoiced, and grace flooded their souls as they prayed the prayer Our Lady herself had given twenty years before to Catherine Labouré, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
In May, 1860, although Victor Emmanuel’s insulting order that he surrender Umbria and the Marches had just reached him, and he was also aware that Garibaldi was preparing to land in Sicily, Pope Pius IX serenely beatified Blessed John Sacander, the martyr, Blessed Canonico de Rossi and Blessed Benedict Joseph Labre. On the feast of Pentecost, on June 8, 1862, in the presence of three hundred cardinals, patriarchs, primates, archbishops and bishops, with the little duchy of Rome now perilously threatened by Victor Emmanuel and the south no longer the territory of his beloved son, the King of Naples, who had received him so gratefully in his exile, Pope Pius IX nevertheless solemnly and with visible and supernatural joy canonized the glorious Japanese martyrs who had been crucified for the Faith at Nagasaki in 1597, among whom were the three Japanese Jesuits, Paul Miki, John de Goto and James Kisai.
And then, on the tenth anniversary of the definition of the Immaculate Conception, on the eighth of December, 1864, he published the encyclical Quanta cura and its accompanying Syllabus of Errors, which rocked the world, Catholic and anti-Catholic, and raised up a storm of hatred against him which as yet has not, in some quarters, fully subsided! The Syllabus, compiled by Cardinal Bilio from the encyclicals, allocutions and apostolic letters of Pope Pius IX during the eighteen years of his pontificate, was a condemnation by the Holy Father of the errors growing out of the false principles and teachings of the age of Liberalism which, unwittingly absorbed even by Catholics who thought themselves pillars of the Church, were eating away the foundations of the Faith, all Christian government, all Christian morality, and, under the guise of “modern progress, modern science, modern social institutions, liberty and liberalism, enlightenment and civilization,” were ushering in the reign of Antichrist.
There is no question in the mind of anyone who innocently and chastely reads the writings and utterances of Pope Pius IX but that he believed, without any qualification, the fundamental doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. In the year 1863, when he was faced with all the arguments which the Liberals were pushing against him concerning the poor ignorant native who, through invincible ignorance, must be saved outside the body of the Church, Pope Pius IX, in his encyclical, Quanto conficiamur, declared that he knew about this ignorant native, all the arguments in favor of his deliverance from eternal damnation, he had heard all about this invincible ignorance — about which the Liberals were so hopeful — but despite all this, he held that, unless this ignorance in a person of good will were dissolved and clarified by the light of Faith, it could not bring him to salvation. The strong, unchangeable utterance of the Faith, that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, must still be maintained and dogmatically uttered even when we are thinking of the ignorant native on the desert island.
The modem Liberals of our time in Catholic life have never paid any attention to anything else which Pope Pius IX has said except this little half-bow of charity toward the ignorant native. And that the Holy Father knew, that the Liberals of his own day were misunderstanding him, is made clear by the Syllabus of Errors, which was issued in the following year, in which he sets down, without qualification, that it is condemned even to hope for the salvation of such men without the Faith.
Nothing but a desire to live comfortably in non-Catholic society, not to offend and not to make enemies, and a gradual, often unconscious, succumbing to the perpetual and appealing propaganda of newspapers and magazines put out by the rich and powerful anti-Christians, can explain the Catholic Liberals’ selection, in our time, of two or three vaguely worded sentences in all the volumes of Pope Pius’ utterance, and the use of these sentences to build up a whole new Liberal attack on a many times defined dogma of the Church, thereby entering well into the plans of the Church’s enemies. Pope Pius IX, who, by going even halfway politically with the enemies of Christ in the beginning of his pontificate, by the concessions he then made to the Liberals, lost for himself and his successors the temporal power of the Popes — and who learned at such bitter cost that Liberalism in any of its forms, and religious Liberalism in particular, leads to chaos and revolution — strove during every year of his reign to place before the faithful the truths of salvation.
His constant message to his bishops and archbishops was ever the same as the one which he wrote from Naples on December 8, 1849, in his encyclical Nostis et nobiscum:
You must indeed especially see to it that the faithful themselves have firmly fixed in their minds that dogma of our most holy religion, namely, the absolute necessity of the Catholic Faith for obtaining salvation ... that dogma received from Christ and inculcated by the Fathers and the Councils, which is found in the formulas of Profession of Faith in use among the Latins and the Greeks and other oriental Catholics ...
He told Werner de Mérode, the brother-in-law of Count de Montalembert, in November, 1863, that it was a sin to believe that there was salvation outside the Catholic Church.
On six different occasions, between 1846 and 1873, he condemned Freemasonry and its kindred secret sects. “You are from your father the devil,” he said to them in Singulari quadam, “and it is the works of your father that you wish to do.” He writes, in November, 1865, in Ex epistola, of the rulers of the various countries who had failed to suppress the Masonic sects: “Would that they had not shown such negligence in so serious a duty; we would not then have to deplore such great wars and movements of revolt by which all Europe has been set ablaze. ...” And he goes on to condemn the false but widespread opinion, arising from ignorance of the facts, that Freemasons are a harmless and philanthropic body, and that the Church has nothing to fear from them.
On November 21, 1873, in Etsi multa — deploring the persecutions which had come upon the Church in Rome and throughout the whole world, the anti-Catholic activities of the German imperial government (Bismarck’s Kulturkampf and the notorious Falk Laws which were, incidentally, the cause of bringing to America so many fine Germans, forced to flee because of them from their homeland), and the revolutions and anti-Catholic movement in South America — Pope Pius IX attributed them all to the Masonic and allied sects, “of which the Synagogue of Satan that is now mobilizing its forces against the Church of Christ is composed.” He warned his bishops to point out constantly to the faithful the fallacy of those “who, whether deceived themselves or striving to deceive and ensnare others, still presume to assert that these dark associations aim only at social betterment and human progress and the practice of beneficence, pointing out, at the same time, that it is not alone the Masonic body in Europe that is referred to, but also the Masonic associations in America and in whatever part of the world they may be.”
The anxious Pope had already given Jacques Crétineau-Joly (1803-1875), the journalist and historian, permission to publish in his book, The Church and the Revolution, copies of the documents and correspondence of the Alta Vendita which had been seized by the Pontifical Government of Pope Gregory XVI. The Alta Vendita was commonly believed to be, at that time, under the over-all direction of Palmerston, the governing center of Freemasonry. The program for society and the instructions for carrying it out, revealed in these papers, blanched the face of many a strong man.
* * * * *
On June 29, 1868, the Holy Father, having witnessed during the past two years the bitter passion of the Church in practically every land in Christendom, and with Garibaldi’s besieging army but temporarily driven back in its drive on Rome, nevertheless with tremendous courage issued a Bull convoking an ecumenical council to open in the Vatican Basilica on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1869.
This time, the fury of the Church’s foes knew no bounds. The international press acknowledged no restraints on its mingled resentment, scorn, hatred, anger, satire, maledictions and dire prophesies of plots, subplots and dark papal intrigues. They surmised, and published it far and wide — with all sorts of insinuations — that Pio Nono was about to proclaim the doctrine of infallibility. The Liberals and Radicals, the Greek Orthodox and the Protestants raged, in print and on the platform. Did not Pius know that he was the last Pope? And with the fall of the temporal power not far distant, did he not realize that the papacy at long last would be at an end? What was he thinking of, calling an ecumenical council! They suspected, and were prepared for, the worst.
The Gallicans in every country came to life again, and produced their stock in trade, their adamant assurance of the superiority of a council over a Pope. The Catholics, on the other hand, alternately argued that this was not the time to call, of all things, an ecumenical council, and that there never was any real attack on the doctrine of infallibility — real enough to require defining — for had not Pio Nono himself defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and had not the Council of Florence, in 1438, proclaimed definitely the Primacy of the Pope?
The great mass of the Catholic faithful abroad thought only that the year 1869 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Holy Father’s priesthood, and millions offered their Mass and Holy Communion for his intentions on the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, the day on which the happy anniversary fell. His great trials had but endeared him all the more to the loving hearts of his people. “No Pope has ever entered into such close and universal relations with the heart of humanity,” the Archbishop of Cologne wrote of Pio Nono on that day.
And in Rome, during the months preceding the Council, the bishops and theologians prepared the subjects to come under discussion, and the question of infallibility was not among them. For it had not been the Holy Father’s express intention of convening a council in order to define infallibility, but rather in order that “a supreme remedy might be applied to the supreme dangers that threaten Christianity,” and because he was resolved, this fearless Pope, “to build up in the eyes of the whole human race the edifice of Catholic dogma, in a form so complete, so beautiful that ... the whole Earth must admire it and exclaim that the hand of God is there!”
The great Vatican Council, the first ecumenical council held in the Church since the Council of Trent three centuries before, opened on December 8, 1869, with over seven hundred Fathers present, from all over the world. Eighty thousand people jammed Saint Peter’s, a living, breathing testimony to the hostile enemies outside of the unquenchable spirit of the Church of Jesus Christ, revivified at every second of its existence by the Third Person of the Adorable Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, and constantly watched over by His matchless Spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the tender Mother of all those incorporated in the Body and Blood of her Son.
Even though the doctrine of infallibility was not included in the matters for discussion, it was, nevertheless, in the minds of all as the Council opened. When it became known that no place had been given in the drafts (or schemata prepared for discussion) to the question of papal infallibility, the majority of the Fathers deliberated, since such a hue and cry had for so long been raised against it in the press, whether neglect to define now might not raise a question of its truth in many minds. And so, in April, five months after the opening of the Council — at the urgent appeal of Cardinal Manning, speaking for himself and a large body of the bishops — Pope Pius IX directed that the question of infallibility be prepared for immediate consideration by the Council.
It goes without saving that during the discussions which followed it never once occurred to the Fathers to debate the divinity of the doctrine, the fact of its divine revelation. They were concerned simply with the question of the opportuneness of the time — violently anti-Catholic and revolutionary — in which, not to change or add to the dogma in any way, for that never could be done either by Pope or council, but to reaffirm and state it in unmistakable language.
On July 18, 1870, despite the overwhelming, hysterical and desperate protest in the press all over the world, the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor aeternus, defining the infallibility of the Pope, was adopted. On that day, the Holy Father, Pope Pius IX, solemnly defined:
Faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian Faith, for the glory of God our Savior, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of the Christian people, the Sacred Council approving, we teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra — that is, when in the discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church — is, by the divine assistance promised him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.”
A violent thunderstorm, threatening since early morning, broke over Rome just as the voting on the doctrine began. For an hour and a half, peals of thunder shook the vast Basilica, and flashes of lightning lit up the faces of the Fathers as each rose, in his turn, to pronounce his assent. The altar appeared out of the pitch darkness, as the lightning lingered upon it, and the great congregation was filled with awe as Our Lord’s Words to Saint Peter, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,” inscribed on the base of the dome, suddenly stood out clearly for all to read. To many present it recalled the thunders which rolled and the lightnings which flashed round Sinai, while Moses within the storm cloud on the mountain top received the law from the Eternal God.
As the voices of the congregation were raised in the glorious praise of the Te Deum, the storm ceased, and the sun broke through the clouds. It shone with an especially golden radiance, unusual even for Italy, directly upon the exalted face of the Holy Father, revealing the fine, sensitive features of Giovanni-Maria Mastai-Ferretti grown strong with the exceeding strength he had summoned, with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in order to bring safely, through the violent storms which for almost twenty-five years had at every moment beset it, the precious barque of Peter. It revealed, this light of the sun, the personal holiness of the “good Pio Nono”! And it revealed, through the supernatural joy which now was habitual to him, no matter how great his trials, the lines of suffering worn deep into his countenance, for indeed he had been well-named by Saint Malachy, “Crux de Cruce,” Cross upon Cross.
Even the hostile London Times, whose columns daily had been filled with articles which gave much pain to the Holy Father, was forced to report of the transcendently moving scene: “The Benediction followed. The entire congregation fell on their knees, and the Pope blessed them in those clear sweet tones distinguishable among a thousand.”
And then, perfectly in keeping with the story of his whole pontificate, on the very same day as the glorious triumph of the Vatican Council, on the very same July 18, 1870, news reached him that war had been declared between France and Prussia.
Within a month. Napoleon III had withdrawn the remnants of the French Army still in Rome. This was the opportunity for which Victor Emmanuel and his advisers had been waiting, and on the twentieth of September, after bombarding the gates of the city, his troops at last entered Rome by a breach in the Porta Pia. “You are whited sepulchres,” the Holy Father told Victor Emmanuel’s envoy. “I know you not, and cannot know you or treat in any manner with you!”
After that, Rome was no longer the City of the Popes. It was become, this chosen city of Peter, the capital of an Italy controlled by anti-Christian forces. The time would come when the Prime Minister of Italy would be the Grand Master of the Italian Masons, Crispi, and the mayor of Rome would be Nathan, a Jew. How Saint Peter must have grieved, even in Heaven, to see his Master crucified anew in the city of his predilection, the new Jerusalem!
In May, 1871, the Italian Government passed the incredible “Law of Guarantees” which, among many other things, after stripping the Holy Roman Pontiff of all of his possessions, proclaimed him a guest of the government and allowed him “to enjoy the apostolic palaces of the Vatican and the Lateran, as well as the Villa de Castel Gandolfo”! — while it went on with the inevitable confiscation of monasteries and convents, abolition of religious teaching in the schools, legislation on marriage, interference with the training of priests in the seminaries, and the rest of the program of the whole anti-Christian regime once it comes into power. The Law of Guarantees made the Pope, indeed, the creature of the State.
Pope Pius IX refused to acknowledge the Law of Guarantees, and became a prisoner in the Vatican, since to step outside it would necessitate crossing the territory held by the Italian Government and would constitute a recognition of its right to that territory. That the imprisonment of the Pope was a real as well as a voluntary one, we know. When, on the twentieth of June, 1874, on the twenty-eighth anniversary of his coronation, Pio Nono appeared at a window of the Vatican, the more than a hundred thousand persons in or around the Vatican Basilica for the Te Deum and Benediction which concluded the ceremonies in his honor, broke into cheers at the sight of him. Victor Emmanuel’s troops immediately rushed into the square, summarily dispersed the crowds and dragged off to prison all those whose outraged souls had caused them to protest. These were many, among them ladies from the oldest and noblest families in Rome. Long prison terms were given four men who had cried out, “Evviva il Papa Ré!”
Pope Pius IX adjourned the Vatican Council one month after the seizure of Rome; it has never since been reconvened. The gloriously intransigent Pope lived on, a prisoner in the Vatican, for almost seven more years. When his faithful Catholics, who flocked to Rome in thousands to pay him honor, would address him as Pius the Great, he answered that God alone was great, and refused the title. When they would offer him a golden throne, he begged that the money be used to ransom theological students from military service. He continued to live as he had always lived, sleeping in “one of the smallest of the eleven thousand rooms at his command,” providing for the poor even in his own great poverty, spending long hours in prayer and meditation, counseling the proud and the intellectual in words similar to those he addressed, at the time of the Vatican Council, to Bishop Dupanloup of France, “Return, brother, I pray you, to that golden simplicity of little ones.” He kept his words of burning love for the poor, of the caliber of the poor women of Rome who, thirteen thousand strong, came and read to him one day their address, “To the Father of the Poor.” They laid at his feet a sum of money “made up of the cents lovingly given by hands and hearts which Pius IX had often bounteously filled.”
He instituted the feast of the Precious Blood. He declared Saint Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. He made Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Saint Hilary of Poitiers, and Saint Francis de Sales, Doctors of the Church. No Pope before him in the history of the Church beatified more blessed and canonized more saints than did Pope Pius IX. He raised the Church in the United States from the status of a mission, and established, between 1847 and 1853, the archbishoprics of St. Louis, New York, Cincinnati, New Orleans and San Francisco. In 1875, he named Archbishop John McCloskey of New York the first American Cardinal.
On the seventh of February, 1878, at the age of eighty-six, having served his Lord, Jesus Christ, as His Vicar just four months short of the thirty-two years of Saint Peter’s pontificate, the glorious Pope Pius IX died, consoled and comforted to the last by that other great foe of Liberalism, Cardinal Manning. Pio Nono was mourned by true Catholics all over the world and hated to the end by the Church’s enemies — always the sign of a good Pope. “I have loved justice and hated iniquity,” the great Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII, had said, “therefore I die in exile.”
Pope Pius IX died, still a prisoner in the Vatican. And sure proof that his strong and valiant fight against the seed of Lucifer had stopped Our Lady’s deadly and powerful enemy short of his all but complete victory over Christ’s Church is seen in the diabolical hatred and malice with which the fiendish mob, inspired by the Masonic clubs of Rome, attacked his coffin in an attempt to desecrate his body as it was being moved, three years after his death, from the Vatican to his chosen last resting place in the Church of Saint Lawrence-outside-the-walls. The reason for this outrage was not, as some have said, that Pio Nono had allowed foreign troops (the French) to protect him in Rome for so many years, but rather because he had stood out to the last against the Liberals and Radicals, the Socialists and Communists, the apostles of false progress, false liberty and the unlimited power of the State — all of whom preached so compellingly, with all the power of the press of the world behind them — and because he would not refrain from denouncing them whenever the opportunity offered, under whatever name they might assume or whatever mask they might wear.
The tragedy of all tragedies, however, is that Pope Pius IX has not been allowed to rest in peace. The Catholic Liberals, on whom he made unrelenting war during his entire pontificate, have in our day tried to make him the father of the modern heresy! But we can trust the Immaculate Mother of God to take care of this trial as she has all others in the life of her devoted son. One by one, he beheld his greatest enemies die before him, broken and humiliated. And today, what Pio Nono foretold of Victor Emmanuel has come true. “Again I tell you,” he said, “you shall not long enjoy your violence.” The Kingdom of Italy is no more. Nor is the Imperial Germany of Bismarck. The sun has set, at last, on Palmerston’s Britain. There is no longer a French Emperor. Europe is paying the price of its sins against its ancient Father, to whom it owes all that it has ever been, for today it is in the hands of those who are the secret foes even of Masonry.
And the Papal States? That which was lost in 1870 was not the papacy, as the anti-Christian world had planned and thought, but only the land which had guaranteed the independence of the papacy in the performance of its spiritual mission. Some of this land has been returned, and Pope Pius XII, the Pope of our day, is exercising his sublime office from the tiny territory of Vatican City.
And Pio Nono? The glorious Pope Saint Pius X, who took his name and who was ever in joyous admiration of his sanctity, opened the process for the beatification of Pope Pius IX on the eleventh of February, 1907. We pray that it may come quickly, for the triumph of Pope Pius IX is the triumph of the Church. It was the thought of the Church which filled his last moments, and it was concerning the Church that he spoke his last words. “Guard the Church,” he said to the Cardinals kneeling at his bedside. “Guard the Church I loved so well and sacredly.”