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Pius IX

Pope from 1846. Born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, he was archbishop of Spoleto (1827) and bishop of Imola (1832) before his election as pope. He enjoyed the longest pontificate in history and consummated the spiritual renewal of the Roman Church in the nineteenth century. His central task was the identification and promotion of devoutly Catholic faith and practice in distinction from the many non-Christian and anti-Catholic philosophical or societal movements. Two world-historical events summarized his reign: the end of papal temporal power (1859-61, 1870), and the First Vatican Council (1869-70).

Pius IX experienced revolution firsthand in the Revolution of 1848-49 when he was forced by Mazzinians and Garibaldinians to flee Rome. French troops restored him (April 1850) and occupied Rome and its environs with only one interruption until 1870. Nevertheless, uprisings and Sardinian-Italian invasions terminated the temporal power over the States of the Church* (1859-61, 1870) after a thousand-year rule. He maintained a policy of nonrecognition (non possemus) of the Italian absorption of the Papal States, which he considered necessary to his spiritual independence.

Out of this experience, Pius identified the principles, including liberalism, democratism, rationalism, anticlericalism, which motivated anti-Catholic assaults, and condemned them in a series of addresses, excommunications, and encyclicals, notably the Quanta Cura and the appended Syllabus of Errors* (1864). These were consistent with his first encyclical Qui pluribus (1846); contrary to many liberal enthusiasts (1846-48), he never had a sympathy for secular liberalism.

Concomitantly he constructively promoted Ultramontane* renewal of his spiritual power by defining the Immaculate Conception* of Mary (1854), which encouraged wide popular Catholic revival among the faithful; by timely canonizations and papal jubilees; by urging extensive missionary work worldwide; by his own example of obvious piety and faith amid extreme adversity; and by convening the Vatican Council* (1869-70). Pius IX, supported by the mass popular revival, succeeded in centralizing the church in the papacy, especially in the promulgation of Papal Infallibility (1870), and undermining all attempts to continue Gallican and Febronian churches under the new motive of nationalism. He reestablished the hierarchies in England (1850) and the Netherlands (1853); secured favorable concordats with Russia (1847), Spain (1851), and Austria (1855); and established numerous new dioceses. In the process, Pius IX achieved for the church a remarkable independence from state domination. Except for one diplomatic mission to Latin America (1823-25), he spent his whole life in the central Italian peninsula.

Bibliography: T.A. Trollope, The Story of the Life of Pius the Ninth (2 vols., 1877); R. Aubert, Le pontificat de Pie IX (1952); E.E.Y. Hales, Pio nono (1954); P. Fernessole, Pie IX (2 vols., 1961-63); K.S. Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age, vol. 1 (1969), pp. 266ff.C.T. Mc Intire