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Pius IX. And His Time   By: (1810-1894)

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Pius IX.

And His Time


The Rev. Æneas MacDonell Dawson.


Printed by Thos. Coffey, Catholic Record Printing House.



Preface. Pius IX. And His Time. Footnotes


The history of Pius IX. will always be read with interest. His Pontificate was, indeed, eventful. In no preceding age were the annals of the Church so grandly illustrated.

The spiritual sovereignty, "with which," to use the words of a British statesman, "there is nothing on this earth that can at all compare," was crowned with surpassing glory. Doctrines which, hitherto, had been open to theological discussion, were ascertained and pronounced to be in accordance with the belief of all preceding Christian ages. The Church was enabled, through the labors of her Chief and the zeal of her Priesthood, to extend vastly the place of her tent. The life of Pius IX. himself was a marvel and a glory. None of his predecessors, not even Peter, attained to his length of days.

On the other hand, the venerable Pontiff, and, together with him, the Catholic people, were doomed to behold and lament the loss of the time honored patrimony of St. Peter. The Papacy, however, unlike all temporal sovereignties, was able to sustain so great a loss. More ancient than its temporal power, it still survives; "not a mere antique, but in undiminished vigor."


John Mary Count Mastai Ferreti was born at Sinigaglia, on the 13th of May, 1792. At the age of twenty two he came to Rome. Anxious to serve the Holy Father, and yet not aspiring to the priesthood, he resolved to become a member of the Noble Guard. This the delicate state of his health forbade. Repelled by the Prince Commandant, he sought counsel of the Pope. Pius VII. pronounced that his destiny was the Cross, and advised him to devote himself to the ecclesiastical state. The words of the Holy Father were, to the youthful Mastai, as a voice from on high. He decided for the Church, and, as if in testimony that his decision was ratified in heaven, the falling sickness left him. His studies were more than ordinarily successful, and he already gave proof of those high qualities which were afterwards so greatly developed. The distinguished Canon Graniare, his professor, little dreaming of the exalted destiny which awaited him, held him up as a pattern of excellence to his fellow students, saying that he possessed the heart of a Pope.

Whilst yet a student, Mastai interested himself in an orphanage, which was founded by John Bonghi, a charitable mason of Rome. He spent in this institution the first seven years of his priesthood, devoting himself to the care of the orphans, who were, as yet, his only parishioners. The income which he derived from family resources was liberally applied in supplying the wants of these destitute children, and even in ministering to their recreation.

It now became his duty to accompany, as a missionary priest, Monsignore Mazi, who was appointed Vicar Apostolic for Chili, Peru and Mexico. These countries had thrown off the yoke of Spain and adopted Republican forms of government. The Vicar Apostolic and his companions suffered much in the course of their voyage to America. They were cast into prison, at the Island of Majorca, by Spanish officials, who took it amiss that Rome should hold direct relations with the rebellious subjects of their government. Their ship was attacked by corsairs, and was afterwards in danger from a storm. A single circumstance only need be mentioned in order to show what the faithful ministers of the Church had to endure when traversing the inhospitable steppes of the Pampas. Once, at night, they had no other shelter than a wretched cabin built with the bones of animals, which still emitted a cadaverous odour... Continue reading book >>

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